HotFreeBooks.com
The Governments of Europe
by Frederic Austin Ogg
Previous Part     1 ... 5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

In the spring of the year mentioned the lower house rejected an (p. 530) important measure relating to higher education upon whose enactment the Kuyper ministry was determined. The Chamber was dissolved and in June elections were held. Prior to the elections the Chamber contained 58 Ministerialists and 42 anti-Ministerialists (Liberals and Socialists). The opposition elements were far from united. The Socialists insisted upon an immediate amendment of the constitution to provide for universal suffrage; the Progressive Liberals favored only the eventual adoption of such an amendment; the Moderate Liberals were opposed to it altogether. None the less, the result of the elections was to terminate the Conservative majority and to replace it by a slender but indubitable Liberal majority of four. The Conservatives carried 48 seats; the Liberals 45; and the Socialists 7. The Kuyper ministry forthwith resigned.

*583. The Political Situation Since 1909.*—The period from June, 1905, to December, 1907, was covered by the two successive Liberal ministries of Borgesius and De Meester. Each was essentially colorless. Efforts to bring about an extension of the suffrage failed, and during 1907 the Liberal majority virtually disappeared. The upshot was that, February 8, 1908, there was created a new ministry, under Dr. Heemskerk, whose members were drawn from the Conservatives. At the general election of June 11, 1909, the Conservatives recovered supremacy completely. Following the grouping which prevails at the present day, the results of this election were as follows: (1) Anti-Revolutionaries (largely rural Calvinists), 23 members; (2) Historic Christians, 12; (3) Roman Catholics, 25—a total Conservative quota of 60; (4) Free Liberals, 4; Union Liberals, 21; Liberal Democrats, 8; Socialists, 7—a total Liberal contingent of 40. Furthermore, while the Conservatives were compactly organized, the Liberals were divided hopelessly among themselves and quite unable to offer substantial resistance to their opponents. With a majority of 20 in the lower chamber and of 19 in the upper, with a popular vote in excess by 80,000 of that of the Liberals, and with a ministry in office which, if not brilliant, was at least popular, the Conservatives came off from the campaign in a position to maintain through an extended period, so far as may be foreseen, their control of public affairs. Quite the contrary of the contemporary situation in Belgium, the rifts which separate the various Liberal groups tend in Holland to deepen, and the political impotence of Liberalism consequently to be accentuated.[740]

[Footnote 740: On Dutch political parties see P. Verschave, La Hollande politique; le role des catholiques neerlandais depuis dix ans, in Le Correspondant, April 10, 1908; Les elections generales et la situation politique aux pays-bas: l'organisation de la campagne electorale, ibid., Nov. 25, 1909; and La Hollande politique; un parti catholique en pays protestant (Paris, 1910).]

IV. THE JUDICIARY AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (p. 531)

*584. Judicial Principles.*—The constitution guarantees various fundamental personal rights, including those of petition, assembly, free speech, and equality before the law in all matters pertaining to the protection of person and property. It likewise undertakes to guarantee the individual against partiality and arbitrariness in the administration of justice. Except in unusual cases, prescribed by law, no one may be taken into custody except upon a warrant issued by a judge, stating specifically the reason for arrest. No one may be removed against his will from the jurisdiction of the tribunal in which he has a right to be tried. General confiscation of the property of a person adjudged guilty may not be imposed as a penalty for any offense. Save in exceptional cases, specified by law, or when in the opinion of the judge public order and morals forbid, the sessions of all courts are required to be public. Judgments must be pronounced in public session. They must be accompanied by a statement of the considerations upon which they are based, and, in criminal cases, by a citation of the specific provisions of law upon which the sentence is founded.[741]

[Footnote 741: Arts. 149-161. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, II., 110-112.]

*585. The Courts.*—Justice is administered throughout the kingdom in the name of the crown, and all judicial officers are appointed by the crown. Within the constitution provision is made only for a supreme tribunal known as the High Court (Hooge Raad) of the Netherlands, sitting at The Hague. Minor courts exist by virtue of ordinary law. The judges of the High Court, five in number, are appointed by the crown from lists prepared by the lower house of the States-General. The junctions of the High Court are of large importance. On appeal from inferior tribunals it may annul any judicial proceeding, decree, or judgment held by it to be unwarranted by law. It is charged with the duty of seeing that suits are properly tried and decided, and that judicial officials comply with the laws. Inferior judges are appointed normally for life, but under conditions prescribed by law they may be dismissed or relieved of their duties by decision of the High Court. Finally, the High Court constitutes a tribunal before which, upon charges brought by either the sovereign or the lower chamber, members of the States-General, heads of the ministerial departments, governors-general, members of the Council of State, and commissioners of the crown in the provinces, may be prosecuted upon charge of offenses committed in office. Such prosecution may be instituted (p. 532) either during an official's tenure of office or after his retirement.[742]

[Footnote 742: Arts. 162-166. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, II., 112-113.]

Of inferior tribunals there are three grades. At the bottom are the cantonal courts, 106 in number, consisting each of a single judge and taking cognizance of claims under 200 guilders, breaches of police regulations, and other cases of a minor nature. Next are the district courts, 23 in number, each consisting of three judges and exercising within the arrondissement jurisdiction in matters of more weight. Still above the district tribunals are five courts of appeal, each comprising a body of three judges. Trial by jury is unknown in Holland.

*586. Local Government: the Province.*—The constitution of the Netherlands is somewhat peculiar in that it prescribes at length not merely the form and character of the national government, but also the arrangements that shall prevail respecting the governments of the provinces and the communes throughout the kingdom. Of provinces there are eleven; of communes, 1,123. The importance of the province is enhanced by the fact that the nation has sprung from a pure confederation, the original autonomy of the federated provinces having never been wholly obliterated under the present centralized regime. Each province has its own representative body, or "provincial estates," a unicameral assembly whose members are chosen directly for six years by all inhabitants of the province who are entitled to vote for members of the lower house of the States-General. Half of the members retire every three years. The number of members varies, according to the population of the province, from eighty in South Holland to thirty-five in Drenthe. The assembly meets at least twice a year. Its powers are extensive, although it can perform no legislative act without the assent of the crown. It enacts ordinances, levies taxes, prepares and submits to the sovereign an annual budget, controls in certain respects the municipalities, and elects those members of the upper branch of the States-General to which the individual province is entitled.

For the exercise of executive authority within the province there are two agencies. The provincial assembly appoints from its own members a committee of six, known as the "deputed states," to which, in accordance with conditions fixed by law, the daily administration of affairs is intrusted. Furthermore the sovereign appoints and establishes in each province a commissioner who is charged with the execution of royal orders and with a general supervision of the acts of the local authorities. This royal commissioner presides over the deliberations of both the provincial estates and the committee of six, possessing in the committee the power also of voting. He is (p. 533) distinctly the chief magistrate of the province, and at the same time the effective tie between the central and the provincial governments.[743]

[Footnote 743: Arts. 127-141. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, II., 105-108.]

