851.00/1–2746: Telegram

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


432. Qualified observers here state that the Communists regard the “new perspectives unfolded by the departure of De Gaulle and the formation of the Gouin Govt as a period of armed truce”; these informants stress the viewpoint that if De Gaulle had remained in power or had merely reshuffled his Cabinet the Communists probably would have become openly an opposition party but that the latter are now prisoners of a complicated economic and political situation wherein the advantages of intense opposition which would too greatly alarm the middle urban and rural classes on the eve of the elections are less attractive to the Communist leadership than the profit that may be derived from “persuading the masses and the lower middle classes that the real governing elite of the nation can be found only in the ranks of the Communist Party”. Participation in the new govt is rendered all the more attractive to the Communists by the fact that non-Communists have assumed the responsibility of directing posts that will prove the most trying between the present time and the elections.

During the political manoeuvring of the past 2 days the Communists opposed the strict application of the Mendès-France program, especially with regard to the total blocking of working class wages; they wish to avoid having their hands tied on this question since one of their comrades remains as Minister of Labor and since they attach paramount importance to manifesting their domination over the CGT at the latter’s Congress in April. In this connection it is pertinent that the latest issue of Humanité, that of Jan 25, carries prominently an article by the Communist Secretary General of the Miner’s Union Duguet stressing the point that because Marcel Paul Communist Minister of Industrial Production recently increased wages in certain coal mining basins, the miners “are redoubling their efforts to increase production”.

In the letter dated Jan 26 which Duclos addressed to Gouin, the former made it clear that the Communist program does not “coincide with all the measures” outlined by the new President in the latter’s letter of Jan 25 addressed to the Three Big Parties and consequently it is probable that the Communists as usual will endeavor to have their cake and eat it too by attempting to prove to the nation that while they are not shirking their patriotic duties as a “govt party” they have not been permitted to form a govt “in the image of the nation” which could alone save France from disaster.