865.00/4–1245: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

945. In amplification of my 941, April 11, 7 p.m., I submit that to approve consideration by the Italian Government of the proposal to substitute the Lieutenant General by a Regency would in fact amount to reopening the institutional question in contradiction to the position assumed both by the Allies and the Italian Government and would, owing to the attitude of the several political parties in the Government coalition, result in bickerings and strife at a time when the Government should be free to devote its full energies to the political and economic integration of northern and southern Italy. The solution of the many problems which will then arise could, it seems to me, only be rendered more difficult by postponement while consideration was being given to a matter which is scheduled for decision and final settlement at a later date.

[Page 966]

It is my opinion also that this decision and final settlement would itself only be complicated by the introduction of a temporary element such as envisaged in the proposal for a Regency. As the Department is aware (my despatch No. 621 of December 733), the legal subcommission of the Allied Commission is of the opinion that under Decree Law 151 of June 25, 1944, the institutional question must be determined by the Constituent Assembly. This position is taken also by the Communist, Socialist, Action and Republican parties. On the other hand, Bonomi has several times expressed to the Chief Commissioner, Allied Commission, his personal opinion that the Decree Law did not preclude a decision by referendum, and recently expressed his hope that the Allied Governments would require a decision by this method. This view is apparently shared by the Liberals and the Christian Democrats, although neither party has taken an unequivocal public stand. The Democratic Party has, however, publicly affirmed its desire for a referendum as has the Democratic Liberal Concentration, while the Labor Democrats appear to be equally divided on the issue and have avoided any public statement thereon.

While none of the parties have publicly declared the reasons for their position, it is generally accepted that the extreme left parties desire a decision by the Constituent Assembly because of a fear that a majority of the voters, while prepared to support party nominees who might themselves favor a republic and would so vote in the Constituent Assembly, would find it difficult to overcome their traditional loyalty to the House of Savoy and would therefore hesitate to cast a direct ballot against the monarchy. The extreme left parties also fear the loyalist tendency of the Armed Forces and the possible effect this may have upon the electorate. It is possible that this view is shared also by the Democratic Party, the Democratic Liberal Concentration and the Liberals, although they appear to feel that the majority of Italians are loyal to the monarchy and can be counted upon to vote for it if they are not misled by extreme political elements. They also insist that if this decision is left to the Constituent Assembly, its members will be subjected to political pressure from the extreme left which will be difficult to resist. As regards the Christian Democrats, their preference for a referendum seems to spring from a sincere conviction that it affords the fairest choice to the people.

In view of the foregoing I share a conviction which is growing among Allied Commission officials that a properly supervised referendum is to be preferred to a decision by the Constituent Assembly as an expression of the popular will. I shall be glad to be informed [Page 967] for my guidance in further conversations with the Allied officials if I may state that my Government supports this preference. (See Department’s instruction No. 129 of January 21 [20].)

  1. Not printed.