*587. Local Government: the Commune.*—In all essential respects the government of the Dutch communes is prescribed by the national constitution, with the result that that government is characterized by uniformity no less thoroughgoing than is the communal government of France. Within each commune is a council of from seven to forty-five members elected directly by the people of the commune for a term of six years under franchise arrangements identical with those obtaining in the election of members of the provincial estates, save that no one, although otherwise qualified to vote for communal councillors, may exercise the privilege unless he contributes a minimum amount yearly to the communal rates. One-third of the members of the council retire every two years. The council meets publicly as frequently as business requires. It enacts by-laws, levies taxes, supervises education, and represents the interests of the commune, if occasion arises, before the sovereign, the States-General, and the provincial estates. All of its legislative acts are liable to veto by the crown, and the municipal budget requires regularly the approval of the committee of the provincial estates. Executive authority within the commune is vested in a burgomaster, or mayor, appointed by the sovereign for a term of six years, and a board of two to six wethouders, or aldermen, elected by and from the council. The burgomaster presides in the council and, as a representative of the royal authority, may suspend for a period of thirty days any measure enacted.[744]

[Footnote 744: Arts. 142-148. Ibid., II., 108-110.]



CHAPTER XXIX (p. 534)

THE GOVERNMENT OF BELGIUM

I. THE CONSTITUTION—THE CROWN AND THE MINISTRY

*588. The Constitution: Liberalism and Stability.*—The constitution of the kingdom of Belgium was framed, consequent upon the declaration of Belgian independence October 4, 1830, by a national congress of two hundred elected delegates. It was promulgated February 7, 1831, and July 21 of the same year the first independent Belgian sovereign, Leopold I., took oath to observe and maintain it. Circumstances conspired to give the instrument a pronouncedly liberal character. Devised in the midst of a revolution brought on principally by the autocratic rule of King William I., it is, and was intended to be, uncommonly explicit in its definition of the royal prerogative. There were Belgians in 1831, indeed, who advocated the establishment of a republic. Against such a course various considerations were urged, and with effect; but the monarchy which was set up, owing clearly its existence to popular suffrage, is of the strictly limited, constitutional type. "All powers," it is asserted in the fundamental law, "emanate from the people."[745] The principles of liberalism are the more in evidence by reason of the fact that the framers of the constitution deliberately accepted as models the French instruments of 1791 and 1830 and were likewise influenced profoundly by their admiration for the constitutional system of Great Britain.

[Footnote 745: Art. 25. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 130.]

A striking testimony to the thoroughness with which the work was done, and to the advanced character of the governmental system established, is the fact that the text of the Belgian fundamental law endured through more than half a century absolutely unchanged, and, further, that when in our own generation the task of amendment was undertaken not even the most ardent revisionists cared to insist upon more than the overhauling of the arrangements respecting the franchise. Leopold I.(1831-1865), and Leopold II. after him (1865-1909), frankly recognized the conditional basis of the royal tenure and, although conspicuously active in the management of public affairs, afforded (p. 535) by their conduct slight occasion for popular criticism or disaffection. Even the revolutionary year 1848 passed without producing in Belgium more than a mere ripple of unrest. In 1893 the constitution was amended to provide for universal male suffrage, and in 1899 a further amendment instituted a system of proportional representation. Otherwise, the instrument stands to-day virtually as it was put into operation in 1831. It need hardly be remarked that, in Belgium as elsewhere, the written constitution does not by any means contain the whole of the actually operative political system. Numerous aspects of parliamentarism, and of other well-established governmental forms and practices, depend for their sanction upon the conventions, rather than upon the law, of the constitution; but they are none the less real and enduring.

*589. Content and Amendment.*—The written constitution of Belgium, like that of Holland, is comprehensive in scope. It comprises an extended bill of rights; a detailed definition of the framework of the national executive, legislative, and judicial departments; special provisions relating to finance and the army; and an enumeration of the principles underlying the provincial and communal administration. It contains a total of 139 articles, of which eight, being temporary in character, are inoperative. The process of amendment is identical with that which prevails in Holland. Upon declaration by the legislative chambers to the effect that a specified amendment is desirable, the chambers are ipso facto dissolved. If the chambers thereupon elected approve the proposition by a two-thirds vote, and the sovereign accords it his sanction, it is declared adopted.[746]

[Footnote 746: Art. 131. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 146. The text of the constitution of Belgium, in English translation, is printed in Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 126-148, and in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, May, 1896, Supplement (translation by J. M. Vincent). French texts of the constitution and of important laws will be found in F. Larcier, Code politique et administratif de la Belgique (2d ed., Brussels, 1893). The standard commentary is J. J. Thonissen, La constitution belge (3d ed., Brussels, 1879). Works of value relating to the amendments of 1893-1894 are C. Thiebault et A. Henry, Commentaire legislatif des articles revises de la constitution belge (Brussels, 1894), and Beltjens, La constitution belge revisee (Liege, 1895). The best treatises on the Belgian constitutional system are P. Errera, Das Staatsrecht des Koenigreichs Belgien (Tuebingen, 1909), and Traite de droit public belge: droit constitutionnel, droit administratif (Paris, 1908), and O. Orban, Le droit constitutionnel de la Belgique, 3 vols. (Liege, 1906-1911). An older but excellent work is A. Giron, La droit public de la Belgique (Brussels, 1884). A convenient elementary book on the subject is F. Masson et C. Wiliquet, Manuel de droit constitutionnel (7th ed., Brussels, 1904). A useful volume is E. Flandin, Institutions politiques de l'Europe contemporaine (2d ed., Paris, 1907), I.]

*590. The Crown.*—Kingship in Belgium is hereditary in the (p. 536) direct male line in the order of primogeniture. In default of male descendants, the king, with the consent of the legislative chambers, may name his successor.[747] A king or heir to the throne attains his majority at the age of eighteen. In the event of a minority, or of the incapacity of the sovereign, the two houses are required to meet in a single assembly for the purpose of making provision for a regency. The powers of regent may not be conferred upon two or more persons jointly, and during the continuance of a regency no changes may be made in the constitution.[748] If by chance the throne should fall wholly vacant, the choice of a sovereign would devolve upon the legislative chambers, specially re-elected for the purpose, and deliberating in joint session. The civil list of the crown is fixed at the beginning of a reign. That of Leopold II., as established by law of December 25, 1865, was 3,300,000 francs, and that of the present sovereign, Albert I., is the same.

[Footnote 747: This privilege was conferred by an amendment (Art. 61) adopted September 7, 1893.]

[Footnote 748: Arts. 60, 79-85. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 136, 138-139.]

*591. The Ministers and the Parliamentary System.*—The Council of Ministers consists of ten heads of executive departments. These, together with a variable number of ministers without portfolio, comprise the Council of State, an advisory body convened by the crown as occasion requires. All ministers are appointed, directly or indirectly, and all may be dismissed, by the king. All must be Belgian citizens, and no member of the royal family may be tendered an appointment. Ministers are all but invariably members of one or the other of the legislative houses, principally of the House of Representatives.[749] Whether members or not, they are privileged to attend all sessions and to be heard at their own request. The houses, indeed, possess the right to demand their attendance. But no minister may vote, save in a house of which he is a member.[750]

[Footnote 749: The minister of war, regularly an active military official, has been usually not a legislative member. Aside from this one post, however, the custom of selecting ministers exclusively from the chambers has been followed almost as rigorously in Belgium as in Great Britain. And so largely are the ministers taken from the lower house that the Senate not infrequently has no representative at all in the cabinet.]

[Footnote 750: Arts. 86-91. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 139-140.]

