The Parti Populaire Français (French Popular Party) was a Frenchfascist and anti-semitic political party led by Jacques Doriot before and during World War II. It is generally regarded as the most collaborationist party of France.
The party was formed on 28 June 1936, by Doriot and a number of fellow former members of the French Communist Party (including Henri Barbé and Paul Marion) who had moved towards nationalism in opposition to the Popular Front. The PPF centered initially around the town of Saint-Denis, of which Doriot was mayor (as a Communist) from 1930 to 1934, and drew its support from the large working class population in the area. Although not avowedly nationalistic at this point, the PPF adopted many aspects of social nationalist politics, imagery and ideology, and quickly became popular among other nationalists, attracting to its ranks former members of such groups as Action Française, Jeunesses Patriotes, Croix de Feu and Solidarité Française. The party held a number of large rallies following their formation and adopted as the party flag a Celtic cross against a red, white and blue background. Members wore light blue shirts, dark blue trousers, berets and armbands bearing the party symbol as a uniform, although the uniform was not as ubiquitous as in other far-right movements.
Despite the Communist origins of much of its leadership (which retained the name Politburo), the party was virulently anti-Marxist, which it came to regard as a Jewish pseudo-socialism which was not working for real improvements to the situation of the French working-classes. Physical violence by PPF members (especially the PPF paramilitary wing, the Service d’Ordre) against Communist Party supporters and other perceived enemies was not uncommon. The PPF, in its initial, working class, phase, was economically populist and anti-banking. It moved closer to corporatism in 1937 when Doriot was deserted by his traditional working class base in losing the mayoral election in Saint-Denis, and the party began receiving financial support from right-wing leaders of business and finance, such as the General Manager of the Banque Worms, Gabriel Leroy-Ladurie.
Doriot proposed to Colonel François de La Rocque uniting his Parti Social Français with the PPF to form an anti-Marxist alliance to be called the Front de la Liberté, but La Rocque, who was a capitalist, rejected the movement. That same year, the PPF contacted the Italian government of Benito Mussolini to request support. According to the private diary of Count Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini’s foreign minister and son-in-law: “Doriot’s right-hand-man has asked me to continue to pay subsidies and provide weapons. He envisages a winter filled with conflicts. (Ciano diary, Sept. 1937). Ciano paid 300 000 francs from the coffers of Fascist Italy to Victor Arrighi (head of the Algiers section of the PPF).
These funds from the Italian Fascists and French banking and business interests were used to purchase a number of newspapers, including La Liberté, which became the official party organ. In time, as the Nazi regime began to contribute a greater share of the PPF’s funds, it began to advocate corporatism, and pushed for closer ties with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in a grand alliance against the Soviet Union.