The Chargé in Greece (Rankin) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 1—11:25 a.m.]
277. Mytel 248, February 21.49 Pursuant receipt message from Bevin refusing endorse majority system as requested, Regent yesterday signed law No. 1021 providing for reapplication 1936 legislation in forthcoming elections (proportional system) but lifting restrictions on number of seats (300) and voting of military personnel. He also signed decree fixing electoral districts and representation on basis one seat per 20,000 population 1940 censuses (total 354 seats) and stipulating balloting between sunrise and sundown, March 31.
Though they have thus obtained proportional system for which they asked, reluctance to face balloting March 31 is becoming increasingly evident among anti-Royalist groups with threat of abstention spreading to Center.
[Here follows an account of comment by Greek newspapers and official reaction thereto.]
British Embassy feels possibility abstention Left and even Center parties from elections is very real. Leeper told me privately his efforts to build up Center have completely failed and hazarded guess Right might win absolute majority even if Center and Left did participate. He expects a 2 weeks’ delay in election date for “technical” reasons in any case. Soviet Ambassador50 recently expressed to me opinion that disorders inevitable if elections held March 31 and asked my views. Replied I foresaw no danger serious disturbances unless instigated by orders of some large organization.