Belgium is one of the few continental states in which the parliamentary system is thoroughly operative. At no point is the constitution more explicit than in its stipulation of the responsibility of ministers. Not only is it declared that the king's ministers are responsible; it is stipulated that "no decree of the king shall take effect unless it is countersigned by a minister, who, by that act alone, renders himself responsible for it"; also that "in no case shall the verbal or (p. 537) written order of the king relieve a minister of responsibility."[751] The House of Representatives is vested with the right to accuse ministers and to arraign them before the Court of Cassation; and the king may not pardon a minister who has been sentenced by this tribunal, save upon request of one of the two legislative chambers. A ministry which finds that it cannot command the support of a majority in the House of Representatives has the right to determine upon the dissolution of either of the houses, or of both. If after a general election there is still lack of harmony, the ministry, as would be the procedure in a similar situation in Great Britain, retires from office, the sovereign calls upon an opposition party leader to assume the premiership and to form a cabinet, and the remainder of the ministers are selected from the dominant parties by this official, in consultation with the king. By reason of the multiplicity of party groups in Belgium, the king is apt to be allowed somewhat wider latitude in the choice of a premier than is possible in Great Britain.[752]

[Footnote 751: Arts. 63-64, 89. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 137, 140.]

[Footnote 752: Dupriez, Les Ministres, I., 210-230; O. Kerchove de Denterghem, De la responsabilite des ministres dans le droit public belge (Paris, 1867).]

*592. The Exercise of Executive Powers.*—The powers of the executive, exercised nominally by the king, but actually by the ministry, are closely defined in the constitution; and there is the stipulation, unusual in European constitutions, that the king shall possess no powers other than those which the constitution, and the special laws enacted under the constitution, confer explicitly upon him.[753] Under the conditions that have been explained, the king appoints all officials who are attached to the general administrative and foreign services, but other officials only in so far as is expressly authorized by law. He commands the forces by land and sea, declares war, and concludes peace. He negotiates treaties, with the limitation that treaties of commerce and treaties which impose a burden upon the state, or place under obligation individual Belgian citizens, take effect only after receiving the approval of the two houses; and with the further condition that no cession, exchange, or acquisition of territory may be carried through save by warrant of a law. The king promulgates all legislative measures, and he is authorized to issue all regulations and decrees necessary for the execution of the laws. In theory he possesses the power of the veto, but in the Belgian, as in parliamentary governments generally, there is no occasion for the actual exercise of this power. The king convokes, prorogues, and dissolves the chambers; though the provisions of the constitution (p. 538) relating to the legislative sessions are so explicit that the crown is left small discretion in the matter. The king, finally, is authorized to remit or to reduce the penalties imposed by the tribunals of justice, to coin money, to confer titles of nobility (which must be purely honorary), and to bestow military orders in accordance with provisions of law.[754]

[Footnote 753: Art. 78. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 138.]

[Footnote 754: Arts. 66-67. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 137-138.]

II. THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT—THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM

*593. The Senate.*—The Belgian parliament consists of two houses, both elective and both representative of the nation as a whole. The upper house, or Senate, is composed of 112 members, chosen for a term of eight years. With respect to the method of their election, the members fall into two categories. Under constitutional provision, as amended by law of September 7, 1893, a number of senators equal to one-half the number of members of the House of Representatives is elected directly by the voters, in proportion to the population of the several provinces. The electorate which returns these senators is identical with that which returns the deputies, and by law of December 29, 1899, the principle of proportional representation, as applied in elections of the lower chamber, is applied to senatorial elections within each province. A second group of members consists of those elected by the provincial councils, to the number of two for each province having fewer than 500,000 inhabitants, of three for each province having from 500,000 to 1,000,000 inhabitants, and of four for each province having more than 1,000,000 inhabitants. The proportion of senators elected directly by the people is approximately three-fourths, being at present 76 to 26. Prior to the amendment of 1893 all members of the Senate were chosen by the same electorate which chose the members of the lower chamber. Inasmuch as only payers of direct taxes to the amount of 2,000 francs a year were eligible as senators, the upper house represented almost exclusively the interests of wealth. By vesting in the provincial councils the choice of a portion of the senators, who should be eligible regardless of taxpaying qualifications, it was hoped to impart to the Senate a more broadly representative character. At the same time the tax qualification for popularly elected members was reduced by a third. It may be noted that there is a possibility of a small non-elective element in the Senate. According to the terms of the constitution, the sons of the king, or if there be none, the Belgian princes of the branch of the royal family designated to succeed to the throne, shall be by right senators at the age of eighteen, though without deliberative vote until the (p. 539) age of twenty-five.[755] Prior to his accession to the throne, in 1909, the present sovereign Albert I., nephew and heir-presumptive of Leopold II., was entitled to a senatorial seat. There is at present no representative of royalty who is eligible.

[Footnote 755: Art. 58. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 135.]

All elective senators must be Belgian citizens and Belgian residents, at least forty years of age, and in the unrestricted enjoyment of civil and political rights. Senators elected by the provincial councils are subject to no property qualifications,[756] but those elected directly by the people must be drawn from either payers of as much as 1,200 francs of direct national taxes or proprietors or lessees of Belgian real estate of an assessed income of at least 12,000 francs. In provinces, however, where the number of eligible persons falls short of the proportion of one for every 5,000 inhabitants, the list is completed by the addition of such a number of the heaviest taxpayers of the province as may be necessary to establish this proportion.[757] Save passes on the national railways, senators receive no salary or other emolument.

[Footnote 756: They may not be, and may not have been within two years preceding their election, members of the assembly which returns them.]

[Footnote 757: Art. 56. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 135.]

*594. The House of Representatives: Earlier Electoral Arrangements.*—The lower legislative chamber consists of deputies elected directly by the voters of the kingdom. The number of seats is determined by law, under the general provision that it may not exceed the proportion of one for 40,000 inhabitants. Prior to 1899 it was 152; to-day it is 186. The term is four years. Half of the membership retires every two years, though in the event of a dissolution the house is entirely renewed.[758] The qualifications which the constitution requires of deputies are those of citizenship, residence in Belgium, attainment of the age of twenty-five, and possession of civil and political rights. Deputies receive an honorarium of 4,000 francs a year, together with free transportation upon all State and concessionary railways between the places of their respective residences and Brussels, or any other city in which a session may be held.

[Footnote 758: This is true also of the Senate.]

The Belgian electoral system at the present day is noteworthy by reason of three facts: (1) it is based upon the principle of universal manhood suffrage; (2) it embraces a scheme of plural voting; and (3) it provides for the proportional representation of parties. Under the original constitution of 1831 the franchise, while not illiberal for the time, was restricted by property qualifications of a somewhat sweeping character. Deputies were elected by those citizens only who paid yearly a direct tax varying in amount, but in no instance of less than twenty florins. In 1848 there was enacted a series of (p. 540) electoral laws whereby the property qualification was reduced to a uniform level of twenty florins and the number of voters was virtually doubled. With this arrangement the Liberals were by no means satisfied, and agitation in behalf of a broader electorate was steadily maintained. As early as 1865 the Liberal demands were actively re-enforced by those of organizations of workingmen, and in 1870 the Catholic ministry found itself obliged to sanction a considerable extension of the franchise in elections within the provinces and the communes. After 1880 the brunt of the electoral propaganda was borne by the Socialists, and the campaign for constitutional revision was directed almost solely against the 47th article of the fundamental law, in which was contained the original stipulation respecting the franchise. Since 1830 the population of Belgium had all but doubled, and there had been in the country an enormous increase of popular intelligence and of economic prosperity. That in a population of 6,000,000 (in 1890) there should be an electorate of but 135,000 was a sufficiently obvious anomaly. The broadly democratic system by which members of the French Chamber of Deputies and of the German Reichstag were elected was proclaimed by the revisionists to be the ideal which it was hoped to realize in Belgium.

