88. Memorandum From William Stearman of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Embassy Efforts to Avoid a “One Party” Senate Election in South Vietnam

Attached at Tab A is a report from the CIA describing efforts we made in Saigon to avoid the threat of a “one party” Senate election in South Vietnam scheduled for August.2 To our knowledge none of these activities were cleared by the NSC, and this report represents our first word on what appears to have seen a major intrusion on internal GVN politics. The effort included CIA encouragement—[less than 1 line not declassified]—for the formation of two new political parties and stimulation of negotiations among politicians to form Senate lists.

The Agency and the Embassy clearly were responding to the possibility that only Thieu’s Democracy Party would contest the planned election for one-half of the Senate’s membership. Other parties were not expected to participate as a result of a tight filing schedule which, they claimed, did not provide sufficient time to negotiate formation of lists and their fears that the election would be loaded in Thieu’s favor. In a memo of June 16 (2 days before the filing cutoff), the Agency had alerted us to the possibility of a one party election but had not indicated the actions it was then taking to avert this contingency. (In any event the memo was OBE by the time we received it. The filed date had passed and four slates registered.)

Although no opposition or independent slates filed for the election, four groups (two associated with Thieu and two unknown, probably GVN-inspired lists) registered. The Embassy has commented that Thieu’s lists are certain of victory and that he therefore will control the formerly independent Upper House. Significantly, the Embassy has also apportioned the blame for this largely no-contest election to both the administration and the politicians, who had ample warning of the legal filing schedule yet—apparently without harassment—failed to compose their own differences to file a joint Senate slate.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 164, Vietnam Country Files, Vietnam, May–September 1973. Secret; Eyes Only. Sent for information. Kissinger’s initials appear at the top of the page and he wrote: “They can’t do this on their own.”
  2. A memorandum from Shackley to Godley and Kennedy, “Efforts to Avert a ‘One-Party’ Senate Election in South Vietnam,” June 21, attached but not printed.