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

No. 578

Sir: I refer to your despatch number 1790 of June 2552 transmitting the Italian Government’s preliminary project for reconstitution of local elective authorities. Following the receipt of the aide-mémoire of the British Embassy in Washington of July 10 in which the British Government declined to be associated with the Government of the United States in any specific program of suggestion and advice to the Italian Government regarding the form of local government, the Department withdrew its proposal for joint action of the three Powers in implementation of point six of the Moscow Declaration of November 1, 1943. The Department’s action will be limited to informal transmission of the substance of its studies to officials of the Italian Government (Department’s instruction No. 520, July 31, 1945). I hope, however, that the officials of the Italian Government will take cognizance of the Department’s studies in making its plans for restoration of elective councils in the Units of local government.

In as much as the Allied Governments do not intend to present any proposal regarding the reconstruction of local government, it is presumed that the Italian Government will proceed with its plans for electoral lists for communal and provincial elections and will hold such elections at an early date. The Italian Government may hold [Page 983] elections anywhere in Italy when it is ready. However, in those areas where Allied Military Government is to be maintained pending final settlement of frontier questions, local elections must not be permitted to interfere with Allied Military Government administration.

The decision of the Department not to offer its advice and suggestion to the Italian Government regarding the form of local government does not preclude the Allied Commission, operating through its Local Government Sub-Commission, from continuing its function of rendering advice to the Italian Government to ensure that the procedure in local elections is free, fair, and democratic. The Allied Commission should renew to the Parri Government the suggestions made earlier to the Bonomi Government that the law of 191553 be so modified as to provide for:

Adequate provision for nomination of candidates prior to the voting;
Control of electioneering at the polling places;
The supplying of official ballots.

The Allied Commission, however, should not insist on changes so elaborate that they would tend to place an excessive burden on the smaller communes. The officers of the Allied Commission should be open to such views as are expressed by Italian officials regarding Italian experience in democratic procedures in local elections. It is the desire of the Department that local elections be held as soon as possible; and, although we must insist that the procedure be free, fair, and democratic, technical objections to minor details should not be permitted to delay the calling of these elections. In any case, it is probable that the procedure followed in the first elections in Italy for twenty years will be subject to subsequent revision.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
James C. Dunn
  1. Not printed.
  2. Law of February 4, 1915, on communal and provincial government. For text, see Manuale ad uso dei deputati al parlamento nazionale, XXVIII legislatura (Rome, 1929), p. 445.