863.00/8–1749: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France

secret

3102.1 Pls bring fol to Schuman’s attention:

In order to end confusion in AC Vienna on question of political parties and their participation in the forthcoming elections Brit High Commissioner will introduce on Aug 26 resolution to repeal AC decision of Sept 11, 1945 which established four-power control over formation new parties. Brit High Commissioner also instructed to oppose proposed Fr compromise to request list of parties recommended for authorization by Aust Govt and to exclude only those of Nazi or pan-German character. Gen Keyes has been instructed to support Brit resolution for repeal and consequently will take no position on proposed Fr compromise.2

We consider that common tripartite policy in AC on this question is necessary in order that control over political parties in forthcoming elections may be transferred to Aust Govt and AC authority in this field terminated. This action is designed to avoid misunderstanding among occupation powers concerning extent of intervention in Aust political life which may be possible either under existing decision or as result of agreement on various compromise proposals. This course is also justified in order to avoid future contesting of elections by Aust parties or by USSR on ground that full democratic franchise and freedom of action by political parties was hampered by AC.

Recent AC approval Aust election law creates further confusion as it will be impossible to prevent 100-voter groups from functioning in elections as political parties. We consider that activity by 100-voter groups unless prohibited specifically by AC would undermine authority of AC and would endanger anticipated anti-Communist majority in elections. If AC decision remains in force Sov element will continue to introduce applications for new parties thus giving Sovs veto power over new parties and decisive control over Aust political life.

We consider repeal AC decision would be preferable to present situation and to possible uses which Sovs may make of existing AC authority. Repeal decision would deprive Sov member of veto privileges on Aust political life and would reduce to a minimum [Page 1231]danger of wastage of votes from coalition authority by rise of splinter parties.

US objective in instructions to Keyes motivated by desire to preserve freedom of elections in Aust, to prevent future contesting of elections and to prevent AC from being placed in position of giving approval or disapproval to any splinter group which may apply for recognition. In view of Treaty developments we consider that Western occupation powers should seek gradual transfer of control and responsibility to Aust Govt in Aust internal matters and repeal of AC decision would be major step in that direction. It is believed that most effective means for combatting Communist pressures and infiltration in Aust is maintenance of present coalition. In forthcoming elections we consider best means of maintaining coalition is to transfer responsibility for political party activity to Aust Govt and to avoid appearance that any particular party in Aust has support of Western occupation powers.

Please express to Schuman hope that appropriate instructions will be sent to Fr High Commissioner to support Brit and US elements on this question at forthcoming AC meeting.3

Acheson
  1. Repeated to Vienna as 980, London as 2889, and Moscow as 588.
  2. Mr. Voorhees, in WAR 93103, August 19, not printed, gave General Keyes a restatement of the Department of State position. In telegram 1125, August 24, from Vienna, not printed, Dowling reported that Keyes interpreted his latest message regarding the approval of political parties to mean that he had not yet received definite instructions to support the British resolution. (863.00/8–2449)
  3. Telegram 3476, August 23, from Paris, not printed, reported that Schuman, who was personally handling the matter of the repeal of the Allied Council decision on Austrian political parties, was visiting Germany and would not return to Paris until August 25. The French Foreign Ministry would, however, try to telephone the United States views to him. (740.00119 Control (Austria)/8–2349) In a subsequent telegram Embassy Paris reported a discussion between Schuman and Béthouart in Germany during which the British proposal failed to gain the support of the French Foreign Minister. (Telegram 3537, August 27, from Paris, not printed, 863.00/8–2749)