*595. The Electoral Reform Act of 1893.*—In 1890 the Catholic ministry, recognizing in part the justice of the demand, and preferring, if there were to be revision, to carry it through, rather than to incur the risk of having it carried through by a radical cabinet, yielded to the pressure and consented to the formal consideration of the electoral question upon the floors of the two chambers. Three years of intermittent, but animated, discussion ensued. At length, in May, 1892, the chambers were able to agree upon the primary proposition that some sort of revision was necessary. Then came the dissolution which is required by the constitution in such a case, followed by a general election. The newly chosen chambers, which for the purpose in hand comprised virtually a constituent convention, entered upon their task later in the same year. In both the Catholics maintained a majority, but by reason of the requirement of a two-thirds vote for the adoption of a constitutional amendment, they were none the less obliged to rely upon the Liberals for a certain amount of support. In the scheme of revision which was finally adopted all parties had some substantial share.

No fewer than fourteen distinct programmes of reform were laid before the chambers.[759] The Conservatives, in general, desired the introduction of a system based upon occupation combined with the (p. 541) payment of taxes; the majority of the Liberals sought to secure special recognition for electors of approved capacity—in brief, an educational qualification; the Radicals inside, and the Socialists outside, Parliament carried on a relentless propaganda in behalf of universal, direct, and equal suffrage. The rejection in committee (April, 1893) of a plan of universal suffrage occasioned popular demonstrations which required the calling out of the military, and when it was proposed to stop with a reduction of the age limit for voters there were threats of a universal industrial strike. In the end all elements wisely receded from their extreme demands and it was found possible to effect agreement upon a compromise. A Catholic deputy—Albert Nyssens, professor at the University of Louvain—came forward with a scheme for manhood suffrage, safeguarded by the plural vote, and September 3, 1893, the plan was adopted.[760]

[Footnote 759: It will be remembered that for the purpose of considering constitutional amendments the chambers meet in joint session.]

[Footnote 760: The Nyssens scheme was brought to the attention of the Belgian people through the medium of a pamphlet entitled "Le suffrage universel tempere."]

*596. The Franchise To-day.*—By the terms of the law of 1893, one vote is allotted to every male Belgian citizen who has attained the age of twenty-five years, who is in unrestricted enjoyment of his civil and political rights, and who has been resident at least one year in a given commune. There is nothing whatsoever in the nature of either an educational or a property qualification. Having conferred, however, upon the mass of male citizens the right to vote, the law proceeds to define the conditions under which a citizen may be entitled to two votes, or even three. One supplementary vote is conferred upon (1) every male citizen over thirty-five years of age, married or a widower, with legitimate offspring, and paying to the state as a householder a tax of not less than five francs, unless exempt by reason of his profession, and (2) every male citizen over twenty-five years of age owning real estate to the assessed value of 2,000 francs, or possessing income from land corresponding to such valuation, or who for two years has derived a minimum interest return of one hundred francs a year from Belgian funds, in the form of either government bonds or obligations of the Belgian government savings-bank. Two supplementary votes are conferred upon citizens over twenty-five years of age who (1) hold a diploma from an institution of higher learning, or an indorsed certificate testifying to the completion of a course of secondary education of the higher grade; or (2) occupy or have occupied a public office, hold or have held a position, practice or have practiced a profession, which presupposes the knowledge imparted in secondary instruction of the higher grade—such offices, (p. 542) positions, and professions to be defined from time to time by law.[761]

[Footnote 761: Art. 47. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 132-133.]

What, therefore, the law of 1893 does is, broadly, to confer upon every male citizen one vote and to specify three principal conditions under which this basal voting power may be augmented. As the head of a family, the citizen's suffrage may be doubled. By reason of his possession of property or of capital, it likewise may be doubled. On the basis of a not unattainable educational qualification, it may be tripled. Under no circumstances may an individual be entitled to more than three votes. The plural vote of Belgium differs, therefore, from that of Great Britain, not only in that it is based upon a variety of qualifications of which property ownership is but one, but also in that there is fixed an absolute and reasonably low maximum of votes. It is of interest further to observe that voting is declared by the Belgian constitution to be obligatory. Failure to appear at the polls, without adequate excuse made to the election officer, is a misdemeanor, punishable by law. The citizen may, if he likes, evade the law by depositing a blank ballot. But he must deposit a ballot of some sort.[762]

[Footnote 762: On the earlier aspects of Belgian electoral reform see J. Van den Heuvel, De la revision de la constitution (Brussels, 1892); L. Arnaud, La revision belge, 1890-1893 (Paris and Brussels, 1894); La reforme electorale en Belgique, in Annales de l'Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques, July, 1894; E. Van der Smissen, L'Etat actuel des partis politiques en Belgique, ibid., Sept., 1898. An important work by a leading socialist and a deputy from Brussels is L. Bertrand, Histoire de la democratie et du socialisme en Belgique depuis 1830, 2 vols. (Brussels and Paris, 1906-1907). Mention may be made also of E. Vandervelde et J. Destree, Le socialisme en Belgique (2d ed., Paris, 1903) and the older work of E. de Laveleye, Le parti clerical en Belgique (Brussels, 1874). A careful study is J. Barthelemy, L'organisation du suffrage et l'experience belge (Paris, 1912). In 1910-1911 the number of parliamentary electors was 1,697,619, of whom 993,070 had one vote, 395,866 had two votes, and 308,683 had three votes.]

III. PARTIES AND ELECTORAL REFORM SINCE 1894—PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE

*597. The Adoption of Proportional Representation, 1899.*—The first election held under the law of 1893, that of October 14, 1894, demonstrated that by that measure the number of electors had been multiplied almost exactly by ten. The total number of voters was now 1,370,000; the number of votes cast was 2,111,000. Contrary to general expectation, the election gave the Catholics an overwhelming majority in the lower chamber. They obtained 105 seats, the Socialists 29, and the Liberals only 18. The elections of 1896 and 1898 gave the (p. 543) Catholics a still more pronounced preponderance. At the beginning of 1899 the parties of the opposition could muster in the lower house only forty votes and in the upper only thirty-one. The Liberal party was threatened with extinction. Its popular strength, however, was still considerable, and from both Liberals and Socialists there arose an insistent demand for the adoption of a scheme whereby the various parties should be accorded seats in the law-making bodies in proportion to their popular vote.

The idea of proportional representation was not at this time in Belgium a new one. It had been formulated and defended in the lower chamber as early as 1866. Since 1881 there had been maintained a national reform organization whose purpose was in part to propagate it; and it is worthy of note that at the time of the revision of 1893 the ministry, led by the premier Beernaert, had advocated its adoption.[763] In 1895 the principle was introduced in a statute relating to communal elections. Following a prolonged contest, which involved the retirement of two premiers, a bill extending the plan to parliamentary elections was pressed upon the somewhat divided Catholic forces and, December 29, 1899, was enacted into law. Under the provisions of this measure deputies and the popularly elected senators continue to be chosen within the arrondissement by scrutin de liste. Within each arrondissement the seats to be filled are distributed among the parties in proportion to the party strength as revealed at the polls, the allotment taking place in accordance with the list system formulated by Victor d'Hondt, of the University of Ghent. The number of deputies elected in an arrondissement varies from three to twenty-one. When an elector appears at the polls he presents his official "summons" to vote and receives from the presiding officer one, two, or three ballot papers according to the number of votes to which he is entitled. He takes these papers to a private compartment, marks them, places them in the ballot-box, and has returned to him his letter of summons stamped in such a way as to show that he has fulfilled the obligation imposed upon him by law. The candidates of the various parties are presented in lists, and the task of the elector is merely to indicate his approval of one list for each of the votes to which he is entitled. This he does by pencilling white spots contained in the black squares at the head of the lists or against the names of individual candidates. He may pencil only the spot at the (p. 544) head of a list, thereby approving the order in which the candidates have been arranged by the party managers; or, by marking spaces opposite names of candidates, he may indicate his preference for a different order.

