[Sidenote: Crisis of 1867.]
The very first events showed one of those extraordinary changes of policy so characteristic of modern Austrian history. The decision of the government on the constitutional question was really determined by immediate practical necessity. The Hungarians required that the settlement should be ratified by a parliament, therefore a parliament must be procured which would do this. It must be a parliament in which the Germans had a majority, for the system of dualism was directly opposed to the ambitions of the Slavs and the Federalists. Belcredi, who had come into power in 1865 as a Federalist, and had suspended the constitution of 1861 on the 2nd of January 1867, ordered new elections for the diets, which were then to elect deputies to an extraordinary Reichsrath which should consider the Ausgleich, or compact with Hungary. The wording of the decree implied that the February constitution did not exist as of law; the Germans and Liberals, strenuously objecting to a "feudal-federal" constitution which would give the Slavs a preponderance in the empire, maintained that the February constitution was still in force, and that changes could only be introduced by a regular Reichsrath summoned in accordance with it, protested against the decree, and, in some cases, threatened not to take part in the elections. As the Federalists [v.03 p.0028] were all opposed to the Ausgleich, it was clear that a Reichsrath chosen in these circumstances would refuse to ratify it, and this was probably Belcredi's intention. As the existence of the empire would thereby be endangered, Beust interfered; Belcredi was dismissed, Beust himself became minister-president on the 7th of February 1867, and a new edict was issued from Vienna ordering the diets to elect a Reichsrath, according to the constitution, which was now said to be completely valid. Of course, however, those diets in which there was a Federalist majority, viz. those of Bohemia, Moravia, Carinthia and Tirol, which were already pledged to support the January policy of the government, did not acquiesce in the February policy; and they refused to elect except on terms which the government could not accept. The first three were immediately dissolved. In the elections which followed in Bohemia the influence of the government was sufficient to secure a German majority among the landed proprietors; the Czechs, who were therefore in a minority, declared the elections invalid, refused to take any part in electing deputies for the Reichsrath, and seceded altogether from the diet. The result was that Bohemia now sent a large German majority to Vienna, and the few Czechs who were chosen refused to take their seat in the parliament. [Sidenote: Beust's compact with the Poles.] Had the example of the Czechs been followed by the other Slav races it would still have been difficult to get together a Reichsrath to pass the Ausgleich. It was, however, easier to deal with the Poles of Galicia, for they had no historical rights to defend; and by sending delegates to Vienna they would not sacrifice any principle or prejudice any legal claim; they had only to consider how they could make the best bargain. Their position was a strong one; their votes were essential to the government, and the government could be useful to them; it could give them the complete control over the Ruthenes. A compact then was easily arranged.
Beust promised them that there should be a special minister for Galicia, a separate board for Galician education, that Polish should be the language of instruction in all secondary schools, that Polish instead of German should be the official language in the law courts and public offices, Ruthenian being only used in the elementary schools under strict limitations. On these terms the Polish deputies, led by Ziemialkowski, agreed to go to Vienna and vote for the Ausgleich.
[Sidenote: The constitution of 1867.]
When the Reichsrath met, the government had a large majority; and in the House, in which all the races except the Czechs were represented, the Ausgleich was ratified almost unanimously. This having been done, it was possible to proceed to special legislation for the territories, which were henceforward officially known as "the kingdoms and lands represented in the Reichsrath." A series of fundamental laws were carried, which formally established parliamentary government, with responsibility of ministers, and complete control over the budget, and there were included a number of clauses guaranteeing personal rights and liberties in the way common to all modern constitutions. The influence of the Poles was still sufficient to secure considerable concessions to the wishes of the Federalists, since if they did not get what they wished they would leave the House, and the Slovenes, Dalmatians and Tirolese would certainly follow them. Hence the German Liberals were prevented from introducing direct elections to the Reichsrath, and the functions of the Reichsrath were slightly less extensive than they had hitherto been. Moreover, the Delegation was to be chosen not by the House as a whole, but by the representatives of the separate territories. This is one reason for the comparative weakness of Austria as compared with Hungary, where the Delegation is elected by each House as a whole; the Bohemian representatives, e.g., meet and choose 10 delegates, the Galicians 7, those from Trieste 1; the Delegation, is, therefore, not representative of the majority of the chamber of deputies, but includes representatives of all the groups which may be opposing the government there, and they can carry on their opposition even in the Delegation. So it came about in 1869, that on the first occasion when there was a joint sitting of the Delegations to settle a point in the budget, which Hungary had accepted and Austria rejected, the Poles and Tirolese voted in favour of the Hungarian proposal.
[Sidenote: The Buerger Ministerium.]
As soon as these laws had been carried (December 1867), Beust retired from the post of minister-president; and in accordance with constitutional practice a parliamentary ministry was appointed entirely from the ranks of the Liberal majority; a ministry generally known as the "Buerger Ministerium" in which Giskra and Herbst—the leaders of the German party in Moravia and Bohemia—were the most important members. Austria now began its new life as a modern constitutional state. From this time the maintenance of the revised constitution of 1867 has been the watchword of what is called the Constitutional party. The first use which the new government made of their power was to settle the finances, and in this their best work was done. Among them were nearly all the representatives of trade and industry, of commercial enterprise and financial speculation; they were the men who hoped to make Austria a great industrial state, and at this time they were much occupied with railway enterprise. Convinced free-traders, they hoped by private energy to build up the fortunes of the country, parliamentary government—which meant for them the rule of the educated and well-to-do middle class—being one of the means to this end. They accepted the great burden of debt which the action of Hungary imposed upon the country, and rejected the proposals for repudiation, but notwithstanding the protest of foreign bondholders they imposed a tax of 16% on all interest on the debt. They carried out an extension of the commercial treaty with Great Britain by which a further advance was made in the direction of free trade.
[Sidenote: The Liberals and the concordat.]
Of equal importance was their work in freeing Austria from the control of the Church, which checked the intellectual life of the people. The concordat of 1855 had given the Church complete freedom in the management of all ecclesiastical affairs; there was full liberty of intercourse with Rome, the state gave up all control over the appointment of the clergy, and in matters of church discipline the civil courts had no voice—the clergy being absolutely subject to the power of the bishops, who could impose temporal as well as spiritual penalties. The state had even resigned to the Church all authority over some departments of civil life, and restored the authority of the canon law. This was the case as regards marriage; all disputes were to be tried before ecclesiastical courts, and the marriage registers were kept by the priests. All the schools were under the control of the Church; the bishops could forbid the use of books prejudicial to religion; in elementary schools all teachers were subject to the inspection of the Church, and in higher schools only Roman Catholics could be appointed. It had been agreed that the whole education of the Roman Catholic youth, in all schools, private as well as public, should be in accordance with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. The authority of the Church extended even to the universities. Some change in this system was essential; the Liberal party demanded that the government should simply state that the concordat had ceased to exist. To this, however, the emperor would not assent, and there was a difficulty in overthrowing an act which took the form of a treaty. The government wished to come to some agreement by friendly discussion with Rome, but Pius IX. was not willing to abate anything of his full claims. The ministry, therefore, proceeded by internal legislation, and in 1868 introduced three laws: (1) a marriage law transferred the decisions on all questions of marriage from the ecclesiastical to the civil courts, abolished the authority of the canon law, and introduced civil marriage in those cases where the clergy refused to perform the ceremony; (2) the control of secular education was taken from the Church, and the management of schools transferred to local authorities which were to be created by the diets; (3) complete civil equality between Catholics and non-Catholics was established. These laws were carried through both Houses in May amid almost unparalleled excitement, and at once received the imperial sanction, notwithstanding the protest of all the bishops, led by Joseph Othmar [v.03 p.0029] von Rauscher (1797-1875), cardinal archbishop of Vienna, who had earned his red hat by the share he had taken in arranging the concordat of 1855, and now attempted to use his great personal influence with the emperor (his former pupil) to defeat the bill.
The ministry had the enthusiastic support of the German population in the towns. They were also supported by the teaching profession, which desired emancipation from ecclesiastical control, and hoped that German schools and German railways were to complete the work which Joseph II. had begun. But the hostility of the Church was dangerous. The pope, in an allocution of 22nd June 1868, declared that these "damnable and abominable laws" which were "contrary to the concordat, to the laws of the Church and to the principles of Christianity," were "absolutely and for ever null and void." The natural result was that when they were carried into effect the bishops in many cases refused to obey. They claimed that the laws were inconsistent with the concordat, that the concordat still was in force, and that the laws were consequently invalid. The argument was forcible, but the courts decided against them. Rudigier, bishop of Linz, was summoned to a criminal court for disturbing the public peace; he refused to appear, for by the concordat bishops were not subject to temporal jurisdiction; and when he was condemned to imprisonment the emperor at once telegraphed his full pardon. In the rural districts the clergy had much influence; they were supported by the peasants, and the diets of Tirol and Vorarlberg, where there was a clerical majority, refused to carry out the school law.
