874.00/7–2545: Telegram

No. 817
The Representative in Bulgaria (Barnes) to the Acting Secretary of State1
secret
priority

381. United FF (Fatherland Front) lists of candidates for the 23 electoral districts into which Bulgaria has been divided for the forthcoming general elections, still scheduled for August 26 have been published in this morning’s press. The formula of 95, 95, 46, 31 and 92 (remytel 341, July 73) has been adhered to. All Agrarian and Socialist candidates are Obbovists and Neikovists. All Zveno candidates are supporters of Kimon Georgiev who recently has gone so far in trailing along with the Communists as to alienate many of his former admirers.

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The anomaly of the domestic political situation as revealed by the lists published this morning is that Petkov Agrarians and Cheshmedjieff Socialists along with certain independents who have made common cause with Petkov and Cheshmedjieff and support of democratic process against Communist domination of the FF are still nominally supporters of and participants in the FF Govt, while in fact they have already been excluded from the FF. The only basis now left for participation by these democratic forces in the forthcoming elections is article 53 of the electoral law which provides for candidates based on petitions signed by ten registered voters. A few well administered beatings by Interior Minister Yugov’s militia will probably limit such petitions to a minimum; also Petkov Cheshmedjieff and other opponents of Communist domination have little or no time in which to act independently as today is the last day for the registration of candidatures with the local courts. Even should they succeed in filing lists their chances of successful participation in the elections will remain small as they possess no medium of public expression and must rely upon surreptitious means of informing the voter as to their program and candidates.

Hence immediate intervention by three principal Allies looking to postponement of the elections at least until the end of October and to democratic revision and control of electoral procedures seems imperative if Bulgaria is not to witness on August 26 a Hitlerite plebiscite staged to confirm control of the country by Communists and their stooges, the Obbov and Neikov led Agrarians and Socialists and by the totalitarian minded Zveno. Last minute changes in the electoral law which emphasize once again that Minister of Interior is leaving nothing to chance were announced yesterday. One of these changes states that common list ballots will not be invalidated if the voter scratches any of the names on the list and ballot will be counted for all names printed thereon.

Assistant Minister of War General Lekarsky said in a public statement yesterday that “the army is very pleased with the decision of the FF to come out with a common ticket” and that “attempts to put forward separate lists are disrespectful of the memory of those who gave their lives in a patriotic war in support of national unity”. He also said that the Bulgarian soldier of the Peoples Army is writing in blood a new history of Bulgaria on the first page of which the following program is inscribed:

“Eternal brotherly alliance with Tito’s Yugoslavia and all other Slavic nations; eternal brotherly alliance with the people of USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) who bring freedom to all enslaved people; unity between people and army; a fighting alliance among all really democratic forces in the country; death to every [Page 718]open or concealed enemy of those slogans and close cooperation with all honest democratic nations to assure peace of the world”. (It would be interesting to have his list of dishonest democratic nations). Also yesterday the Minister for Foreign Affairs4 replying to a comment by me to the effect that a month still remains during which time the Allies could advise postponement of elections, laughingly made mention of the old proverb about time and tide, adding that it is already too late for the Allies to change matters much.

I am sure Dept is fully aware of direct bearing of all the foregoing on questions of recognition and negotiation of a peace treaty which problems presumably are now under active discussion at Potsdam. Surely any govt that might issue from (better to say be confirmed by) a Hitlerite plebiscite would hardly be one to merit our confidence without winning it by a record of fair and honest dealing. I therefore continue to believe the only course of wisdom open to us is the exertion without delay in the interest of the freest possible elections of whatever influence we may possess. As the MinForAff suggested, politics have a characteristic in common with time and tide.

Rpd to Moscow as 196.

  1. The gist of this message was included in telegram No. 150 of July 28 from Grew to Byrnes (file No. 800.00 Summaries/7–2845).
  2. i. e., 95 seats for the Communists, 95 for the Agrarians, 46 for the Zveno group, 31 for the Socialists, and 9 for Independents.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Petko Stainov.