[Footnote 763: Another interesting proposal in 1893 was that at the discretion of the crown a legislative measure might be submitted to direct popular vote. By reason of the fear that such a scheme would vest in the crown an excess of power the experiment was not tried.]

*598. How Seats Are Allotted.*—The process of the apportionment of seats may be illustrated by a hypothetical case. Let it be assumed that within a given arrondissement four lists of parliamentary candidates have been presented and that at the polls an aggregate vote of 33,000 is distributed as follows: Catholics, 16,000; Liberals, 9,000; Socialists, 4,500; and Christian Democrats, 3,500. Let it be assumed, further, that the arrondissement is entitled to eight seats. The total number of votes for each list is divided successively by the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., and the results are arrayed thus:

Christian Catholic Liberal Socialist Democrat List[764] List List List

Divided by 1 16,000 9,000 4,500 3,500 Divided by 2 8,000 4,500 2,250 1,750 Divided by 3 5,333 3,000 1,500 1,166 Divided by 4 4,000 2,250 1,125 875 Divided by 5 3,200 1,800 900 700

[Footnote 764: In point of fact, the lists as published and as placed before the voter are indicated merely by number.]

The eight highest numbers (eight being the number of seats to be filled) are then arranged in order of magnitude as follows:

16,000 9,000 8,000 5,333 4,500 4,500 4,000 3,500

The lowest of these numbers, 3,500, becomes the common divisor, or the "electoral quotient." The number of votes cast for each list is divided by this quotient, and the resulting numbers (fractions being disregarded) indicate the quota of seats to which each of the parties is entitled. In the case in hand the results would be:

16,000 divided by 3,500 = 4 Catholic seats 9,000 divided by 3,500 = 2 Liberal seats 4,500 divided by 3,500 = 1 Socialist seat 3,500 divided by 3,500 = 1 Christian Democrat seat

*599. The Making up of the Lists.*—Lists of candidates are made (p. 545) up, and the order in which the names of candidates appear is determined, by the local organizations of the respective parties. In order to be presented to the electorate a list must have the previously expressed support of at least one hundred electors. A candidate may stand as an independent, and his name will appear in a separate "list," providing his candidacy meets the condition that has been mentioned; and it is within the right of any organization or group, political or non-political, to place before the electorate a list. The power of the organization responsible for the presentation of a list to fix the order of candidates' names is not a necessary feature of the proportional system and it has been the object of much criticism, but it is not clear that serious abuse has arisen from it. Candidates whose names stand near the top of the list are, of course, more likely to be elected than those whose names appear further down, for, under the prevailing rules, all votes indicated in the space at the head of a list form a pool from which the candidates on the list draw in succession as many votes as may be necessary to make their individual total equal to the electoral quotient, the process continuing until the pool is exhausted. Only by receiving a large number of individual preferential votes can a candidate be elected to the exclusion of a candidate whose name precedes his.[765]

[Footnote 765: Valuable books dealing with proportional representation in Belgium are G. Lachapelle, La representation proportionnelle en France et en Belgique (Paris, 1911); F. Goblet d'Alviella, La representation proportionelle en Belgique, and La representation proportionelle integrale (Paris, 1910); Barriety, La representation proportionelle en Belgique (Paris, 1906); Dubois, La representation proportionelle soumise a l'experience belge (Lille, 1906); and J. Humphreys, Proportional Representation (London, 1911). A careful account is contained in the Report and Evidence of the British Royal Commission on Electoral Systems (1910), Report, Cd. 5,163; Evidence, Cd. 5,352. Useful articles are: E. Mahaim, Proportional Representation and the Debates upon the Electoral Question in Belgium, in Annals of American Academy of Political and Social Science, May, 1900; E. Van der Smissen, La representation proportionnelle en Belgique et les elections generales de mai 1900, in Annales des Sciences Politiques, July-Sept., 1900; and J. Humphreys, Proportional Representation in Belgium, in Contemporary Review, Oct., 1908.]

*600. The Elections of 1906, 1908, and 1910.*—The first parliamentary election following the adoption of the proportional system—that of May, 1900—left the Catholics with a larger preponderance in the lower chamber than they had dared expect.[766] None the less, the effect of the change was distinctly to revive the all but defunct Liberal party, to stimulate enormously the aspirations of the Socialists, and, in (p. 546) general, to replace the crushing Catholic plurality of former years by a wide distribution of seats among representatives of the various parties and groups. Prior to the election of 1890 the Catholic majority was 32. The election of 1900 left it at 16; that of 1902, at 26; that of 1904, at 20; that of 1906, at 12; that of 1908, at 8; and that of 1910, at 6. Following the elections which took place in five of the nine provinces in 1906, party strength in the Chamber was as follows: Catholics, 89; Liberals, 46; Socialists, 30; Christian Democrats, 1. After the elections in the other four provinces in 1908, it was: Catholics, 87; Liberals, 43; Socialists, 35; Christian Democrats, 1.

[Footnote 766: It will be recalled that the term of deputies is four years, half retiring every two years. There is, therefore, a parliamentary election, but not throughout the entire country, every second year.]

The elections of May, 1910,[767] were contested with unusual keenness by reason of the fact that the Liberal-Socialist coalition seemed to have, for the first time in a quarter of a century, a distinct chance for victory. The Catholics were notoriously divided upon certain public issues, notably Premier Schollaert's Compulsory Military Service bill, and it was believed in many quarters that their tenure of power was near an end. The Liberal hope, however, was doomed to disappointment; for, although both Liberals and Socialists realized considerable gains in the popular vote in some portions of the kingdom, in only a single constituency was the gain sufficient to carry a new seat. The consequence was that the Catholic majority was reduced, but not below six, and party strength in the Chamber stood: Catholics, 86; Liberals, 45; Socialists, 34; Christian Democrats, 1. Among reasons that may be assigned for the Liberal failure are the fact that the country was prosperous and not disposed to precipitate a change of governments, the alienation of some voters by the working relations that had been established between the Liberals and the Socialists, and the advantage that regularly accrues to the Catholics from the plural vote.

[Footnote 767: In the five provinces of Brabant, Anvers, Namur, West Flanders, and Luxemburg, the term of whose deputies was about to expire.]

*601. The Catholic Triumph in 1912.*—During the years 1910-1912 the Catholic tenure of power, prolonged uninterruptedly since 1884, seemed more than once on the point of being broken. Most of the time, however, the legislative machine performed its functions sufficiently well with a majority of but half a dozen seats, and the drift of affairs operated eventually to strengthen the Catholic position. In March, 1911, Premier Schollaert introduced an education bill looking toward the placing of church schools upon a footing financially with the schools maintained by the communes, and the opposition to this measure acquired such intensity that the author of the bill was forced to retire. But his successor, De Broqueville, a man of conciliatory temperament, formed a new Catholic cabinet which, by falling back (p. 547) upon a policy of "marking time," contrived to stave off a genuine defeat. In the municipal elections held throughout the country October 15, 1911, the Liberal-Socialist candidates were very generally successful, but the parliamentary elections which took place June 2, 1912, had the unexpected result of entrenching the Catholic party more securely in power than in upwards of a decade. The combined assault of the Liberals and the Socialists upon "clericalism" fell flat, and against the Government's contention that the extraordinary and incontestable prosperity of the country merited a continuance of Catholic rule no arguments were forthcoming which carried conviction among the voters. The Catholic vote showed an increase of 130,610, the Liberal and Socialist opposition an increase of 40,402, and the Christian Democrats a decrease of 4,692. The new chamber consists of 101 Catholics, 45 Liberals, 38 Socialists, and 2 Christian Democrats, giving the Government a clear majority of sixteen. The elections were marked by grave public unrest, involving widespread strikes and anti-clerical demonstrations, with some loss of life. More clearly than before was exhibited in this campaign the essentially bourgeois and doctrinaire character of the present Liberal party. The intimate touch with the masses which in the days of its ascendancy, prior to 1884, the party enjoyed has been lost, and more and more the proletariat is looking to the Socialists for propagation of the measures required for social and industrial amelioration.