On the proclamation of papal infallibility in 1870, the government took the opportunity of declaring that the concordat had lapsed, on the ground that there was a fundamental change in the character of the papacy. Nearly all the Austrian prelates had been opposed to the new doctrine; many of them remained to the end of the council and voted against it, and they only declared their submission with great reluctance. The Old Catholic movement, however, never made much progress in Austria. Laws regulating the position of the Church were carried in 1874. (For the concordat see Laveleye, La Prusse et l'Autriche, Paris, 1870.)
[Sidenote: Nationalism in Galicia and Bohemia.]
During 1868 the constitution then was open to attack on two sides, for the nationalist movement was gaining ground in Bohemia and Galicia. In Galicia the extreme party, headed by Smolka, had always desired to imitate the Czechs and not attend at Vienna; they were outvoted, but all parties agreed on a declaration in which the final demands of the Poles were drawn up; they asked that the powers of the Galician diet should be much increased, and that the members from Galicia should cease to attend the Reichsrath on the discussion of those matters with which the Galician diet should be qualified to deal. If these demands were not granted they would leave the Reichsrath. In Bohemia the Czechs were very active; while the Poles were parading their hostility to Russia in such a manner as to cause the emperor to avoid visiting Galicia, some of the Czech leaders attended a Slav demonstration at Moscow, and in 1868 they drew up and presented to the diet at Prague a "declaration" which has since been regarded as the official statement of their claims. They asked for the full restoration of the Bohemian kingdom; they contended that no foreign assembly was qualified to impose taxes in Bohemia; that the diet was not qualified to elect representatives to go to Vienna, and that a separate settlement must be made with Bohemia similar to that with Hungary. This declaration was signed by eighty-one members, including many of the feudal nobles and bishops. The German majority declared that they had forfeited their seats, and ordered new elections. The agitation spread over the country, serious riots took place, and with a view to keeping order the government decreed exceptional laws. Similar events happened in Moravia, and in Dalmatia the revolt broke out among the Bocchesi.
[Sidenote: Parliamentary breakdown of 1870.]
Before the combination of Clericals and Federalists the ministry broke down; they were divided among themselves; Counts Taaffe and Alfred Potocki, the minister of agriculture, wished to conciliate the Slav races—a policy recommended by Beust, probably with the sympathy of the emperor; the others determined to cripple the opposition by taking away the elections for the Reichsrath from the diets. Taaffe and his friends resigned in January 1870, but the majority did not long survive. In March, after long delay, the new Galician demands were definitely rejected; the whole of the Polish club, followed by the Tirolese and Slovenes, left the House, which consequently consisted of 110 members—the Germans and German representatives from Bohemia and Moravia. It was clearly impossible to govern with such a parliament. Not four years had gone by, and the new constitution seemed to have failed like the old one. The only thing to do was to attempt a reconciliation with the Slavs. The ministry resigned, and Potocki and Taaffe formed a government with this object. Potocki, now minister-president, then entered on negotiations, hoping to persuade the Czechs to accept the constitution. Rieger and Thun were summoned to Vienna; he himself went to Prague, but after two days he had to give up the attempt in despair. Feudals and Czechs all supported the declaration of 1868, and would accept no compromise, and he returned to Vienna after what was the greatest disappointment of his life. Government, however, had to be carried on; the war between Germany and France broke out in July, and Austria might be drawn into it; the emperor could not at such a crisis alienate either the Germans or the Slavs. The Reichsrath and all the diets were dissolved. This time in Bohemia the Czechs, supported by the Feudals and the Clericals, gained a large majority; they took their seats in the diet only to declare that they did not regard it as the legal representative of the Bohemian kingdom, but merely an informal assembly, and refused to elect delegates for the Reichsrath. The Germans in their turn now left the diet, and the Czechs voted an address to the crown, drawn up by Count Thun, demanding the restoration of the Bohemian kingdom. When the Reichsrath met there were present only 130 out of 203 members, for the whole Bohemian contingent was absent; the government then, under a law of 1868, ordered that as the Bohemian diet had sent no delegates, they were to be chosen directly from the people. Twenty-four Constitutionalists and thirty Declaranten were chosen; the latter, of course, did not go to Vienna, but the additional twenty-four made a working majority by which the government was carried on for the rest of the year.
[Sidenote: The ministry of Hohenwart.]
But Potocki's influence was gone, and as soon as the European crisis was over, in February 1871, the emperor appointed a ministry chosen not from the Liberals but from the Federalists and Clericals, led by Count Hohenwart and A. E. F. Schaeffle, a professor at the university of Vienna, chiefly known for his writings on political economy. They attempted to solve the problem by granting to the Federalists all their demands. So long as parliament was sitting they were kept in check; as soon as it had voted supplies and the Delegations had separated, they ordered new elections in all those diets where there was a Liberal majority. By the help of the Clericals they won enough seats to put the Liberals in a minority in the Reichsrath, and it would be possible to revise the constitution if the Czechs consented to come. They would only attend, however, on their own terms, which were a complete recognition by the government of the claims made in the Declaration. This was agreed to; and on the 12th of September at the opening of the diet, the governor read a royal message recognizing the separate existence of the Bohemian kingdom, and promising that the emperor should be crowned as king at Prague. It was received with delight throughout Bohemia, and the Czechs drew a draft constitution of fundamental rights. On this the Germans, now that they were in a minority, left the diet, and began preparations for resistance. In Upper Austria, Moravia and Carinthia, where they were outvoted by the Clericals, they seceded, and the whole work of 1867 was on the point of being overthrown. Were the movement not stopped the constitution would be superseded, and the union with Hungary endangered. Beust and Andrassy warned the emperor of the danger, and the crown prince of Saxony was summoned [v.03 p.0030] by Beust to remonstrate with him. A great council was called at Vienna (October 20), at which the emperor gave his decision that the Bohemian demands could not be accepted. The Czechs must come to Vienna, and consider a revision of the constitution in a constitutional manner. Hohenwart resigned, but at the same time Beust was dismissed, and a new cabinet was chosen once more from among the German Liberals, under the leadership of Prince Adolf Auersperg, whose brother Carlos had been one of the chief members in the Buerger Ministerium. For the second time in four years the policy of the government had completely changed within a few months. On 12th September the decree had been published accepting the Bohemian claims; before the end of the year copies of it were seized by the police, and men were thrown into prison for circulating it.
[Sidenote: Auersperg's ministry, 1871 to 1879.]
Auersperg's ministry held office for eight years. They began as had the Buerger Ministerium, with a vigorous Liberal centralizing policy. In Bohemia they succeeded at first in almost crushing the opposition. In 1872 the diet was dissolved; and the whole influence of the government was used to procure a German majority. Koller, the governor, acted with great vigour. Opposition newspapers were suppressed; cases in which Czech journalists were concerned were transferred to the German districts, so that they were tried by a hostile German jury. Czech manifestoes were confiscated, and meetings stopped at the slightest appearance of disorder; and the riots were punished by quartering soldiers upon the inhabitants. The decision between the two races turned on the vote of the feudal proprietors, and in order to win this a society was formed among the German capitalists of Vienna (to which the name of Chabrus was popularly given) to acquire by real or fictitious purchase portions of those estates to which a vote was attached. These measures were successful; a large German majority was secured; Jews from Vienna sat in the place of the Thuns and the Schwarzenbergs; and as for many years the Czechs refused to sit in the diet, the government could be carried on without difficulty. A still greater blow to the Federalists was the passing of a new electoral law in 1873. The measure transferred the right of electing members of the Reichsrath from the diets to the direct vote of the people, the result being to deprive the Federalists of their chief weapon; it was no longer possible to take a formal vote of the legal representatives in any territory refusing to appoint deputies, and if a Czech or Slovene member did not take his seat the only result was that a single constituency was unrepresented, and the opposition weakened. The measure was strongly opposed. A petition with 250,000 names was presented from Bohemia; and the Poles withdrew from the Reichsrath when the law was introduced. But enough members remained to give the legal quorum, and it was carried by 120 to 2 votes. At the same time the number of members was increased to 353, but the proportion of representatives from the different territories was maintained and the system of election was not altered. The proportion of members assigned to the towns was increased, the special representatives of the chambers of commerce and of the landed proprietors were retained, and the suffrage was not extended. The artificial system which gave to the Germans a parliamentary majority continued.
[Sidenote: Czech dissensions.]
