851.00/9–1347: Telegram

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

3734. A high official of Interior Ministry reviewed for me today in confidence the internal French political situation as he sees it. He began by stating that the French Parliament had not recessed one day too soon and that had it remained in session much longer the Ramadier Government would probably have fallen. He said that Parliamentary nerves and tempers were getting very frayed; “with Parliament in session there was the ever present possibility of some incident capable of precipitating a major crisis particularly in view of the stresses within the Socialist Party resulting from the Lyon Congress coupled with the difference of views between the various parties which compose the present government”.

Commenting on Ramadier’s position (my informant is close to both Ramadier and Auriol) he said that while several days ago there had been considerable pressure from certain Socialist elements for Ramadier to resign, Ramadier strongly supported by Auriol and Blum is determined, in the absence of some unpredictable development, to continue on until after the municipal elections. He will use this period to try to work out a governmental plan looking to establishment of internal economic and financial stability (balancing budget, adoption of a sound fiscal and tax policy, stabilizing wages and prices, et cetera) for presentation to the Assembly when it reconvenes in November.

My informant believes it is impossible at this juncture to predict what will happen in the period following the elections. While the results of the elections will certainly influence the situation, what happens will in reality be determined almost entirely by the economic and food situation. If France should fail by that time to have the certainty of obtaining sufficient credits (International Bank loan and US credits) to tide over the hiatus period from November until next spring, when the French hope the Marshall Plan will go into effect, the social and political situation will rapidly deteriorate and the Ramadier government will assuredly fall. In such event my source was unable to forecast what would follow but expressed the conviction that while initially the immediate result of such a crisis might appear to strengthen De Gaulle “whose influence and prestige have increased in the past two months, in the final analysis it will be the Communists who profit most”. He went on to express the view that if a collapse occurs with an apparently insoluble political impasse it is possible that Auriol “who is as determined as Ramadier to keep the Communists out of the government” might ask De Gaulle to form a government. In such event my source does not believe that the Communists would oppose De Gaulle with insurrectionary action, but would redouble [Page 749] their efforts to paralyze every phase of French national economy with the firm and probably correct belief that if De Gaulle fails again a Communist government would inevitably then take over.

The foregoing possibilities are, of course, based on an economic collapse or serious deterioration of the present situation. On the other hand, if France obtains the necessary credits to stabilize the situation in the interim period prior to the Marshall Plan taking effect, my informant believes that despite very serious difficulties and grave problems the Ramadier government (possibly with a few Cabinet changes) has a reasonable chance to continue on in office, particularly if a realistic and sound fiscal, tax, wage, and price policy is adopted. He said: “In other words, if we can get sufficient help to prevent the situation from breaking down the chances of either extreme (De Gaulle or the Communists) coming into power will be certainly postponed and there will be a real chance of seeing the present coalition evolve into a reasonably strong democratic government with sufficient prestige and authority to govern. In so far as resisting Communism is concerned, the attitude of both the political leaders and the public has never been better since the liberation. On the other hand, the economic, financial and food outlook has never been blacker. (I agree with this last statement). If a collapse can be prevented it should be possible to maintain and even strengthen resistance to the Communists. If on the other hand, the situation disintegrates, the Communists alone will profit.”

While the foregoing opinions are naturally speculative and are in fact more optimistic than the views of some other political observers, I report them at length because of the past reliability of the source and the information to which he has access. I concur with the view that if before the October elections the French see no immediate hope of credits to tide them over the winter months, the Ramadier government is most certainly doomed and grave social and political troubles appear inevitable. I am also inclined to agree that while such a situation might initially appear to benefit De Gaulle, in the long run it would be the Communists who would profit most and who might succeed in coming to power.

Sent Department as 3734, repeated London for Clayton as 734, to Moscow by airmail.