No. 100

750G.0221/8–151: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Italy 1

secret   priority

552. Dept informing Brit Emb it proposes if FonOff agrees hand fol aide-mémoire Ital Emb here2 (re Trieste tel 84 Jul 213 Rome tel 354 Jul 204 London tel 465 Jul 243 London tel 624 Jul 315):

“Dept of State in consultation with HM FonOff has carefully considered request of Ital Govt that AMG in FTT adopt for next communal elections in Zone A an electoral law based on current Ital law governing similar elections Italy and providing for system of ‘linked lists’ (apparentamento). Dept has noted that Ital Govt’s request is based on estimated likely outcome of Trieste communal elections as it affects composition of Trieste Communal Council.

[Page 229]

As Ital Emb aware AMG considered this matter in Jan and Feb 1951 and then concluded that electoral law under which Zone A communal elections were held 1949 (AMG Order No. 33 of 1949) is better suited to present local situation Trieste than wld be law based on linked-list system. Accordingly Gen Airey announced Feb 9, 1951 that regs covering elections this year wld fol pattern of AMG Order No. 33.

Dept of State has consulted Allied auths in Trieste, fol Ital Govt’s request, and finds situation there has not so changed as to warrant change now in plans publicly announced by AMG. Dept is confident Ital Govt will share its concern that AMG, and US and UK Govts, not open to ques their attachment to democratic principles thru altering in a time of stress electoral law announced after careful deliberation.

Dept is also confident Ital Govt will understand US Govt must consider broader implications of this ques as they affect problem of future of Trieste. Dept does not consider that acceding to Ital Govt’s request wld contribute to realization of policies of US and Ital Govts re Trieste. In addition, results of popular vote in Trieste which wld not be affected by proposed change, provide best reflection of sentiments of population there, and are thus of greater significance to US and Ital policy, than composition of communal council, which functions under auth of AMG. Elections held under Order No. 33 have provided and will continue to provide fair and democratic means for people of Trieste to indicate their sentiments.”

FYI Dept informing Brit Emb considers fol are compelling reasons for not acceding to Ital request which wld be undesirable spell out to Itals: While Ital Govt has scrupulously avoided basing request on factors outside FTT, broader implications such factors outweigh largely formalistic points re communal council. Dept believes that acceding to Ital request although perhaps having desirable short terms consequences Italy wld in long run hinder rather than help possibility Italo-Yugo agmt on Trieste ques. Yugo Govt wld doubtless resent Allied acquiescence to Ital pressure and stiffen its public position countering Ital demands. In Italy and Trieste extreme nationalist sentiment wld doubtless be fortified and encouraged by impression it can control AMG, thus leading to intransigence vis-à-vis Yugo as well as US and UK. Conversely Dept not convinced failure US and UK to “support” Ital Govt in current context wld significantly or in long run damage de Gasperi’s position, but believes ref to relevance this request to overall context Trieste problem may have salutary effect.6

  1. Drafted by Greene and cleared with Williamson, Bonbright, Campbell, and UNP; repeated priority to Trieste, Belgrade, and London.
  2. On July 20 an official from the Italian Embassy formally requested that the Department of State approve the adoption by the AMG of an electoral law providing for linked lists for the October communal elections; he claimed that this system had proved its value in combating Communism in Italy and therefore should be adopted in Trieste. The Italian request and the Department’s initial response are summarized in telegram 84 to Trieste, July 20. (750G.00/7–2051)
  3. Not printed.
  4. Telegram 354 informed the Department of State of Ambassador Dunn’s recommendation that the linked-list voting system be adopted in light of its importance to Prime Minister De Gasperi and his efforts to quell the nationalistic agitation in Italy. (750G.00/7–2051)
  5. Not printed.
  6. Telegram 624 reported that the British Foreign Office was of the opinion that the original AMG decision against the linked-list voting system should be upheld since the old electoral law produced satisfactory results, and any change now would harm the prestige of the AMG. (750G.00/7–3151)
  7. In telegram 710 from London, August 3, the Department of State was informed that the British Foreign Office approved the text of the aide-mémoire and expected to reply orally to the Italian Embassy in London in a similar vein. (750G.00/8–351) A copy of the aide-mémoire given to Mario Luciolli of the Italian Embassy on August 6 is in file 750G.00/8–651. As reported in the memorandum of conversation of August 6, when Luciolli learned that the Department of State would not consent to extending the linked-list voting system to Trieste, he requested on behalf of his government that the Department the agree to postponing the election.(750G.00/8–651)