At this time the Czechs were much weakened by quarrels among themselves. A new party had arisen, calling themselves Radicals, but generally known as the Young Czechs. They disliked the alliance with the aristocracy and the clergy; they wished for universal suffrage, and recalled the Hussite traditions. They desired to take their seats in the diet, and to join with the Germans in political reform. They violently attacked Rieger, the leader of the Old Czechs, who maintained the alliance with the Feudalists and the policy of passive opposition. Twenty-seven members of the diet led by Gregr and Stadkowsky, being outvoted in the Czech Club, resigned their seats. They were completely defeated in the elections which followed, but for the next four years the two parties among the Czechs were as much occupied in opposing one another as in opposing the Germans. These events might have secured the predominance of the Liberals for many years. The election after the reform bill gave them an increased majority in the Reichsrath. Forty-two Czechs who had won seats did not attend; forty-three Poles stood aloof from all party combination, giving their votes on each occasion as the interest of their country seemed to require; the real opposition was limited to forty Clericals and representatives of the other Slav races, who were collected on the Right under the leadership of Hohenwart. Against them were 227 Constitutionalists, and it seemed to matter little that they were divided into three groups; there were 105 in the Liberal Club under the leadership of Herbst, 57 Constitutionalists, elected by the landed proprietors, and a third body of Radicals, some of whom were more democratic than the old Constitutional party, while others laid more stress on nationality. They used their majority to carry a number of important laws regarding ecclesiastical affairs. Yet within four years the government was obliged to turn for support to the Federalists and Clericals, and the rule of the German Liberals was overthrown. [Sidenote: Financial crisis of 1873.] Their influence was indirectly affected by the great commercial crisis of 1873. For some years there had been active speculations on the Stock Exchange; a great number of companies, chiefly banks and building societies, had been founded on a very insecure basis. The inevitable crisis began in 1872; it was postponed for a short time, and there was some hope that the Exhibition, fixed for 1873, would bring fresh prosperity; the hope was not, however, fulfilled, and the final crash, which occurred in May, brought with it the collapse of hundreds of undertakings. The loss fell almost entirely on those who had attempted to increase their wealth by speculative investment. Sound industrial concerns were little touched by it, but speculation had become so general that every class of society was affected, and in the investigation which followed it became apparent that some of the most distinguished members of the governing Liberal party, including at least two members of the government, were among those who had profited by the unsound finance. It appeared also that many of the leading newspapers of Vienna, by which the Liberal party was supported, had received money from financiers. For the next two years political interest was transferred from parliament to the law courts, in which financial scandals were exposed, and the reputations of some of the leading politicians were destroyed.
[Sidenote: Fall of the Liberal ministry.]
This was to bring about a reaction against the economic doctrines which had held the field for nearly twenty years; but the full effect of the change was not seen for some time. What ruined the government was the want of unity in the party, and their neglect to support a ministry which had been taken from their own ranks. In a country like Austria, in which a mistaken foreign policy or a serious quarrel with Hungary might bring about the disruption of the monarchy, parliamentary government was impossible unless the party which the government helped in internal matters were prepared to support it in foreign affairs and in the commercial policy bound up with the settlement with Hungary. This the constitutional parties did not do. During discussions on the economic arrangement with Hungary in 1877 a large number voted against the duties on coffee and petroleum, which were an essential part of the agreement; they demanded, moreover, that the treaty of Berlin should be laid before the House, and 112 members, led by Herbst, gave a vote hostile to some of its provisions, and in the Delegation refused the supplies necessary for the occupation of Bosnia. They doubtless were acting in accordance with their principles, but the situation was such that it would have been impossible to carry out their wishes; the only result was that the Austrian ministers and Andrassy had to turn for help to the Poles, who began to acquire the position of a government party, which they have kept since then. At the beginning of 1870 Auersperg's resignation, which had long been offered, was accepted. The constitutionalists remained [v.03 p.0031] in power; but in the reconstructed cabinet, though Stremayr was president, Count Taaffe, as minister of the interior, was the most important member.
Parliament was dissolved in the summer, and Taaffe, by private negotiations, first of all persuaded the Bohemian feudal proprietors to give the Feudalists, who had long been excluded, a certain number of seats; secondly, he succeeded where Potocki had failed, and came to an agreement with the Czechs; they had already, in 1878, taken their seats in the diet at Prague, and now gave up the policy of "passive resistance," and consented to take their seats also in the parliament at Vienna.
[Sidenote: Count Taaffe.]
On entering the House they took the oath without reservation, but in the speech from the throne the emperor himself stated that they had entered without prejudice to their convictions, and on the first day of the session Rieger read a formal reservation of right. The Liberals had also lost many seats, so that the House now had a completely different aspect; the constitutionalists were reduced to 91 Liberals and 54 Radicals; but the Right, under Hohenwart, had increased to 57, and there were 57 Poles and 54 Czechs. A combination of these three parties might govern against the constitutionalists. Taaffe, who now became first minister, tried first of all to govern by the help of the moderates of all parties, and he included representatives of nearly every party in his cabinet. But the Liberals again voted against the government on an important military bill, an offence almost as unpardonable in Austria as in Germany, and a great meeting of the party decided that they would not support the government. Taaffe, therefore, was obliged to turn for support to the Right. The German members of the government resigned, their place was taken by Clericals, Poles and Czechs, Smolka was elected president of the Lower House of the Reichsrath, and the German Liberals found themselves in a minority opposed by the "iron ring" of these three parties, and helpless in the parliament of their own creation. For fourteen years Taaffe succeeded in maintaining the position he had thus secured. He was not himself a party man; he had sat in a Liberal government; he had never assented to the principles of the Federalists, nor was he an adherent of the Clerical party. He continued to rule according to the constitution; his watchword was "unpolitical politics," and he brought in little contentious legislation. The great source of his strength was that he stood between the Right and a Liberal government. There was a large minority of constitutionalists; they might easily become a majority, and the Right were therefore obliged to support Taaffe in order to avert this. They continued to support him, even if they did not get from him all that they could have wished, and the Czechs acquiesced in a foreign policy with which they had little sympathy. Something, however, had to be done for them, and from time to time concessions had to be made to the Clericals and the Federalists.
[Sidenote: The Clericals.]
The real desire of the Clericals was an alteration of the school law, by which the control of the schools should be restored to the Church and the period of compulsory education reduced. In this, however, the government did not meet them, and in 1882 the Clericals, under Prince Alfred v. Liechtenstein, separated from Hohenwart's party and founded their own club, so that they could act more freely. Both the new Clerical Club and the remainder of the Conservatives were much affected by the reaction against the doctrines of economic Liberalism. They began to adopt the principles of Christian Socialism expounded by Rudolf Mayer and Baron von Vogelfang, and the economic revolt against the influence of capital was with them joined to a half-religious attack upon the Jews. They represented that Austria was being governed by a close ring of political financiers, many of whom were Jews or in the pay of the Jews, who used the forms of the constitution, under which there was no representation of the working classes, to exploit the labour of the poor at the same time that they ruined the people by alienating them from Christianity in "godless schools." It was during these years that the foundation for the democratic clericalism of the future was laid. The chief political leader in this new tendency was Prince Aloys v. Liechtenstein, who complained of the political influence exercised by the chambers of commerce, and demanded the organization of working men in gilds. It was by their influence that a law was introduced limiting the rate of interest, and they co-operated with the government in legislation for improving the material condition of the people, which had been neglected during the period of Liberal government, and which was partly similar to the laws introduced at the same time in Germany.
[Sidenote: Special legislation.]
There seems no doubt that the condition of the workmen in the factories of Moravia and the oil-mines of Galicia was peculiarly unfortunate; the hours of work were very long, the conditions were very injurious to health, and there were no precautions against accidents. The report of a parliamentary inquiry, called for by the Christian Socialists, showed the necessity for interference. In 1883 a law was carried, introducing factory inspection, extending to mines and all industrial undertakings. The measure seems to have been successful, and there is a general agreement that the inspectors have done their work with skill and courage. In 1884 and 1885 important laws were passed regulating the work in mines and factories, and introducing a maximum working day of eleven hours in factories, and ten hours in mines. Sunday labour was forbidden, and the hours during which women and children could be employed were limited. Great power was given to the administrative authorities to relax the application of these laws in special cases and special trades. This power was at first freely used, but it was closely restricted by a further law of 1893. In 1887-1888 laws, modelled on the new German laws, introduced compulsory insurance against accidents and sickness. These measures, though severely criticized by the Opposition, were introduced to remedy obvious, and in some cases terrible social evils. Other laws to restore gilds among working men had a more direct political object. Another form of state socialism was the acquisition of railways by the state. Originally railways had been built by private enterprise, supported in some cases by a state guarantee; a law of 1877 permitted the acquisition of private lines; when Taaffe retired the state possessed nearly 5000 m. of railway, not including those which belonged to Austria and Hungary conjointly. In 1889 a minister of railways was appointed. In this policy military considerations as well as economic were of influence. In every department we find the same reaction against the doctrines of laissez-faire. In 1889 for the first time the Austrian budget showed a surplus, partly the result of the new import duties, partly due to a reform of taxation.
For a fuller description of these social reforms, see the Jahrbuch fur Gesetzgebung (Leipzig, 1886, 1888 and 1894); also the annual summary of new laws in the Zeitschrift fur Staatswissenschaft (Stuttgart). For the Christian Socialists, see Nitti, Catholic Socialism (London, 1895).
