740.00119 Control (Austria)/3–1949: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Austria


260. Dept supports position US High Commissioner USFA’s P 3156 Mar 191 Allied Council should not recognize other than three [Page 1208]existing parties in Aust and regrets Brit disposition to change attitude at this late date prior to coming elections.2 While US position from standpoint adherence to democratic principles may be somewhat vulnerable believe it justified by fol considerations:

Political stability:—If Allied Council recognizes one splinter party it would appear morally obligated to recognize all applicants qualified with respect to program free of Nazi features. In view tendency already evident to form number groupings both right-wing and left-wing character we believe admission other parties would lead to political fragmentation and uncertainty that would threaten existence of stable coalition and benefit chiefly Communists and Sovs. Schaerf’s effort to estab left-wing Progressive Socialist Party USFA’s P 3154 Mar 183 appears to foreshadow Communist and Sov tactics under such circumstances in attempt to undermine strength and influence Socialist Party.
Non-intervention in present election campaign:—As suggested P 3156 AC recognition other parties now will be interpreted as intervention on behalf Socialists against interests of People’s Party in election campaign already under way even though AC action may be presented as one taken on basis of democratic principles. We feel US would be less subject to criticism in Aust if no change made at this time in control over splinter groups than if introduction of change consequences of which will be bound to attract widespread and concentrated attention.
Question of freedom of action Aust Govt:—Recognize our position has effect of limiting independence Aust Govt in manner inconsistent with certain our stated objectives in Aust yet consider this to be one of controls necessary to maintain for present in larger undertaking to achieve and safeguard maximum extent of Aust independence in face Sov and Communist efforts to bring Aust under domination USSR. Maintenance of this control appears far less objectionable from standpoint of relation to Aust independence than continued imposition levy schilling requirements for meeting occupation costs. This might be suggested to Brit reps in discussions on both subjects at Vienna.
Question of partisan motivation:—Our impression is Aust proponents admission splinter parties motivated less by principle than by considerations immediate campaign tactics. Thus Socialists put in paradoxical position espousing action that would lead to estab right-wing party presumably under control former Nazi elements. Such party would seem objectionable to Socialists except as instrumentality for partisan advantage in electoral contest.4
  1. Supra.
  2. The Austrian national elections were scheduled for October 9, 1949.
  3. Not printed.
  4. In telegram 269, March 25, to Vienna, not printed, the Department of State informed Legation Vienna that a British Embassy official had presented arguments similar to those expressed in telegram P 3156, supra, and had been told that the United States could not support the British proposal (740.00119 Control (Austria)/3–1949).