865.00/4–2148: Telegram

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


2123. The initial French reaction (Communists excluded) to Gasperi’s smashing victory in the Italian elections has been one of elation coupled with relief that the Communist threat on France’s southern flank has received a definite setback. It will be recalled that prior to the Italian elections there was very serious concern over the situation in Italy—particularly in the north—and a fear that if the Communist–Nenni bloc emerged as the largest single group and was not then included in the government the Communists would foment widespread disorders, not excluding some form of insurrectionary or separatist action in the north. While the question of what form the Communist reaction to their defeat in Italy will take still looms large in the minds of most Frenchmen the outcome of the elections, and particularly the Communist losses in certain key industrial cities of the north, has tended—for the moment at least—partially to dissipate what was a very large and ominous cloud on France’s international horizon.

Insofar as the French internal situation is concerned, qualified observers agree that the Gasperi victory in Italy should tend to strengthen the position of the Schuman Government. They are equally of the opinion that if the situation had been reversed and the Communists had polled the greatest number of votes (thus accentuating the Soviet peril on France’s southern border) De Gaulle’s position would have been strengthened.

Sent Department as 2123, repeated Rome as 197, London 310, Moscow 107 and Berlin as 177.