[Sidenote: The language question.]
Meanwhile it was necessary for the government to do something for the Czechs and the other Slavs, on whose support they depended for their majority. The influence of the government became more favourable to them in the matter of language, and this caused the struggle of nationalities to assume the first place in Austrian public life—a place which it has ever since maintained. The question of language becomes a political one, so far as it concerns the use of different languages in the public offices and law courts, and in the schools. There never was any general law laying down clear and universal rules, but since the time of Joseph II. German had been the ordinary language of the government. All laws were published in German; German was the sole language used in the central public offices in Vienna, and the language of the court and of the army; moreover, in almost every part of the monarchy it had become the language of what is called the internal service in the public offices and law courts; all books and correspondence were kept in German, not only in the German districts, but also in countries such as Bohemia and Galicia. The bureaucracy and the law courts had therefore become a network of German-speaking officialism extending over the whole country; no one had any share in the government [v.03 p.0032] unless he could speak and write German. The only exception was in the Italian districts; not only in Italy itself (in Lombardy, and afterwards in Venetia), but in South Tirol, Trieste, Istria and Dalmatia, Italian has always been used, even for the internal service of the government offices, and though the actual words of command are now given in German and the officers are obliged to know Serbo-Croatian it remains to this day the language of the Austrian navy. Any interference with the use of German would be a serious blow to the cause of those who hoped to Germanize the whole empire. Since 1867 the old rules have been maintained absolutely as regards the army, and German has also, as required by the military authorities, become the language of the railway administration. It remains the language of the central offices in Vienna, and is the usual, though not the only, language used in the Reichsrath. In 1869 a great innovation was made, when Polish was introduced throughout the whole of Galicia as the normal language of government; and since that time the use of German has almost entirely disappeared in that territory. Similar innovations have also begun, as we shall see, in other parts.
Different from this is what is called the external service. Even in the old days it was customary to use the language of the district in communication between the government offices and private individuals, and evidence could be given in the law courts in the language generally spoken. This was not the result of any law, but depended on administrative regulations of the government service; it was practically necessary in remote districts, such as Galicia and Bukovina, where few of the population understood German. In some places a Slav-speaking individual would himself have to provide the interpreter, and approach the government in German. Local authorities, e.g. town councils and the diets, were free to use what language they wished, and in this matter the Austrian government has shown great liberality. The constitution of 1867 laid down a principle of much importance, by which previous custom became established as a right. Article 19 runs: "All races of the empire have equal rights, and every race has an inviolable right to the preservation and use of its own nationality and language. The equality of all customary (landesueblich) languages in school, office and public life, is recognized by the state. In those territories in which several races dwell, the public and educational institutions are to be so arranged that, without applying compulsion to learn a second Landessprache, each of the races receives the necessary means of education in its own language." The application of this law gives great power to the government, for everything depends on what is meant by landesueblich, and it rests with them to determine when a language is customary. The Germans demand the recognition of German as a customary language in every part of the empire, so that a German may claim to have his business attended to in his own language, even in Dalmatia and Galicia. In Bohemia the Czechs claim that their language shall be recognized as customary, even in those districts such as Reichenberg, which are almost completely German; the Germans, on the other hand, claim that the Czech language shall only be recognized in those towns and districts where there is a considerable Czech population. What Taaffe's Administration did was to interpret this law in a sense more favourable to the Slavs than had hitherto been the case.
Peculiar importance is attached to the question of education. The law of 1867 required that the education in the elementary schools in the Slav districts should be given in Czech or Slovenian, as the case might be. The Slavs, however, required that, even when a small minority of Slav race settled in any town, they should not be compelled to go to the German schools, but should have their own school provided for them; and this demand was granted by Prazak, minister of education under Count Taaffe. The Germans had always hoped that the people as they became educated would cease to use their own particular language. Owing to economic causes the Slavs, who increase more rapidly than the Germans, tend to move westwards, and large numbers settle in the towns and manufacturing districts. It might have been expected that they would then cease to use their own language and become Germanized; but, on the contrary, the movement of population is spreading their language and they claim that special schools should be provided for them, and that men of their own nationality should be appointed to government offices to deal with their business. This has happened not only in many places in Bohemia, but in Styria, and even in Vienna, where there has been a great increase in the Czech population and a Czech school has been founded. The introduction of Slavonic into the middle and higher schools has affected the Germans in their most sensitive point. They have always insisted that German is the Kultur-sprache. On one occasion Count A. Auersperg (Anastasius Gruen) entered the diet of Carniola carrying the whole of the Slovenian literature under his arm, as evidence that the Slovenian language could not well be substituted for German as a medium of higher education.
The first important regulations which were issued under the law of 1867 applied to Dalmatia, and for that country between 1872 and 1876 a series of laws and edicts were issued determining to what extent the Slavonic idioms were to be recognized. Hitherto all business had been done in Italian, the language of a small minority living in the seaport towns. The effect of these laws has been to raise Croatian to equality with Italian. It has been introduced in all schools, so that nearly all education is given in Croatian, even though a knowledge of Italian is quite essential for the maritime population; and it is only in one or two towns, such as Zara, the ancient capital of the country, that Italian is able to maintain itself. Since 1882 there has been a Slav majority in the diet, and Italian has been disused in the proceedings of that body. In this case the concessions to the Servo-Croatians had been made by the Liberal ministry; they required the parliamentary support of the Dalmatian representatives, who were more numerous than the Italian, and it was also necessary to cultivate the loyalty of the Slav races in this part so as to gain a support for Austria against the Russian party, which was very active in the Balkan Peninsula. It was better to sacrifice the Italians of Dalmatia than the Germans of Carinthia.
It was not till 1879 that the Slovenes received the support of the government. In Carniola they succeeded, in 1882, in winning a majority in the diet, and from this time, while the diet of Styria is the centre of the German, that of Carniola is the chief support of the Slovene agitation. In the same year they won the majority in the town council of Laibach, which had hitherto been German. They were able, therefore, to introduce Illyrian as the official language, and cause the names of the streets to be written up in Illyrian. This question of street names is, as it were, a sign of victory. Serious riots broke out in some of the towns of Istria when, for the first time, Illyrian was used for this purpose as well as Italian. In Prague the victory of the Czechs has been marked by the removal of all German street names, and the Czech town council even passed a by-law forbidding private individuals to have tablets put up with the name of the street in German. In consequence of a motion by the Slovene members of the Reichsrath and a resolution of the diet of Carniola, the government also declared Slovenian to be a recognized language for the whole of Carniola, for the district of Cilli in Styria, and for the Slovene and mixed districts in the south of Carinthia, and determined that in Laibach a Slovene gymnasium should be maintained as well as the German one.
The Germans complain that in many cases the government acted very unfairly to them. They constantly refer to the case of Klagenfurt. This town in Carinthia had a population of 16,491 German-speaking Austrians; the Slovenian-speaking population numbered 568, of whom 180 were inhabitants of the gaol or the hospital. The government, however, in 1880 declared Slovenian a customary language, so that provision had to be made in public offices and law courts for dealing with business in Slovenian. It must be remembered, however, that even though the town was German, the rural population of the surrounding villages was chiefly Slovene.
It was in Bohemia and Moravia that the contest was fought out with the greatest vehemence. The two races were nearly equal, and the victory of Czech would mean that nearly two [v.03 p.0033] million Germans would be placed in a position of subordination; but for the last twenty years there had been a constant encroachment by Czech on German. This was partly due to the direct action of the government. An ordinance of 1880 determined that henceforward all business which had been brought before any government office or law court should be dealt with, within the office, in the language in which it was introduced; this applied to the whole of Bohemia and Moravia, and meant that Czech would henceforward have a position within the government service. It was another step in the same direction when, in 1886, it was ordered that "to avoid frequent translations" business introduced in Czech should be dealt with in the same language in the high courts of Prague and Bruenn. Then not only were a large number of Czech elementary schools founded, but also many middle schools were given to the Czechs, and Czech classes introduced in German schools; and, what affected the Germans most, in 1882 classes in Czech were started in the university of Prague—a desecration, as it seemed, of the oldest German university.
The growth of the Slav races was, however, not merely the result of government assistance; it had begun long before Taaffe assumed office; it was to be seen in the census returns and in the results of elections. Prague was no longer the German city it had been fifty years before; the census of 1880 showed 36,000 Germans to 120,000 Czechs. It was the same in Pilsen. In 1861 the Germans had a majority in this town; in 1880 they were not a quarter of the population. This same phenomenon, which occurs elsewhere, cannot be attributed to any laxity of the Germans. The generation which was so vigorously demanding national rights had themselves all been brought up under the old system in German schools, but this had not implanted in them a desire to become German. It was partly due to economic causes—the greater increase among the Czechs, and the greater migration from the country to the towns; partly the result of the romantic and nationalist movement which had arisen about 1830, and partly the result of establishing popular education and parliamentary government at the same time. As soon as these races which had so long been ruled by the Germans received political liberty and the means of education, they naturally used both to reassert their national individuality.
