122. Intelligence Information Cable1

TDCS/DB 315/01581–69


  • Comments of President Charles de Gaulle on chances of failure and victory in the referendum and on former Prime Minister Georges Pompidou’s possible political future


  • [1 line not declassified]


  • [4½ lines not declassified]

(Summary. In a conversation [1½ lines not declassified] President Charles de Gaulle admitted that victory in the referendum will be diffi [Page 463] cult to achieve.2 He indicated that if the referendum fails, he will leave the Presidency and will never again present himself as a candidate. The General said that “Operation Pompidou” will begin as soon as he leaves and that Gaullism will be finished. Although Pompidou will probably win an election, he will have against him the Communists and the centrists. De Gaulle will not publicly support or oppose Pompidou. De Gaulle said that the conservative right will prove very demanding and that partisans of supranational Europe will once again begin to make themselves heard. De Gaulle does not plan to ask Pompidou to declare on television on 23 April3 that Pompidou will not be a candidate if the referendum fails because de Gaulle believes that Pompidou will refuse to do so. Should the referendum pass, and de Gaulle will remain even if it passes only by one vote, de Gaulle will rapidly make proposals which Minister Couve de Murville will carry out. De Gaulle wants the referendum to succeed to pave the way for participation in business in order to change the nature of capitalism in France and to prevent Communism. End summary.)

[Omitted here is the body of the report.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 674, Country Files—Europe, France, Vol. II. Secret; [handling restriction not declassified]; Controlled Dissem.
  2. De Gaulle had proposed referenda that would increase regional autonomy and modify the Senate to reflect the increased power of the regions. In an April 10 interview, he stated that he regarded the outcome of the referenda as a vote of confidence and would resign if they were defeated.
  3. Pompidou’s televised national speech on April 23 was summarized in Henry Tanner, “Pompidou Bids Voters Back de Gaulle,” New York Times, April 24, 1969, p. 10. De Gaulle spoke to the nation on April 25. For text of his statement, see Discours et Messages, vol. 5, pp. 405–406.