851.00/1–2246: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State


332. My 319, January 21.10 The meetings of the different political parties continued until late last night with no agreement being reached on the formation of a new Government. Following is a summary of the chronological development:

The Socialists suggested to the Communists that as the largest party they take the initiative in forming a new Government. The Communists replied by stating that they were prepared to form a tripartite Government with Thorez as President. A meeting between Communist and MRP leaders followed to discuss this proposal and the MRP leaders, while not formally refusing, let the Communists know that a majority of the MRP would probably oppose Thorez’ candidacy. In the evening the MRP confirmed this position and the Communists then countered by proposing to the Socialists that a Communist Communist–Socialist Socialist coalition government be formed with a Communist President. The Socialists who continue to support the tripartite formula met at 9:30 last night to consider this proposal but reached no decision. They replied to the Communists that a number of Socialist Deputies were en route to Paris from the provinces and that there were not sufficient members in the meeting to reach a decision. Under these circumstances they informed the Communists that no reply would be forthcoming until this morning.

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As a result of the foregoing not even members of the different political parties are willing to go out on any limbs as to what solution will finally be reached. Despite continued Communist support of Thorez’ candidacy many observers still believe that the Communists will not insist on him in view of the heavy responsibility which would fall on the Communist Party should he become President at this particular time. (By proposing Thorez and later agreeing to support another candidate the Communists would be in a position later to criticize the Government or even to withdraw from it stating that their candidate Thorez was the only man who could have done the job and that they had simply agreed to support another candidate as a gesture of national unity.) Such observers believe that the Communists will agree to compromise on either a Socialist or on Herriot should the Socialists also endeavor to sidestep the responsibility of having a member of their party become President. While both the Socialists and the MRP take a dim view of Herriot they may agree on him if no other solution is forthcoming. The position of the MRP still remains obscure, however, and there are numerous indications of serious differences of opinion within the party.

Therefore, this morning the situation still remains as confused as last evening and no final decisions have been made. There is talk that if no agreement can be reached efforts may be made to set up an “interim directorate of technicians under the auspices of the three big parties” to carry on until the Constitution is drafted and until new elections can be held. People who suggest this possibility, however, are extremely fuzzy on how it could be carried out.

Dept please repeat to London as our No. 51.

  1. Not printed.