It may be suggested that the resistance to the German language is to some extent a result of the increased national feeling among the Germans themselves. They have made it a matter of principle. In the old days it was common for the children of German parents in Bohemia to learn Czech; since 1867 this has ceased to be the case. It may almost be said that they make it a point of honour not to do so. A result of this is that, as educated Czechs are generally bilingual, it is easier for them to obtain appointments in districts where a knowledge of Czech is required, and the Germans, therefore, regard every order requiring the use of Czech as an order which excludes Germans from a certain number of posts. This attitude of hostility and contempt is strongest among the educated middle class; it is not shown to the same extent by the clergy and the nobles.
The influence of the Church is also favourable to the Slav races, not so much from principle as owing to the fact that they supply more candidates for ordination than the Germans. There is no doubt, however, that the tendency among Germans has been to exalt the principle of nationality above religion, and to give it an absolute authority in which the Roman Catholic Church cannot acquiesce. In this, as in other ways, the Germans in Austria have been much influenced by the course of events in the German empire. This hostility of the Church to the German nationalist movement led in 1898 to an agitation against the Roman Catholic Church, and among the Germans of Styria and other territories large numbers left the Church, going over either to Protestantism or to Old Catholicism. This "Los von Rom" movement, which was caused by the continued alliance of the Clerical party with the Slav parties, is more of the nature of a political demonstration than of a religious movement.
[Sidenote: German hostility.]
The Germans, so long accustomed to rule, now saw their old ascendancy threatened, and they defended it with an energy that increased with each defeat. In 1880 they founded a great society, the Deutscher Schulverein, to establish and assist German schools. It spread over the whole of the empire; in a few years it numbered 100,000 members, and had an income of nearly 300,000 gulden; no private society in Austria had ever attained so great a success. In the Reichsrath a motion was introduced, supported by all the German Liberal parties, demanding that German should be declared the language of state and regulating the conditions under which the other idioms could be recognized; it was referred to a committee from which it never emerged, and a bill to the same effect, introduced in 1886, met a similar fate. In Bohemia they demanded, as a means of protecting themselves against the effect of the language ordinances, that the country should be divided into two parts; in one German was to be the sole language, in the other Czech was to be recognized. A proposal to this effect was introduced by them in the diet at the end of 1886, but since 1882 the Germans had been in a minority. The Czechs, of course, refused even to consider it; it would have cut away the ground on which their whole policy was built up, namely, the indissoluble unity of the Bohemian kingdom, in which German and Czech should throughout be recognized as equal and parallel languages. It was rejected on a motion of Prince Karl Schwarzenberg without discussion, and on this all the Germans rose and left the diet, thereby imitating the action of the Czechs in old days when they had the majority.
[Sidenote: New German parties.]
These events produced a great change on the character of the German opposition. It became more and more avowedly racial; the defence of German nationality was put in the front of their programme. The growing national animosity added bitterness to political life, and destroyed the possibility of a strong homogeneous party on which a government might depend. The beginning of this movement can be traced back to the year 1870. About that time a party of young Germans had arisen who professed to care little for constitutionalism and other "legal mummies," but made the preservation and extension of their own nationality their sole object. As is so often the case in Austria, the movement began in the university of Vienna, where a Leseverein (reading club) of German students was formed as a point of cohesion for Germans, which had eventually to be suppressed. The first representative of the movement in parliament was Herr von Schoenerer, who did not scruple to declare that the Germans looked forward to union with the German empire. They were strongly influenced by men outside Austria. Bismarck was their national hero, the anniversary of Sedan their political festival, and approximation to Germany was dearer to them than the maintenance of Austria. After 1878 a heightening of racial feeling began among the Radicals, and in 1881 all the German parties in opposition joined together in a club called the United Left, and in their programme put in a prominent place the defence of the position of the Germans as the condition for the existence of the state, and demanded that German should be expressly recognized as the official language. The younger and more ardent spirits, however, found it difficult to work in harmony with the older constitutional leaders. They complained that the party leaders were not sufficiently decisive in the measures for self-defence. In 1885 great festivities in honour of Bismarck's eightieth birthday, which had been arranged in Graz, were forbidden by the government, and the Germans of Styria were very indignant that the party did not take up the matter with sufficient energy. After the elections of 1885 the Left, therefore, broke up again into two clubs, the "German Austrian," which included the more moderate, and the "German," which wished to use sharper language. The German Club, e.g., congratulated Bismarck on his measures against the Poles; the German Austrians refused to take cognizance of events outside Austria with which they had nothing to do. Even the German Club was not sufficiently decided for Herr von Schoenerer and his friends, who broke off from it and founded a "National German Union." They spoke much of Germanentum and Unverfaelschtes Deutschtum, and they advocated a political union with the German empire, and were strongly anti-Hungarian and wished to resign all control over Galicia, if by a closer union with Germany they could secure German supremacy in Bohemia and the south Slav countries. They play the same part in Austria as does the "pan-Germanic Union" in Germany. When in 1888 the [v.03 p.0034] two clubs, the German Austrians and the Germans, joined once more under the name of the "United German Left" into a new club with eighty-seven members, so as the better to guard against the common danger and to defeat the educational demands of the Clericals, the National Germans remained apart with seventeen members. They were also infected by the growing spirit of anti-Semitism. The German parties had originally been the party of the capitalists, and comprised a large number of Jews; this new German party committed itself to violent attacks upon the Jews, and for this reason alone any real harmony between the different branches would have been impossible.
[Sidenote: The agreement with Bohemia.]
Notwithstanding the concessions about language the Czechs had, however, made no advance towards their real object—the recognition of the Bohemian kingdom. Perhaps the leaders of the party, who were now growing old, would have been content with the influence they had already attained, but they were hard pressed at home by the Young Czechs, who were more impatient. When Count Thun was appointed governor of Bohemia their hopes ran high, for he was supposed to favour the coronation of the emperor at Prague. In 1890, however, instead of proceeding to the coronation as was expected, Taaffe attempted to bring about a reconciliation between the opposing parties. The influence by which his policy was directed is not quite clear, but the Czechs had been of recent years less easy to deal with, and Taaffe had never really shown any wish to alter the constitution; his policy always was to destroy the influence of parliament by playing off one party against the other, and so to win a clear field for the government. During the month of January conferences were held at Vienna, with Taaffe in the chair, to which were invited representatives of the three groups into which the Bohemian representatives were divided, the German party, the Czechs, and the Feudal party. After a fortnight's discussion an agreement was made on the basis of a separation between the German and the Czech districts, and a revision of the electoral law. A protocol enumerating the points agreed on was signed by all who had taken part in the conference, and in May bills were laid before the diet incorporating the chief points in the agreement. But they were not carried; the chief reason being that the Young Czechs had not been asked to take part in the conference, and did not consider themselves bound by its decisions; they opposed the measures and had recourse to obstruction, and a certain number of the Old Czechs gradually came over to them. Their chief ground of criticizing the proposed measures was that they would threaten the unity of the Bohemian country. At the elections in 1891 a great struggle took place between the Old and the Young Czechs. The latter were completely victorious; Rieger, who had led the party for thirty years, disappeared from the Reichsrath. The first result was that the proposed agreement with Bohemia came to an end. But the disappearance of the Old Czechs made the parliamentary situation very insecure. The Young Czechs could not take their place: their Radical and anti-clerical tendencies alarmed the Feudalists and Clericalists who formed so large a part of the Right; they attacked the alliance with Germany; they made public demonstration of their French sympathies; they entered into communication with other Slav races, especially the Serbs of Hungary and Bosnia; they demanded universal suffrage, and occasionally supported the German Radicals in their opposition to the Clerical parties, especially in educational matters; under their influence disorder increased in Bohemia, a secret society called the Umladina (an imitation of the Servian society of that name) was discovered, and stringent measures had to be taken to preserve order. The government therefore veered round towards the German Liberals; some of the ministers most obnoxious to the Germans resigned, and their places were taken by Germans. For two years the government seemed to waver, looking now to the Left, now to Hohenwart and his friends; for a time Taaffe really had the support of all parties except the Young Czechs.
[Sidenote: Electoral reform.]
After two years he gave up his cautious policy and took a bold move. In October 1893 he introduced a reform bill. Universal suffrage had long been demanded by the working men and the Socialists; the Young Czechs also had put it on their programme, and many of the Christian Socialists and anti-Semites desired an alteration of the franchise. Taaffe's bill, while keeping the curiae of the feudal proprietors and the chambers of commerce as they were, and making no change in the number of members, proposed to give the franchise in both towns and rural districts to every one who could read and write, and had resided six months in one place. This was opposed by the Liberals, for with the growth of socialism and anti-Semitism, they knew that the extension of the franchise would destroy their influence. On this Taaffe had probably calculated, but he had omitted to inquire what the other parties would do. He had not even consulted Hohenwart, to whose assistance he owed his long tenure of power. Not even the pleasure of ruining the Liberals was sufficient to persuade the Conservatives to vote for a measure which would transfer the power from the well-to-do to the indigent, and Hohenwart justly complained that they ought to have been secure against surprises of this kind. The Poles also were against a measure which would give more influence to the Ruthenes. The position of the government was hopeless, and without waiting for a division Taaffe resigned.
