In 1919, Daladier was elected to the Chamber of Deputies from the Vaucluse as a Radical Socialist. He was minister of colonies in 1924 and premier from January to October 1933. Daladier formed another cabinet in January 1934 but resigned the next month over the Stavisky Scandal.
Daladier helped bring the Radicals into the leftist Popular Front coalition with the Socialists and Communists for the 1936 national elections. On the collapse of the Popular Front, he again became premier in April 1938. Under heavy pressure from British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and despite France's treaty obligations to Czechoslovakia, Daladier agreed at the September 1938 Munich Conference to Adolf Hitler's demands for the cession of the Sudentenland to Germany. Unlike Chamberlain, he had no illusions that the agreement had secured peace.
Daladier then did what he could to prepare France for war. On the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, he led France into war against Germany. Angered by the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact of 23 August 1939, he reacted by outlawing the Communist Party and arresting its leaders. Daladier was criticized for France's military inaction during the so-called "Phony War" and its failure to assist Finland in Finland's war against the Soviet Union. He was forced to resign on 20 March 1940 and was replaced by Paul Reynaud. Daladier remained in the cabinet, however, as minister of war until the defeat of France in June 1940.
On 21 June 1940, Daladier and other cabinet ministers sailed from Bordeaux for North Africa in an effort to set up a government in exile, but new chief of state General Henri Pétain ordered them arrested. Daladier was among those brought to trial at Riom in 1942 by the Vichy government on charges of having caused the French defeat. The trial was suspended, but Daladier remained in custody. In 1943 he was removed as a prisoner to Germany. Released in April 1945, Daladier was one of the few leaders of the Third Republic to continue in politics during the Fourth Republic. Reelected a deputy, he served in the National Assembly from 1946 until 1958. Daladier died at Paris on 10 October 1970.
William L. Ketchersid and Spencer C. Tucker
Horne, Alistair. To Lose a Battle: France 1940. Boston: Little, Brown, 1969.; Rémond, René, and Janine Bourdin. Édouard Daladier, chef de gouvernement, avril 1938–septembre 1939. Paris: Presse de la Fondation Nationale des Science Politiques, 1977.; Reynaud, Paul. In the Thick of the Fight. Trans. James D. Lambert. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1955.; Werth, Alexander. France and Munich: Before and After the Surrender. New York: H. Fertig, 1969.