Why Is France’s Communist Party Dropping the Hammer and Sickle as Their Symbol?

A man flashes the victory sign as he listens to the final speech of the ‘Fete de l’Humanité’, a political event organized by French communist party (PCF) on September 18, 2011 in La Courneuve, outside Paris. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Communists in France have decided to drop the hammer and sickle from their membership cards in favor of a symbol they believe will have a greater appeal for new generations, according to French media.  The well-known emblem will reportedly be replaced with a five-pointed star representing the European Left, a loose coalition of far-left parties.

But as the International Herald Tribune (the global edition of the New York Times) writes, the leadership may have “sparked a revolution among the comrades” with the change.

They explain:

What was billed by the party leadership as a forward-looking move was denounced by others as revisionist backsliding and part of a conspiracy to abandon the movement to the embrace of social democracy.

Emmanuel Dang Tran, secretary of the party’s Paris section, told France Info radio that members were shocked at the abandoning of “what represents, for the working class of this country, a historic element in resistance against the politics of capitalism.”

An anonymous commenter on the radio’s website suggested wryly: “It’s natural that they’ve abandoned their tools. There’s no work anymore!”


[Tran] said the leadership was trying to create a social democracy…alongside “Greens, socialists, Trotskyists and I don’t know who else.”

But the party’s national secretary Pierre Laurent, while respectful of the symbol’s history, thinks it’s no longer representative of the majority of party members.

“It’s an established and revered symbol that continues to be used in all our demonstrations,” he told LCI radio. “But it does not illustrate the reality of who we are today; it isn’t so relevant to a new generation of communists.”