[Sidenote: The coalition ministry, 1893.]
The event to which for fourteen years the Left had looked forward had now happened. Once more they could have a share in the government, which they always believed belonged to them by nature. Taught by experience and adversity, they did not scruple to enter into an alliance with their old enemies, and a coalition ministry was formed from the Left, the Clericals and the Poles. The president was Prince Alfred Windisch-Graetz, grandson of the celebrated general, one of Hohenwart's ablest lieutenants; Hohenwart himself did not take office. Of course an administration of this kind could not take a definite line on any controversial question, but during 1894 they carried through the commercial treaty with Russia and the laws for the continuance of the currency reform. The differences of the clubs appeared, however, in the discussions on franchise reform; the government, not strong enough to have a policy of its own, had referred the matter to a committee; for the question having once been raised, it was impossible not to go on with it. This would probably have been fatal to the coalition, but the final blow was given by a matter of very small importance arising from the disputes on nationality. The Slovenes had asked that in the gymnasium at Cilli classes in which instruction was given in Slovenian should be formed parallel to the German classes. This request caused great excitement in Styria and the neighbouring districts; the Styrian diet (from which the Slovene minority had seceded) protested. The Slovenes were, however, members of the Hohenwart Club, so Hohenwart and his followers supported the request, which was adopted by the ministry. The German Left opposed it; they were compelled to do so by the popular indignation in the German districts; and when the vote was carried against them (12th June 1895) they made it a question of confidence, and formally withdrew their support from the government, which therefore at once resigned.
[Sidenote: Badeni's ministry.]
After a short interval the emperor appointed as minister-president Count Badeni, who had earned a great reputation as governer of Galicia. He formed an administration the merit of which, as of so many others, was that it was to belong to no party and to have no programme. He hoped to be able to work in harmony with the moderate elements of the Left; his mission was to carry through the composition (Ausgleich) with Hungary; to this everything else must be subordinated. During 1896 he succeeded in carrying a franchise reform bill, which satisfied nearly all parties. All the old categories of members were maintained, but a fifth curia was added, in which almost any one might vote who had resided six months in one place and was not in domestic service; in this way seventy-two would be added to the existing members. This matter having been [v.03 p.0035] settled, parliament was dissolved. The result of the elections of 1897 was the return of a House so constituted as to make any strong government impossible. On both sides the anti-Semitic parties representing the extreme demagogic elements were present in considerable numbers. The United German Left had almost disappeared; it was represented only by a few members chosen by the great proprietors; in its place there were the three parties—the German Popular party, the German Nationalists, and the German Radicals—who all put questions of nationality first and had deserted the old standpoint of the constitution. Then there were the fourteen Social Democrats who had won their seats under the new franchise. The old party of the Right was, however, also broken up; side by side with forty-one Clericals there were twenty-eight Christian Socialists led by Dr Lueger, a man of great oratorical power, who had won a predominant influence in Vienna, so long the centre of Liberalism, and had quite eclipsed the more modest efforts of Prince Liechtenstein. As among the German National party, there were strong nationalist elements in his programme, but they were chiefly directed against Jews and Hungarians; Lueger had already distinguished himself by his violent attacks on Hungary, which had caused some embarrassment to the government at a time when the negotiations for the Ausgleich were in progress. Like anti-Semites elsewhere, the Christian Socialists were reckless and irresponsible, appealing directly to the passions and prejudices of the most ignorant. There were altogether 200 German members of the Reichsrath, but they were divided into eight parties, and nowhere did there seem to be the elements on which a government could be built up.
The parliamentary situation is best explained by the following table showing the parties:—
German Liberals— 1897. 1901. Constitutional Landed Proprietors 28 28 German Radicals 49 41 German Popular Party 42 51 Schoenerer Group 5 21 Kronawetter 1 .. Democrat 1 .. — 126 — 141 Social Democrats 14 10
German Conservatives— German Clericals 30} 37 German Popular Party 15} Christian Socialists 28 23 — 73 — 60 Federalist Great Proprietors 16 16
Czechs— Young Czechs 60 53 Radical Young Czechs 1 4 Clerical Czechs 1 2 Agrarian Czechs 1 6 — 63 — 65
Poles— Polish Club 59 60 Stoyalovski Group 6 .. Popular Polish Party 3 11 — 68 — 71
Slovenes— Clerical Slovenes 11 .. Radical " 5 .. — 16 — 16
Italians— Liberal Italians 14 .. Clerical " 5 .. — 19 — 19 Croatians 11 9 Serbs 2 2 Ruthenes— Ruthenes 6 .. Young Ruthenes 5 .. — 11 — 11 Rumanians— Rumanians 5 .. Young Rumanians 1 .. — 6 — 5 —- —- Total 425 425
The most remarkable result of the elections was the disappearance of the Liberals in Vienna. In 1879, out of 37 members returned in Lower Austria, 33 were Liberals, but now they were replaced to a large extent by the Socialists. It was impossible to maintain a strong party of moderate constitutionalists, on whom the government could depend, unless there was a large nucleus from Lower Austria. The influence of Lueger was very embarrassing; he had now a majority of two-thirds in the town council, and had been elected burgomaster. The emperor had refused to confirm the election; he had been re-elected, and then the emperor, in a personal interview, appealed to him to withdraw. He consented to do so; but, after the election of 1897 had given him so many followers in the Reichsrath, Badeni advised that his election as burgomaster should be confirmed. There was violent antipathy between the Christian Socialists and the German Nationalists, and the transference of their quarrels from the Viennese Council Chamber to the Reichsrath was very detrimental to the orderly conduct of debate.
The limited suffrage had hitherto prevented socialism from becoming a political force in Austria as it had in Germany, and the national divisions have always impeded the creation of a centralized socialist party. The first object of the working classes necessarily was the attainment of political power; in 1867 there had been mass demonstrations and petitions to the government for universal suffrage. During the next years there was the beginning of a real socialist movement in Vienna and in Styria, where there is a considerable industrial population; after 1879, however, the growth of the party was interrupted by the introduction of anarchical doctrines. Most's paper, the Freiheit, was introduced through Switzerland, and had a large circulation. The anarchists, under the leadership of Peukert, seem to have attained considerable numbers. In 1883-1884 there were a number of serious strikes, collisions between the police and the workmen, followed by assassinations; it was a peculiarity of Austrian anarchists that in some cases they united robbery to murder. The government, which was seriously alarmed, introduced severe repressive measures; the leading anarchists were expelled or fled the country. In 1887, under the leadership of Dr Adler, the socialist party began to revive (the party of violence having died away), and since then it has steadily gained in numbers; in the forefront of the political programme is put the demand for universal suffrage. In no country is the 1st of May, as the festival of Labour, celebrated so generally.