*602. The Demand for Further Reform.*—A project upon which the Socialists and Liberals in the last election, as upon several former occasions, have found it possible to unite is the abolition of the plural vote. Almost immediately after the adoption of the amendment of 1893 the Socialists declared their purpose to wage war unremittingly upon this feature of the new system. In its stead they demanded that there be substituted the rule of un homme, un vote, "one man, one vote," with the age limit reduced to twenty-one years. Following the triumph of the Catholics in 1900, the agitation of the Socialists was redoubled, and in it the Liberals very generally joined. Between the two groups there arose seemingly irreconcilable differences of method, the Liberals being unable to approve the obstructionism and other violent means employed by their allies. In time, however, the Socialist methods became more moderate, and the realization on the part of both elements that only by fighting together might they hope to win induced a fuller and more durable co-operation between the two. For the time being the Socialists have subordinated to the establishment of universal and equal suffrage all other features of their political and industrial programme.[768] Upon the desirability of maintaining (p. 548) proportional representation all parties are agreed, and it is probably but a question of time until the principle will be applied fully, as it is not to-day, in the elections of the provinces and communes.

[Footnote 768: August 15, 1911, Socialists and Liberals combined in an anti-plural-vote demonstration in Brussels in which 150,000 people are estimated to have taken part. For an able defense of plural voting under the system prevailing in Belgium see L. Dupriez, L'Organisation du suffrage universel en Belgique. Cf. E. Van der Smissen, La question du suffrage universel en Belgique, in Annales des Sciences Politiques, Sept., 1902. On recent aspects of Belgian politics consult L. Dupriez, L'evolution des partis politiques en Belgique et les elections de mai 1906, ibid., Sept., 1906; A. Kahn, Les elections belges, in Questions Diplomatiques et Coloniales, June 16, 1910; and J. Van den Heuvel, Les elections belges, in Le Correspondant, June 25, 1912. J. H. Humphreys, Proportional Representation in Belgium, in Contemporary Review, Oct., 1908, contains a concrete account of the elections of 1908. A useful volume is A. Fromes, Code electoral belge (Brussels, 1908).]

*603. The Legislative Chambers: Organization and Procedure.*—The two houses meet by established right on the second Tuesday in November of each year, at the Palais de la Nation, in Brussels. A regular session must continue through a period of at least forty days. The king may convene the chambers in extraordinary session. He may adjourn them, save that in no case may an adjournment exceed the term of one month; nor may it be renewed during the same session, without the consent of the houses. Finally, the king may dissolve the chambers, or either of them; but the act of dissolution must include an order for an election within forty days and a summons of the newly elected parliament to meet within two months.[769]

[Footnote 769: Arts. 70-72. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 137.]

Each house judges the qualifications of its members and decides all contests arising in relation thereto; each elects, at the opening of a session, its president, vice-president, secretaries, and other officials; each determines by its own rules the manner in which its powers shall be exercised. Sessions are normally public; but by vote of an absolute majority, taken at the instigation of the president or of ten members, either body may decide to consider a specific subject behind closed doors. Votes are taken viva voce or by rising, but a vote on a bill as a whole must always be by roll call and viva voce. Except on propositions pertaining to constitutional amendments and a few matters (upon which a two-thirds vote is required), measures are passed by absolute majority. They must, however, be voted upon article by article.

From the essentially democratic character of the Belgian government, it follows that the powers of the legislative chambers are comprehensive. The functions of legislation are vested by the constitution conjointly in the king and the two houses, but in practice they are exercised (p. 549) in a very large measure by the houses alone. Each house, as well as the crown, possesses full rights of legislative initiative, though it is required that all laws relating to the revenues or expenditures of the state, or to military contingents, shall be voted first by the House of Representatives. Authoritative interpretation of measures enacted is confided exclusively to the legislative power, and each house is guaranteed the right to inquire into the conduct of public affairs and to compel the attendance of ministers for the purpose of interpellation, although the lower house alone is given power to formulate charges against public officials and to arraign them before the Court of Cassation.

IV. THE JUDICIARY AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

*604. The Courts.*—Aside from special military, commercial, and labor tribunals, the courts of Belgium comprise a symmetrical hierarchy modelled upon that created under the Code Napoleon. At the bottom are the courts of the 222 cantons, each consisting of a single justice of the peace, vested in ordinary breaches of police regulations with sole authority, though in more serious cases associated with the burgomaster of the commune. Next above are the tribunals of first instance, one in each of the twenty-six arrondissements into which the kingdom is divided, and each consisting of three judges. The court of first instance serves as a court of appeal from the decisions of the cantonal tribunal, and at the same time it possesses original jurisdiction in more serious cases of crime and misdemeanors within the arrondissement. Above the courts of first instance stand the three courts of appeal, sitting at Brussels, Ghent, and Liege. That at Brussels consists of four chambers. At the apex is the Court of Cassation, sitting at the capital. In this supreme tribunal there is but a single judge, but associated with him is a large staff of assistants. The function of the Court of Cassation is to determine whether the decisions of inferior tribunals are in accord with the law and to annul such as are not. It is of interest to observe, however, that it is the Court of Cassation that tries a minister upon charges preferred by the House of Representatives, and this is the only circumstance under which the tribunal exercises any measure of original jurisdiction. The creation of the Court of Cassation and of the three courts of appeal is specifically provided for within the constitution. All inferior tribunals are created by law, and none are permitted to be established otherwise. For the trial of criminal cases there are special tribunals, in three grades: police courts, correctional courts, and courts of assize.

All judges and justices of the peace are appointed by the king for life. Members of the courts of appeal and the presidents and (p. 550) vice-presidents of the courts of original jurisdiction are selected from two double lists presented, the one by these courts and the other by the provincial councils. Members of the Court of Cassation are selected from two double lists presented, the one by the Senate and the other by the Court itself. All other judicial officers are appointed by the crown independently. Except for urgent reasons of public order or morals, sessions of all tribunals are public, and every judgment must be pronounced in open court. Unlike Holland, Belgium has a well developed system of trial by jury. Jury trial is guaranteed by the constitution in all criminal cases and in all cases involving political or press offenses. As in England and the United States, it is the function of the jury to determine whether or not the accused is guilty and that of the court to explain the law and to pronounce sentence. A jury consists regularly of twelve members.[770]

[Footnote 770: Arts. 92-107. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 140-142. Roubion, La separation des pouvoirs administratif et judiciaire en Belgique (Paris, 1905).]

