Reading aloud a 198-page report for five hours, Secretary General Georges Marchais refused to acknowledge any major responsibility for the sorry state of the party's electoral fortunes. Instead, he scathingly blamed the troubles on a series of betrayals by his former allies, President Francois Mitterrand and his Socialist Party, though he did not rule out joining the Socialists in another "union of the left" some time in the future.
Judging by the sustained, rhythmic clapping the 1,722 delegates gave him, the 64-year-old Marchais is in full control of the congress and will easily win reelection to lead the party, as he has since 1972. Speaking to the delegates in a sports arena in this Paris suburb, he was backed by a huge banner that proclaimed "Hope and Combat With the Communists."
Marchais and the other dominant leaders asserted that the party's troubles were not of their making and that provoked an unusual number of open attacks. Marcel Rigout, one of the four former Cabinet members, said that Marchais was "a man of failure." [Pierre Juquin], whose official job is party spokesman, published an attack on the party program in L'Humanite, the official party newspaper.