Badeni after the election sent in his resignation, but the emperor refused to accept it, and he had, therefore, to do the best he could and turn for support to the other nationalities. The strongest of them were the fifty-nine Poles and sixty Young Czechs; he therefore attempted, as Taaffe had done, to come to some agreement with them. The Poles were always ready to support the government; among the Young Czechs the more moderate had already attempted to restrain the wilder spirits of the party, and they were quite prepared to enter into negotiations. They did not wish to lose the opportunity which now was open to them of winning influence over the administration. What they required was further concession as to the language in Bohemia. [Sidenote: The language ordinances of 1897.] In May 1897 Badeni, therefore, published his celebrated ordinances. They determined (1) that all correspondence and documents regarding every matter brought before the government officials should be conducted in the language in which it was first introduced. This applied to the whole of Bohemia, and meant the introduction of Czech into the government offices throughout the whole of the kingdom; (2) after 1903 no one was to be appointed to a post under the government in Bohemia until he had passed an examination in Czech. These ordinances fulfilled the worst fears of the Germans. The German Nationalists and Radicals declared that no business should be done till they were repealed and Badeni dismissed. They resorted to obstruction. They brought in repeated motions to impeach the ministers, and parliament had to be prorogued in June, although no business of any kind had been transacted. Badeni had not anticipated the effect his ordinances would have; as a Pole he had little experience in the western part of the empire. During the recess he tried to open negotiations, but [v.03 p.0036] the Germans refused even to enter into a discussion until the ordinances had been withdrawn. The agitation spread throughout the country; great meetings were held at Eger and Aussig, which were attended by Germans from across the frontier, and led to serious disturbances; the cornflower, which had become the symbol of German nationality and union with Germany, was freely worn, and the language used was in many cases treasonable. The emperor insisted that the Reichsrath should again be summoned to pass the necessary measures for the agreement with Hungary; scenes then took place which have no parallel in parliamentary history. To meet the obstruction it was determined to sit at night, but this was unsuccessful. On one occasion Dr Lecher, one of the representatives of Moravia, spoke for twelve hours, from 9 P.M. till 9 A.M., against the Ausgleich. The opposition was not always limited to feats of endurance of this kind. On the 3rd of November there was a free fight in the House; it arose from a quarrel between Dr Lueger and the Christian Socialists on the one side (for the Christian Socialists had supported the government since the confirmation of Lueger as burgomaster) and the German Nationalists under Herr Wolf, a German from Bohemia, the violence of whose language had already caused Badeni to challenge him to a duel. The Nationalists refused to allow Lueger to speak, clapping their desks, hissing and making other noises, till at last the Young Czechs attempted to prevent the disorder by violence. On the 24th of November the scenes of disturbance were renewed. The president, Herr v. Abrahamovitch, an Armenian from Galicia, refused to call on Schoenerer to speak. The Nationalists therefore stormed the platform, and the president and ministers had to fly into their private rooms to escape personal violence, until the Czechs came to their rescue, and by superiority in numbers and physical strength severely punished Herr Wolf and his friends. The rules of the House giving the president no authority for maintaining order, he determined, with the assent of the ministers, to propose alterations in procedure. The next day, when the sitting began, one of the ministers, Count Falkenhayn, a Clerical who was very unpopular, moved "That any member who continued to disturb a sitting after being twice called to order could be suspended—for three days by the president, and for thirty days by the House." The din and uproar was such that not a word could be heard, but at a pre-arranged signal from the president all the Right rose, and he then declared that the new order had been carried, although the procedure of the House required that it should be submitted to a committee. The next day, at the beginning of the sitting, the Socialists rushed on the platform, tore up and destroyed all the papers lying there, seized the president, and held him against the wall. After he had escaped, eighty police were introduced into the House and carried out the fourteen Socialists. The next day Herr Wolf was treated in the same manner. The excitement spread to the street. Serious disorders took place in Vienna and in Graz; the German opposition had the support of the people, and Lueger warned the ministers that as burgomaster he would be unable to maintain order in Vienna; even the Clerical Germans showed signs of deserting the government. [Sidenote: Badeni resigns.] The emperor, hastily summoned to Vienna, accepted Badeni's resignation, the Germans having thus by obstruction attained part of their wishes. The new minister, Gautsch, a man popular with all parties, held office for three months; he proclaimed the budget and the Ausgleich, and in February replaced the language ordinances by others, under which Bohemia was to be divided into three districts—one Czech, one German and one mixed. The Germans, however, were not satisfied with this; they demanded absolute repeal. The Czechs also were offended; they arranged riots at Prague; the professors in the university refused to lecture unless the German students were defended from violence; Gautsch resigned, and Thun, who had been governor of Bohemia, was appointed minister. Martial law was proclaimed in Bohemia, and strictly enforced. Thun then arranged with the Hungarian ministers a compromise about the Ausgleich.
[Sidenote: Renewed conflict between Germans and Czechs.]
The Reichsrath was again summoned, and the meetings were less disturbed than in the former year, but the Germans still prevented any business from being done. The Germans now had a new cause of complaint. Paragraph 14 of the Constitutional law of 1867 provided that, in cases of pressing necessity, orders for which the assent of the Reichsrath was required might, if the Reichsrath were not in session, be proclaimed by the emperor; they had to be signed by the whole ministry, and if they were not laid before the Reichsrath within four months of its meeting, or if they did not receive the approval of both Houses, they ceased to be valid. The Germans contended that the application of this clause to the Ausgleich was invalid, and demanded that it should be repealed. Thun had in consequence to retire, in September 1899. His successor, Count Clary, began by withdrawing the ordinances which had been the cause of so much trouble, but it was now too late to restore peace. The Germans were not sufficiently strong and united to keep in power a minister who had brought them the relief for which they had been clamouring for two years. The Czechs, of course, went into opposition, and used obstruction. The extreme German party, however, took the occasion to demand that paragraph 14 should be repealed. Clary explained that this was impossible, but he gave a formal pledge that he would not use it. The Czechs, however, prevented him passing a law on excise which was a necessary part of the agreements with Hungary; it was, therefore, impossible for him to carry on the government without breaking his word; there was nothing left for him to do but to resign, after holding office for less than three months. The emperor then appointed a ministry of officials, who were not bound by his pledge, and used paragraph 14 for the necessary purposes of state. They then made way for a ministry under Herr v. Koerber. During the early months of 1900 matters were more peaceful, and Koerber hoped to be able to arrange a compromise; but the Czechs now demanded the restoration of their language in the internal service of Bohemia, and on 8th June, by noise and disturbance, obliged the president to suspend the sitting. The Reichsrath was immediately dissolved, the emperor having determined to make a final attempt to get together a parliament with which it would be possible to govern. The new elections on which so much was to depend did not take place till January 1901. They resulted in a great increase of the extreme German Nationalist parties. Schoenerer and the German Radicals—the fanatical German party who in their new programme advocated union of German Austria with the German empire—now numbered twenty-one, who chiefly came from Bohemia. They were able for the first time to procure the election of one of their party in the Austrian Delegation, and threatened to introduce into the Assembly scenes of disorder similar to those which they had made common in the Reichsrath. All those parties which did not primarily appeal to national feeling suffered loss; especially was this the case with the two sections of the Clericals, the Christian Socialists and the Ultramontanes; and the increasing enmity between the German Nationalists (who refused even the name German to a Roman Catholic) and the Church became one of the most conspicuous features in the political situation. The loss of seats by the Socialists showed that even among the working men the national agitation was gaining ground; the diminished influence of the anti-Semites was the most encouraging sign.
Notwithstanding the result of the elections, the first months of the new parliament passed in comparative peace. There was a truce between the nationalities. The Germans were more occupied with their opposition to the Clericals than with their feud with the Slavs. The Czechs refrained from obstruction, for they did not wish to forfeit the alliance with the Poles and Conservatives, on which their parliamentary strength depended, and the Germans used the opportunity to pass measures for promoting the material prosperity of the country, especially for an important system of canals which would bring additional prosperity to the coal-fields and manufactures of Bohemia.
(J. W. HE.)
[Sidenote: Public works policy.]
The history of Austria since the general election of 1901 is the [v.03 p.0037] history of franchise reform as a crowning attempt to restore parliament to normal working conditions. The premier, Dr von Koerber, who had undertaken to overcome obstruction and who hoped to effect a compromise between Germans and Czechs, induced the Chamber to sanction the estimates, the contingent of recruits and other "necessities of state" for 1901 and 1902, by promising to undertake large public works in which Czechs and Germans were alike interested. These public works were chiefly a canal from the Danube to the Oder; a ship canal from the Danube to the Moldau near Budweis, and the canalization of the Moldau from Budweis to Prague; a ship canal running from the projected Danube-Oder canal near Prerau to the Elbe near Pardubitz, and the canalization of the Elbe from Pardubitz to Melnik; a navigable connexion between the Danube-Oder Canal and the Vistula and the Dniester. It was estimated that the construction of these four canals would require twenty years, the funds being furnished by a 4% loan amortizable in ninety years. In addition to the canals, the cabinet proposed and the Chamber sanctioned the construction of a "second railway route to Trieste" designed to shorten the distance between South Germany, Salzburg and the Adriatic, by means of a line passing under the Alpine ranges of central and southern Austria. The principal sections of this line were named after the ranges they pierced, the chief tunnels being bored through the Tauern, Karawanken and Wochein hills. Sections were to be thrown open to traffic as soon as completed and the whole work to be ended during 1909. The line forms one of the most interesting railway routes in Europe. The cost, however, greatly exceeded the estimate sanctioned by parliament; and the contention that the parliamentary adoption of the Budget in 1901-1902 cost the state L100,000,000 for public works, is not entirely unfounded. True, these works were in most cases desirable and in some cases necessary, but they were hastily promised and often hastily begun under pressure of political expediency. The Koerber administration was for this reason subsequently exposed to severe censure.
[Sidenote: Koerber's parliamentary difficulties.]
