The Chargé in Greece (Rankin) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 8—11:20 a.m.]
317. From Grady Mission for Henderson from Grady. Three Chiefs of Mission paid courtesy call on Regent March 7. Although speculation had appeared in press that hour long visit of Sophoulis to Regent on March 6 was for purpose of discussing an election postponement and that Regent might be convinced that some delay was necessary we found Regent firmly determined that elections shall take place as scheduled.
A campaign was started by Leftists on our arrival to shake our purpose to proceed alleging dire consequences if elections were held [Page 119] on date planned. Sophoulis has stood firm on date but has regularly given as a reason his promise to the Allies. Perhaps 75% of present Govt wants postponement but several Ministers have or will be dropped because of public statements favoring delay. Regent and we both believe Leftist campaign for delay is ordered from abroad in order to sabotage the elections, gain time to build up Leftist strength and when ready seize power. Center party as represented by present Govt wishes postponement to gain time not to do the things they have failed to accomplish during the past 3 months and which they could not in any case accomplish with a month or 6 weeks’ extension but to salvage something for their party and themselves by political trading with EAM. Communists are today showing evidence of desire to trade and are proposing 50–50 coalition with the Center if the elections are postponed for 2 months. I anticipate further proposals as they become convinced they cannot force a postponement. I feel certain that elections will be held as scheduled and I think there is a chance that in the end the Communists will vote. We are standing pat and have refused to be drawn into political discussions or postponement agitation. Mission has made no public statements involving policy since press conference February 27. Factual bulletins regarding mission’s organization and personnel are being released to local newspapers every few days. [Grady.]