740.00119 Control (Austria)/7–1649: Telegram

The Chargé in Austria (Dowling) to the Secretary of State

secret

859. Delau 136, July 6.1 Re renewed British proposal for recision AC 1945 decision on Austrian political parties. Legation is not inclined [Page 1218]to regard seriously British argument that Socialists might through inclination challenge elections after occupation ends, be led into cooperation with Communists. Former may well be tempted challenge elections if they suffer serious losses but Legation believes present staunch opposition to Communists would be maintained and that challenge if made would therefore be confined to such legal measures as might be undertaken for record and propaganda purposes without benefiting Communists. We view with less equanimity possibility that Soviets might challenge legality of new Austrian Government (Legtel 634, May 312).

In any event we consider British proposal academic at this stage for it appears unlikely Soviet element AC would concur even if Western Powers were to reach agreement thereon. Moreover provision in 1949 electoral law for presentation list of candidates by 100 voter groups seems to have stopped for moment at least clamor for political liberty instigated by Socialists and subsequently taken up albeit halfheartedly and for propaganda only by People’s Party. This provision, although included in constitutional law, is not of constitutional nature and could therefore be over-ruled only by unanimous AC action which could never be obtained. Socialists have indicated to Legation that they would oppose any Allied action against implementation this provision; some People’s Party representatives have said privately they would like prevent implementation but have indicated party could take no overt action while other representatives feel implementation will not harm party and should therefore be supported. Legation considers it important that controversy this point be avoided and therefore feels it essential that groups be permitted submit lists of candidates provided they adhere to letter of law and do not engage in political campaigning. At present, however, prospective new parties including pro-Nazis have already begun political campaigning while implying they will participate in elections under 100 voter group provision. Legation considers this situation must be corrected and to this end submits following recommendations:

1.
US should endeavor obtain AC approval new parties which meet qualifications set forth 1945 decision in order to demonstrate that decision does not in fact work to repress all new parties.
2.
Once AC approval of new parties has been obtained US should then endeavor obtain AC action against unapproved parties now campaigning with intention participate in elections under 100 voter group provision. This action will by the nature of the situation hit the Kraus group3 primarily and should be coupled with renewed publicity re US [Page 1219]opposition to Nazism. Since it is believed pro-Nazi tendencies of Kraus group can be clearly demonstrated Legation believes it would be difficult for other elements in AC to refuse to go along with US in disapproval this group.
3.
In connection with action outlined in 2 above US should make it clear that it will not object to participation in elections of 100 voter groups which adhere strictly to electoral law and do not engage in political campaign. Our position would be that any group making political campaign should be regarded as political party and thus subject to AC 1945 decision.

Legation believes that foregoing course, if it could be successfully carried out, would go far towards eliminating any grounds on which elections could subsequently be challenged while at same time permitting Austrians considerable degree political liberty and yet allowing US take preventive action against recrudescence Nazism. If concurrence other AC elements could not be obtained we would at least have demonstrated justifiable basis US attitude re Austrian political developments.4

Sent Department 859, repeated London 159.

Dowling
  1. Not printed; but see footnote 1 to telegram P 3579, July 11, p. 1213.
  2. Ante, p. 1212.
  3. An association of independent newspaper editors in the western provinces of Austria, led by Dr. Herbert Kraus, editor of the weekly Berichte und Informationen, which hoped to run candidates in the October national elections.
  4. In telegram 864, July 18, from Vienna, not printed, Dowling reported that he had failed to reconcile his and Keyes’ views on the fourth party question, and while he was not satisfied with the program outlined in this telegram, he felt it was the only feasible action since the 1945 decision could not be rescinded. (863.00/7–1849)