Memorandum by the Chief Commissioner of the Allied Commission ( Stone ) to the Supreme Allied Commander ( Alexander )43

In discussing the question of the method of determination of the future form of government of Italy, it is assumed that the primary consideration is the maintenance of the pledges of the Governments of the United States and Great Britain toward the Italian people of a free and untrammeled choice of the permanent form of their Government, and the guarantee that, insofar as possible, the will of the majority of the Italian people shall be carried out (Aide-Mémoire of British Embassy in Washington to Department of State on May 15, 1945 and Department of State’s reply of May 26).
Under present conditions in Italy, it would appear that the ultimate decision affecting the institutional question might be most justly brought about by means of a referendum rather than by entrusting the decision to the Constituent assembly. Although it is the opinion of the Legal Sub-Commission of the Allied Commission that Decree Law 151 of June 25, 1944 precludes the Government from deciding this question by a referendum (ACC/4005/L of 6 Oct 1944), paragraph 4 of the same opinion points out that this Decree Law can be at any time abrogated by the enaction of a subsequent similar piece of legislation. Furthermore, since the original legislation was passed without consultation with the Allied Commission, it would appear to be not out of the question to suggest to the Italian Government that a revision of this legislation might be desirable as an expression of the will of the Italian Government to assist the Allied Governments in carrying out their commitments regarding the free and untrammeled choice by the Italian people of their permanent form of Government. The revised legislation might provide that the referendum should be held as soon as the lists of voters for the whole of Italy other than Venezia Giulia have been completed—in other words, that it might take place at the same time as the provincial and communal elections and not await the elections for the Constituent Assembly.
Were an effort of this nature to be undertaken, it would be important to review the reasons, not necessarily those of a legal nature, why a referendum would ensure to the Italian people, in practice, a freer and fairer choice in this important matter. In this connection, the President of the Council, Signor Bonomi, expressed to the Chief Commissioner subsequent to the Yalta Conference, the hope that the Allied Governments would require in the peace treaty or otherwise that the Italian institutional question be determined by referendum rather than by constituent assembly “in order to avoid the danger of having this question decided by less than a majority of the Italian people” (6506/COS, CC200 of 31 March 1945) while as early as July 3, 1944, the Chief Commissioner, in commenting to the Supreme Allied Commander on Decree Law 151, stated that it was clear to him and to his advisers that a referendum offered the best chance of a fair decision on the institutional question since it was unrealistic to expect that no attempt would be made to interfere with the result and since it would be immeasurably more difficult to interfere with a referendum (see ACC memo of July 3, 1944 to SACMED). It should further be pointed out that the same memorandum contains the result of conversations between the Allied Commission and members of the Italian Government in which the latter offer assurances that Decree Law 151 does not, in its intent, offer any closed solution to the method of determination of Italy’s permanent form of Government. It is hardly necessary to add that events and public statements over the past year have shown that if the institutional question were to be decided by the constituent assembly, strong political interests would undertake a concerted campaign to ensure the result desired by them, perhaps without sincere reference to the needs of the Italian people. Without in any way whatsoever taking sides in this question, it would seem that these utterances seriously prejudice an impartial solution thereof.
Therefore, it would appear that only through a properly supervised referendum can the Italian people be assured of the fairest expression of their will, and that this would be the most desirable line of action, given the present circumstances and conditions in Italy.
Ellery W. Stone

Rear Admiral, USNR
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch 1859, July 6, 1945, from Rome; received July 19.