851.00/1–2246: Telegram

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

us urgent

345. My 332, January 22. I have just been told by a member of the executive committee of the Socialist Party that at the meeting of Socialist-Communist leaders this morning the Socialists refused the Communist proposal to form a Communist–Socialist government stating that they “remained faithful to the tripartite formula”.

The Communists then proposed that since the MRP would not accept a Communist President in a tripartite government and since the Socialists refused a Communist Communist–Socialist Socialist coalition, the Socialists should put forward a Presidential candidate under the tripartite formula. [Page 405] The Socialists proposed Auriol but the Communists said he was unsatisfactory and they countered by proposing that the Socialists name Gouin. The Socialists accepted this and at a Communist Communist–Socialist Socialist meeting they are so informing the Communists.

While the MRP position is still not clear (there is strong opposition in the ranks of the MRP to the tripartite formula with either a Socialist or a Communist President and a significant number of delegates would like to enter the opposition) my informant believes that regardless of this tendency the MRP will go along.

My informant was not too happy about the situation and observed that the Socialist Party was making a very considerable “sacrifice” in permitting a Socialist to be elected President: “If the new government fails, it is obvious that both the Communists and MRP, as a pre-election move, will endeavor to shift a large part of the blame onto our shoulders. Despite this risk the Socialists are obliged to assume this responsibility since neither a Communist nor a MRP President would be acceptable to the three parties and the present impasse cannot go on indefinitely.”

My informant was not only severely critical of De Gaulle for creating the present crisis but described the Communist proposal of Thorez as Chief of Government as “pure comedy—a proposal they knew would not be accepted but which was designed for consumption of the Communist rank and file and to be used in future manoeuvers”. While complications may arise (either as a result of the present Communist Communist–Socialist Socialist meeting but more possibly as a result of the MRP deliberations and decision) which could further complicate the situation, the Socialists believe that Gouin may be elected tomorrow.

Despite this optimism and even should the MRP accept the tripartite formula with Gouin, serious complications or delay may arise when discussions over Cabinet posts begin. Furthermore, the Communists are expected to insist on a Communist successor to Gouin for the important post of President of the Assembly and this could also cause difficulties.

Dept please urgently repeat this message to London for the Secretary as our 56.