Despite these public works Dr von Koerber found himself unable to induce parliament to vote the Budgets for 1903, 1904 or 1905, and was obliged to revert to the expedient employed by his predecessors of sanctioning the estimates by imperial ordinance under paragraph 14 of the constitution. His attempts in December 1902 and January 1903 to promote a compromise between Czechs and Germans proved equally futile. Koerber proposed that Bohemia be divided into 10 districts, of which 5 would be Czech, 3 German and 2 mixed. Of the 234 district tribunals, 133 were to be Czech, 94 German and 7 mixed. The Czechs demanded on the contrary that both their language and German should be placed on an equal footing throughout Bohemia, and be used for all official purposes in the same way. As this demand involved the recognition of Czech as a language of internal service in Bohemia it was refused by the Germans. Thenceforward, until his fall on the 31st of December 1904, Koerber governed practically without parliament. The Chamber was summoned at intervals rather as a pretext for the subsequent employment of paragraph 14 than in the hope of securing its assent to legislative measures. The Czechs blocked business by a pile of "urgency motions" and occasionally indulged in noisy obstruction. On one occasion a sitting lasted 57 hours without interruption. In consequence of Czech aggressiveness, the German parties (the German Progressists, the German Populists, the Constitutional Landed Proprietors and the Christian Socialists) created a joint executive committee and a supreme committee of four members to watch over German racial interests.
[Sidenote: Baron Gautsch premier.]
By the end of 1904 it had become clear that the system of government by paragraph 14, which Dr von Koerber had perfected was not effective in the long run. Loans were needed for military and other purposes, and paragraph 14 itself declares that it cannot be employed for the contraction of any lasting burden upon the exchequer, nor for any sale of state patrimony. As the person of the premier had become so obnoxious to the Czechs that his removal would be regarded by them as a concession, his resignation was suddenly accepted by the emperor, and, on the 1st of January 1905, a former premier, Baron von Gautsch, was appointed in his stead. Parliamentary activity was at once resumed; the Austro-Hungarian tariff contained in the Szell-Koerber compact was adopted, the estimates were discussed and the commercial treaty with Germany ratified. In the early autumn, however, a radical change came over the spirit of Austrian politics. For nearly three years Austria had been watching with bitterness and depression the course of the crisis in Hungary. Parliament had repeatedly expressed its disapproval of the Magyar demands upon the crown, but had succeeded only in demonstrating its own impotence. The feeling that Austria could be compelled by imperial ordinance under paragraph 14 to acquiesce in whatever concessions the crown might make to Hungary galled Austrian public opinion and prepared it for coming changes. In August 1905 the crown took into consideration and in September sanctioned the proposal that universal suffrage be introduced into the official programme of the Fejervary cabinet then engaged in combating the Coalition in Hungary. It is not to be supposed that the king of Hungary assented to this programme without reflecting that what he sought to further in Hungary, it would be impossible for him, as emperor of Austria, to oppose in Cisleithania. His subsequent action justifies, indeed, the belief that, when sanctioning the Fejervary programme, the monarch had already decided that universal suffrage should be introduced in Austria; but even he can scarcely have been prepared for the rapidity with which the movement in Austria gained ground and accomplished its object.
[Sidenote: Franchise reform.]
On the 15th of September 1905 a huge socialist and working-class demonstration in favour of universal suffrage took place before the parliament at Budapest. The Austrian Socialist party, encouraged by this manifestation and influenced by the revolutionary movement in Russia, resolved to press for franchise reform in Austria also. An initial demonstration, resulting in some bloodshed, was organized in Vienna at the beginning of November. At Prague, Graz and other towns, demonstrations and collisions with the police were frequent. The premier, Baron Gautsch, who had previously discountenanced universal suffrage while admitting the desirability of a restricted reform, then changed attitude and permitted an enormous Socialist demonstration, in support of universal suffrage, to take place (November 28) in the Vienna Ringstrasse. Traffic was suspended for five hours while an orderly procession of workmen, ten abreast, marched silently along the Ringstrasse past the houses of parliament. The demonstration made a deep impression upon public opinion. On the same day the premier promised to introduce by February a large measure of franchise reform so framed as to protect racial minorities from being overwhelmed at the polls by majorities of other races. On the 23rd of February 1906 he indeed brought in a series of franchise reform measures. Their main principles were the abolition of the curia or electoral class system and the establishment of the franchise on the basis of universal suffrage; and the division of Austria electorally into racial compartments within which each race would be assured against molestation from other races. The Gautsch redistribution bill proposed to increase the number of constituencies from 425 to 455, to allot a fixed number of constituencies to each province and, within each province, to each race according to its numbers and tax-paying capacity. The reform bill proper proposed to enfranchise every male citizen above 24 years of age with one year's residential qualification.
At first the chances of the adoption of such a measure seemed small. It was warmly supported from outside by the Social Democrats, who held only 11 seats in the House; inside, the Christian Socialists or Lueger party were favourable on the whole as they hoped to gain seats at the expense of the German Progressives and German Populists and to extend their own organization throughout the empire. The Young Czechs, too, were favourable, while the Poles reserved their attitude. Hostile [v.03 p.0038] in principle and by instinct, they waited to ascertain the mind of the emperor, before actively opposing the reform. With the exception of the German Populists who felt that a German "Liberal" party could not well oppose an extension of popular rights, all the German Liberals were antagonistic, some bitterly, to the measure. The Constitutional Landed Proprietors who had played so large a part in Austrian politics since the 'sixties, and had for a generation held the leadership of the German element in parliament and in the country, saw themselves doomed and the leadership of the Germans given to the Christian Socialists. None of the representatives of the curia system fought so tenaciously for their privileges as did the German nominees of the curia of large landed proprietors. Their opposition proved unavailing. The emperor frowned repeatedly upon their efforts.
[Sidenote: Baron Beck premier.]
Baron Gautsch fell in April over a difference with the Poles, and his successor, Prince Konrad zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfuerst, who had taken over the reform bills, resigned also, six weeks later, as a protest against the action of the crown in consenting to the enactment of a customs tariff in Hungary distinct from, though identical with, the joint Austro-Hungarian tariff comprised in the Szell-Koerber compact and enacted as a joint tariff by the Reichsrath. A new cabinet was formed (June 2) by Baron von Beck, permanent under secretary of state in the ministry for agriculture, an official of considerable ability who had first acquired prominence as an instructor of the heir apparent, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, in constitutional and administrative law. By dint of skilful negotiation with the various parties and races, and steadily supported by the emperor who, on one occasion, summoned the recalcitrant party leaders to the Hofburg ad audiendum verbum and told them the reform "must be accomplished," Baron Beck succeeded, in October 1906, in attaining a final agreement, and on the 1st of December in securing the adoption of the reform. During the negotiations the number of constituencies was raised to 516, divided, according to provinces, as follows:—
Bohemia . . . . . . . . 130 previously 110 Galicia . . . . . . . . 106 " 78 Lower Austria . . . . . . . 64 " 46 Moravia . . . . . . . . 49 " 43 Styria. . . . . . . . . 30 " 27 Tirol . . . . . . . . . 25 " 21 Upper Austria . . . . . . . 22 " 20 Austrian Silesia . . . . . . 15 " 12 Bukovina . . . . . . . . 14 " 11 Carniola . . . . . . . . 12 " 11 Dalmatia . . . . . . . . 11 " 11 Carinthia . . . . . . . . 10 " 10 Salzburg . . . . . . . . 7 " 7 Istria. . . . . . . . . 6 " 5 Goerz and Gradisca. . . . . . 6 " 5 Trieste and territory . . . . . 5 " 5 Vorarlberg. . . . . . . . 4 " 4
In the allotment of the constituencies to the various races their tax-paying capacity was taken into consideration. In mixed districts separate constituencies and registers were established for the electors of each race, who could only vote on their own register for a candidate of their own race. Thus Germans were obliged to vote for Germans and Czechs for Czechs; and, though there might be victories of Clerical over Liberal Germans or of Czech Radicals over Young Czechs, there could be no victories of Czechs over Germans, Poles over Ruthenes, or Slovenes over Italians. The constituencies were divided according to race as follows:—
Germans of all parties. . . . . 233 previously 205 Czechs of all parties . . . . . 108 " 81 Poles . . . . . . . . . 80 " 71 Southern Slavs (Slovenes, Croats, Serbs) . . . . . . . . 37 " 27 Ruthenes . . . . . . . . 34 " 11 Italians . . . . . . . . 19 " 18 Rumanians . . . . . . . . 5 " 5
These allotments were slightly modified at the polls by the victory of some Social Democratic candidates not susceptible of strict racial classification. The chief feature of the allotment was, however, the formal overthrow of the fiction that Austria is preponderatingly a German country and not a country preponderatingly Slav with a German dynasty and a German facade. The German constituencies, though allotted in a proportion unduly favourable, left the Germans, with 233 seats, in a permanent minority as compared with the 259 Slav seats. Even with the addition of the "Latin" (Rumanian and Italian) seats the "German-Latin block" amounted only to 257. This "block" no longer exists in practice, as the Italians now tend to co-operate rather with the Slavs than with the Germans. The greatest gainers by the redistribution were the Ruthenes, whose representation was trebled, though it is still far from being proportioned to their numbers. This and other anomalies will doubtless be corrected in future revisions of the allotment, although the German parties, foreseeing that any revision must work out to their disadvantage, stipulated that a two-thirds majority should be necessary for any alteration of the law.