*605. Local Government: Province and Arrondissement.*—Upon the subject of local government the constitution of Belgium is less explicit than is that of Holland. Aside from specifying that provincial and communal institutions shall be regulated by law, it contents itself with an enumeration of certain principles—among them direct elections, publicity of sittings of provincial and communal councils, publicity of budgets and accounts—whose application is regularly to be maintained.[771] Of local governmental units there are three:[772] the province, the arrondissement, and the commune. The provinces are nine in number.[773] In each is a council, elected by all resident citizens who are entitled to participate in the direct election of senators. The term is eight years, half of the membership being renewed every four years. The council meets at least once a year, on the first Tuesday in July. Its sessions must not exceed four weeks in length nor be briefer than fifteen days. Special sessions may be called by the king. The council considers and takes action upon substantially all legislative, administrative, and fiscal affairs which concern the province alone. It elects from its own members a permanent deputation of six men which is charged with the government of the province while the council is not in session. This deputation is presided over by the governor-general of the province who is appointed by the crown and who serves as the principal intermediary between the provincial (p. 551) and the central governments.

[Footnote 771: Arts. 108-109. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 142-143.]

[Footnote 772: Not including the canton, which exists purely for judicial purposes. It is the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace.]

[Footnote 773: Antwerp, Brabant, East Flanders, West Flanders, Hainaut, Liege, Limburg, Luxemburg, and Namur.]

The arrondissement, or district (twenty-six in number), is important chiefly as an electoral and judicial unit. Members of the lower house of the national parliament are elected within the arrondissement under the scheme of proportional representation which has been described; and, as has been pointed out, each arrondissement is the seat of a court of first instance.

*606. The Commune.*—In Belgium, as in France and other continental countries, the vital organism of local government is the commune. The total number of communes in the kingdom is 2,629. The principal agency of government within each is a council. Members of this council are elected for a term of eight years, under arrangements of a somewhat complicated character determined by the population of the commune. Voting is viva voce; plural votes (to a maximum of four) are authorized; and seats, under certain conditions, are allocated in accordance with the principle of proportional representation. A somewhat singular fact is that the aggregate communal electorate of the kingdom is perceptibly smaller than the provincial or the national. The fact arises largely from the circumstance that the communal voter is required to have been domiciled at least three years in the commune, while residence of but a single year is required for participation in provincial and parliamentary elections.[774]

[Footnote 774: In 1902, 1,146,482 communal electors cast a total of 2,007,704 votes. In 1910-1911 there were 1,440,141 provincial, and 1,300,514 communal, voters.]

The administrative body of the commune consists of a burgomaster, or mayor, appointed by the crown (in communes whose population exceeds 5,000 elected by the communal council) for a term of ten years, and a college of echevins, or aldermen, elected by and from the communal council. The burgomaster is head of the local police, and to him and to the council fall the keeping of the register of births, marriages, and deaths, the making and enforcing of local ordinances, and, in general, the safeguarding of the welfare of the community. The more important measures of the communal council become valid only after they have received the approval of the provincial deputation, or even of the ministry at Brussels; and there are special officials, known as commissaires d'arrondissement, appointed by the provincial deputation, to maintain supervision over the communes and their governing authorities. A fundamental characteristic, indeed, of Belgian administration is the combination of constant supervision by the central power with a really large measure of local autonomy.[775]

[Footnote 775: Dupriez, Les Ministres, 262-276; E. de Laveleye, Local Government and Taxation, in Cobden Club Essays (London, 1875).]



PART VIII.—SCANDINAVIA (p. 553)



CHAPTER XXX

THE GOVERNMENT OF DENMARK

I. DEVELOPMENT PRIOR TO 1814

The kingdom of Denmark is among the smallest of European states. Its area is but 15,582 square miles, which is less than one-third of that of the state of New York, and its population, according to the returns of 1911, is but 2,775,076. The nation is one whose social experiments, economic enterprises, and political practices abound in interest. As a power, it counts nowadays for little. Time was, however, when it counted for much, and the developments by which the kingdom has been reduced to its present status among the nations comprise one of the remarkable chapters of modern European history.

*607. Union of Kalmar, 1397.*—The maximum of Danish dominion was attained by virtue of the Union of Kalmar, in 1397, whereby the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were united under the regency of Margaret, daughter of the Danish king Valdemar IV.[776] By the terms of this arrangement the native institutions and the separate administration of each of the three states were guaranteed; and, in point of fact, so powerless at times during succeeding generations was the Danish sovereign in his over-sea dominions that for all practical purposes each of the three affiliated kingdoms may be regarded as having retained essentially its original independence. During an extended period at the middle of the fifteenth century Sweden even had a king of her own. None the less, there was a form of union, and at times the preponderance of Denmark tended to reduce the northern nations to the status of mere dependencies. The union with Sweden lasted only a century and a quarter. Under the leadership of Gustavus Vasa the Swedish people, in 1523, effectually regained their independence, although in accordance with the Treaty of Malmoe, in 1524, certain of the southernmost Swedish provinces remained for a time under Danish control.[777] It was the lot of Norway, on the (p. 554) other hand, not alone to be brought more thoroughly into subjection to Denmark than was Sweden, but to continue under Danish sovereignty until 1814, and even at that date to pass instantly from the control of Denmark into that of Sweden, rather than to regain her ancient independence.

[Footnote 776: The nominal sovereign was Margaret's great-nephew, Eric of Pomerania, who was elected at a convention of representatives of the three kingdoms held simultaneously with the establishment of the Union. Eric was deposed in 1439.]

[Footnote 777: R. N. Bain, Scandinavia, a Political History of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (Cambridge, 1905), Chap. 3; P. B. Watson, The Swedish Revolution under Gustavus Vasa (London, 1889).]

*608. The Loss of Norway, 1814.*—The loss of Norway by Denmark was an incident of the Napoleonic wars. During the course of those wars Denmark, as long as was practicable, maintained a policy of neutrality. But in 1807, after she had rejected an offer of a British alliance, she was attacked by a British fleet, and thereupon she became the firmest and most persistent of the allies of Napoleon. Thus it came about that when the contest of the powers drew to an end Denmark had the misfortune to be found upon the losing side. Sweden stood with the Allies, and the upshot was that, to compensate that nation for her loss of Finland to Russia and of Pomerania to Prussia, the Allies gave their consent, in 1812-1813, to the dismemberment by Sweden of the Danish dominion. The work was accomplished by the French marshal Bernadotte, crown prince of Sweden (by adoption) from 1810, and later king (1818-1844). By the Treaty of Kiel, January 14, 1814, Norway was ceded perforce by Denmark to Sweden, and by the Congress of Vienna, later in the year, the transfer was accorded the formal approval of the powers. The Norwegians objected and proceeded to elect as their king a Danish prince; but in the end they were compelled to submit. Denmark was unable to do more than make ineffectual protest.

*609. Political Development: the Revolution of 1660.*—The governmental system with which Denmark emerged from the era of Napoleon was essentially that which had been in operation in the kingdom since the second half of the seventeenth century. Prior to a remarkable revolution which, in 1660, followed the conclusion of a costly war with Sweden, monarchy in Denmark was limited and almost uniformly weak. Through three hundred years the kings were elected by the Rigsrad, or senate, and the conditions of their tenure were such as to preclude both the independence of action and the accumulation of resources which is essential to absolutism. As early as 1282 the nobles were able to extort from the crown a haandfaestning, or charter, and almost every sovereign after that date was compelled, once at least during his reign, to make a grant of chartered privileges. To the Danehof, or national assembly, fell at times a (p. 555) goodly measure of authority, although eventually it was the Rigsrad that procured the supreme control of the state. The national assembly comprised the three estates of the nobles, the clergy, and the burgesses;[778] the senate was a purely aristocratic body.

[Footnote 778: In the Swedish diet the peasantry constituted a fourth estate, but in Denmark no political power was possessed by this class.]

