851.01/3352: Telegram

The Acting American Representative to the French Committee of National Liberation at Algiers (Chapin) to the Secretary of State

154. My 130, January 12, 11 p.m. The six former Communist Deputies delegates to the Assembly have now presented their own proposal for a plan for the return to a republican form of government in France.

[Page 643]

They state by way of preface that while they would have preferred that the war program should have been completed by the Assembly before taking up the provisional organization of France upon its liberation the discussion having been raised they would submit their own plan.

The preamble stresses that until the meeting of a constitutional assembly any provisional government must have a popular mandate by [apparent omission] that no rigid lines can meet in advance the many problems which will arise during the intervening period. The FCNL9 should be recognized as the “Provisional Government of the French Republic.” The two basic assumptions are (1) that France shall be free, democratic, and independent and (2) that only through liberty and equality can there be integration of the French Empire with the French community.

The preamble also envisages a list of some 14 urgent matters upon which the Provisional Government should take “immediate action”. These comprise a number of popular measures some of which have demagogic overtones including such items as reparation of damages to individuals and to property, immediate increase in rations, low cost housing, organized recreation, aid to children and to mothers, extension of educational facilities, et cetera. First on the list is a provision for a high criminal court composed of two magistrates and three representatives of resistance groups to try “traitors” and one for the creation of a Garde Patriotique or auxiliary police drawn from resistance elements. Also envisaged is confiscation of property belonging to persons or entities having collaborated with the enemy.

The plan itself follows the general administrative framework of the other plans but springs from the proposal that each commune as it is liberated should elect, by show of hands in the public square, a communal patriotic delegation to take the place of the Municipal Council. All citizens of both sexes above 18 years of age are admitted to the vote. These delegations will in turn elect delegates to a departmental assembly according to a schedule of proportional representation. The departmental assembly, having come into being as a whole department may be liberated, would elect a departmental patriotic delegation of 15 members to act as an advisory council for the prefect and two representatives for the National Provisional Consultative Assembly. Having performed this task and emitted a vote of confidence or lack of confidence in the Provisional Government of the French Republic, the assembly will adjourn.

Three forms are provided for the Provisional Consultative Assembly: first, the existing Assembly is to continue in its present membership until at least a part of metropolitan France has been liberated; [Page 644] the second stage envisages that as each metropolitan department is freed and until 25% of the population is freed two additional members, elected in accordance with the preceding paragraph, will be added to the assembly; finally after 25% of the metropolitan area has been liberated membership of the assembly would be reduced to two delegates of each department as freed, a representation from resistance groups and a representation from overseas territories.

An elaborate system is envisaged for elections in Paris.

Elections for the constituent assembly will be held as soon as 90% of French citizens are regularly inscribed in the voting list, or in any case not later than 6 months after the total liberation of the territory. Provision is made for absentee voting of soldiers, sailors, and prisoners. All Frenchmen and women above 18 years of age in good standing will be entitled to vote but candidates for office must be 21 years of age.

Upon the inauguration of the constituent assembly, the communal and departmental patriotic delegations and the Provisional Consultative Assembly cease to exist. The Provisional Government of the French Republic resigns and the constituent assembly elects a president of the new provisional government of the French Republic who would submit his cabinet for ratification by the constituent assembly to whom the president and his ministers individually are responsible. A new constitution must have been adopted within 3 months of the constituent assembly’s inaugural session, and within a further 2 months arrangements must have been made for the election of such communal, departmental and national assemblies as are provided for in the constitution. With the entry upon their duties of these last named bodies, the Provisional Government will resign and the regular government of the French Republic will take over.

  1. French Committee of National Liberation.