865.00/1–746: Telegram

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


80. At his political meeting this morning Admiral Stone75 talked of his interview with de Gasperi76 on Saturday77 about:

Conversion of Italian currency (see my 64, January 778) and
Constituent Assembly.

[Here follows discussion of conversion of Italian currency.]

Prime Minister said that law for administrative (local) elections had been approved and contained all of Admiral Stone’s suggested improvements (see my 3468, November 9 and my 79 January 779). He said that draft law for political (national) elections would be coming up before “Consulta” next week for consideration and that that would invariably bring up question of powers of Constituent Assembly (see Dept’s 1899, October 22.80) He indicated that powers of Constituent Assembly would undoubtedly be discussed in Cabinet meeting at same time and that decision would have to be reached then.

[Page 875]

In discussing Constituent Assembly and problem of limitation of its powers, Prime Minister said that in his view it was possible for present Govt under Lieutenant General81 to operate simultaneously with Constituent Assembly in session. He expressed view that it would be difficult for present Govt to approve new law limiting powers of Constituent Assembly in view of existence of DLL 151 of June 25, 1944.82 He added that in Nenni’s83 view present law is satisfactory and that Allies would not intervene to change it (as Dept is aware Nenni and Socialist Party along with Communists take position that Constituent Assembly will be sovereign once elected and will govern country as well as determine institutional question and provide new constitution). A possible compromise with Left Wing parties might be, De Gasperi suggested, for Constituent Assembly to appoint two persons to advise Lieutenant General until form of new government had been finally determined. In speaking of various possible courses De Gasperi mentioned as desirable referendum to determine life and powers of Constituent Assembly and referendum on institutional question. As possible compromise with Left Wing parties on this question he suggested “indicative referendum” which he explained as referendum on institutional question which would not be binding upon Constituent Assembly to accept but which would give it indication of views of people to assist it in making final decision. If vote were overwhelming for Republic or for Monarchy Assembly would De Gasperi pointed out be morally bound to accept it. If on other hand referendum proved public opinion fairly evenly divided Assembly would then in fact be free to decide issue.

Re Monarchy Prime Minister said that Liberal Party favored Regency on behalf of 8-year-old Prince of Naples. He added, however, that entire Royal family, that is King and Prince and Princess of Piedmont were opposed to Regency.

De Gasperi said he wished Allies would demand plebiscite on institutional question, that in his view Moscow Declaration of 194384 established that right. He stressed several times to Admiral Stone that now is time for Allied Govts to take decision on Constituent Assembly and procedure to be followed in determining institutional question if they intend ever to do so. He indicated that he felt that Govt would accept compromise such as “indicative referendum”. Finally de Gasperi referred to several letters which Admiral Stone had written to [Page 876] his predecessor Parri85 asking for views of Italian Govt with respect to powers of Constituent Assembly (see my 2599, September 686 and 2806, September 2187). De Gasperi asked Stone to write to him again asking for reply to his various letters which Admiral will do. It is understood that Prime Minister will use this to force issue in early Cabinet meetings.

I consider that discussions during next few days and weeks on this question will be of highest importance to Italian people and to future of Italy and if Dept has any views on procedure to be followed or in [on?] powers of Constituent Assembly which it desires conveyed to Italian Govt I should be instructed now and I informed Admiral Stone and his chief legal adviser of contents of Dept’s 1899, October 22. Chief Commissioner, British Ambassador89 and I all agree with Dept’s interpretation expressed therein and I would hope that Dept might obtain agreement of British Govt to instruct Admiral Stone to convey these views to Italian Govt as representing views of Allied Govts on DLL 151 and Constituent Assembly. I cannot refrain from pointing out, however, that in my view provisions along lines of paragraph [7?] of draft modus vivendi which I saw during my last visit to Dept are means best adapted to fulfill requirement that Italian people shall choose their own form of Govt.

  1. Rear Adm. Ellery W. Stone, U.S.N.R., Chief Commissioner Allied Commission (for Italy).
  2. Alcide de Gasperi, Italian Prime Minister.
  3. January 5.
  4. Neither printed.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iv, p. 989.
  6. Prince Humbert.
  7. Decree Law of the Lieutenant General No. 151 provided Italy with a provisional constitution; for text, see Gazzetta Ufficiale, July 8, 1944.
  8. Pietro Nenni, Vice President, Italian Council of Ministers.
  9. For text of Moscow Declaration regarding Italy, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 759.
  10. Ferrnccio Parri was succeeded by Alcide de Gasperi December 10, 1945.
  11. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iv, p. 985.
  12. Not printed.
  13. Sir Noel Charles.