206. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1

450. In brief private exchange last night following dinner which King Constantine gave in honor of Astronauts Cooper and Conrad, King referred to current political situation.

King said it imperative Stephanopoulos succeed in effort form govt although it is not yet quite clear whether Stephanopoulos has in fact obtained assurances of six or seven additional votes necessary to obtain majority. He suggested that if Embassy had any influence such influence could be terribly important in present circumstances. If current effort to form govt fails it is difficult to know what to do next.

King recognized that even though Stephanopoulos were to receive vote of confidence, one could not predict how long his govt would last. It is of greatest importance that new govt not be formed on basis of a commitment to hold elections notwithstanding fact elections must eventually be held. It would be most unfortunate if elections were held now on basis of who is right and who is wrong. Important thing is to form govt of ostensibly indefinite duration thereby eliminating prospects of early election which provide Papandreou with hold over substantial number of his deputies. When activities of left have been controlled, electoral system changed, and appropriate situation had been created, quick decision could be taken to hold new elections. King expressed opinion elections should be held under proportional system. Although proportional system might strengthen hands of Communists, Communists would be clearly visible and power of Papandreou would also be reduced.

I observed that we had always recognized that whatever government might be formed from present Parliament should be regarded as evolutionary, and agree with him that elections must eventually be held. I added I was particularly pleased that records of Crown Council meeting just published had clearly established fact King had informed Papandreou on night of Papandreou’s resignation that he was prepared to give Papandreou Defense portfolio as soon as Aspida investigation had been concluded and that he was also prepared to accept Stephanopoulos or any other CU deputy as DefMin pending completion of investigation.

Comment: King did not specify what remedy he might seek in event current effort to form government fails nor did he specifically exclude extra-Parliamentary solution. Nevertheless I found reassuring his reservations regarding durability of a govt formed from present Parliament [Page 434] and recognition of necessity for elections when appropriate conditions had been created.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 GREECE. Secert; Limdis.