In 1660 there occurred a revolution in consequence of which the monarchy was rehabilitated and a governmental system which long had been notoriously disjointed and inefficient was replaced by a system which, if despotic, was at least much superior to that which theretofore had been in operation. The nobles, discredited by the calamities which their misrule had brought upon the nation, were compelled to give way, and the estates represented in the Danehof surrendered, in a measure voluntarily, a considerable portion of the privileges to which they had been accustomed to lay claim. The monarchy was put once more upon an hereditary basis and its powers were materially enlarged. The intent of the aggressive sovereign of the day, Frederick III., was to proceed with caution, but not to stop halfway. By the promulgation of two monumental documents the road was thrown open to thoroughgoing absolutism. One of these was the "Instrument, or Pragmatic Sanction, of the King's Hereditary Right to the Kingdoms of Denmark and Norway," dated January 10, 1661. The other was the Kongelov, or "King's Law," of November 14, 1665, a state paper which has been declared to have "the highly dubious honor of being the one written law in the civilized world which fearlessly carries out absolutism to its last consequences."[779] In the Kongelov it was made lese-majeste in any manner to usurp or infringe the king's absolute authority; it was asserted that the moment the sovereign ascends the throne crown and scepter are vested in him by his own right; and the sole obligation of the king was affirmed to be to maintain the indivisibility of the realm, to preserve the Christian faith in accordance with the Augsburg Confession, and to execute faithfully all of the provisions of the Kongelov itself. Such were the principles upon which, during upwards of two centuries thereafter, the government of the Danish kingdom was based. Absolutism was all but unrelieved; but it is only fair to add that most of the sovereigns, according to the light which they possessed, sought to govern in the interest of their subjects.[780]

[Footnote 779: Bain, Scandinavia, 266.]

[Footnote 780: For sketches of Danish political history prior to 1814 see Bain, Scandinavia, Chaps. 2, 4, 7, 10, 15; Lavisse et Rambaud, Histoire Generale, III., Chap. 14, IV., Chap. 15; VI., Chap. 17; VII., Chap. 23; IX., Chap. 23. An important Danish work is P. F. Barfod, Danmarks Historie, 1319-1536 (Copenhagen, 1885).]

II. THE RISE OF CONSTITUTIONALISM, 1814-1866 (p. 556)

*610. The Provincial Diets.*—Gradually after 1814 the kingdom recovered from the depression into which by its loss of territory and its staggering indebtedness it had been plunged, and with the recovery came a revived political spirit as well as a fresh economic stimulus. The sixteen years between the Treaty of Kiel and the revolutionary year 1830 were almost absolutely devoid of political agitation, but after 1830 there set in, in Denmark as in most continental countries, a liberal movement whose object was nothing less than the establishment of a constitutional system of government. To meet in some measure the demands which were made upon him, King Frederick VI. called into being, by decrees of 1831 and 1834, four Landtags, or diets, one in each of the provinces of the realm—Schleswig, Holstein, Jutland, and the Islands.[781] The members of these assemblies, comprising burgesses, landowners, and peasants, were to be chosen by the landed proprietors for a term of six years, and they were to meet biennially for the discussion of laws and taxes and the drawing up of petitions. A few landowners, professors, and ecclesiastics were to be appointed to membership by the crown. The function of each of the four bodies was purely consultative.

[Footnote 781: The ordinance establishing the provincial assemblies was promulgated May 28, 1831, but the assemblies did not come into existence until after the supplementary decrees of May 15, 1834. In 1843 Iceland was granted "home rule," with the right to maintain an independent legislature.]

*611. Royal Opposition to Reform.*—From the point of view of the Liberals, whose aim was the institution of a national parliamentary system, the king's concession was too meager to comprise more than a bare beginning. Throughout the remainder of the reign agitation was kept up, although at the hand of a sovereign whose fundamental political principle was the divine right of kings, little that was more substantial was to be expected. Christian VIII., who succeeded Frederick in December, 1839, brought with him to the throne a reputation for enlightened and progressive views. Further, however, than to pledge himself to certain administrative reforms the new sovereign displayed scant willingness to go. One liberal project after another was repelled, and press prosecutions and other coercive measures were brought to bear to discourage propaganda. It was in this period, however, that there arose a preponderating issue whose settlement was destined eventually to exert a powerful influence in the establishment of constitutional government in Denmark, i.e., the question of the policy to be pursued in respect to the affiliated duchies of Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg.[782] During the (p. 557) later years of the reign successive ministries grappled vainly with this problem, and the political forces of the kingdom came to be divided with unprecedented sharpness by the conflict between the separatist tendency and the demand for immediate and complete incorporation. The king himself was brought eventually to consent to the framing of a constitution for the whole of his dominions, as a means of holding the realm together; but he died, January 20, 1848, before the task had been completed.

[Footnote 782: Holstein and Lauenburg were German in population and were members of the German Confederation. Southern Schleswig also was inhabited by German-speaking people, though the duchy did not belong to the Confederation. Schleswig and Holstein had been joined with Denmark under a precarious form of union since the Middle Ages. Lauenburg was acquired, with the assent of the Allies, in 1814-1815 in partial compensation for the loss of Norway.]

*612. The Constitutions of 1848-1849.*—Within eight days the constitution was promulgated by the new sovereign, Frederick VII. Under its provisions there was established a parliament representative of all of the Danish dominions. Neither the Danes nor the inhabitants of the duchies, however, were satisfied, and in Holstein there broke out open rebellion. Prussia intervened in behalf of the disaffected duchies, and Great Britain and Russia in behalf of the Danish Government. The result was the triumph of the Government; but in the meantime the rescript by which the common constitution had been promulgated was withdrawn. In its place was published a decree which provided for the establishment of a bicameral national assembly (Rigsdag), of whose 152 members 38, nominated by the crown, were to form a Landsthing, or upper chamber, and the remaining 114, elected by the people, were to comprise a Folkething, or house of representatives. In the early summer of 1849 a constitution embodying these arrangements was drawn up; and June 5, after having been adopted by the new Rigsdag, the instrument was approved by the crown. For the moment the question of the duchies seemed insoluble, and this second constitution was extended to Jutland and the Islands only, i.e., to Denmark proper. Its adoption, however, is a landmark in Danish constitutional history. Under its terms the autocracy of the Kongelov was formally abandoned and in its place was substituted a limited monarchy in which legislative powers were to be shared by the crown with an elective diet and the executive authority was to be exercised by ministers responsible to the legislative body. As will appear, it was this constitution of June 5, 1849, that, with revision, became permanently the fundamental law of the kingdom.[783]

[Footnote 783: Bain, Scandinavia, Chap. 16; Cambridge Modern History, XI., Chap. 24 (bibliography, pp. 961-962); Lavisse et Rambaud, Histoire Generale, X., Chap. 18; C. F. Allen, Histoire de Danemark depuis les temps les plus recules jusqu'a nos jours (Copenhagen, 1878).]

*613. The Problem of the Duchies.*—Following prolonged (p. 558) international conferences, there was issued, January 28, 1852, a new constitutional decree by which it was provided that the kingdom proper and Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg should have a common constitution for common affairs, but that each of the territories should enjoy autonomy in the management of its separate concerns. An ultra-conservative constitution which had been worked out by the Rigsdag in consultation with the Landtags of the duchies, was promulgated October 2, 1855. No sooner had the instrument been put in operation, however, than stubborn opposition to its provisions arose, both from the duchies themselves and from the interested powers of Germany. November 28, 1858, the Danish Government yielded in so far as to consent to the withdrawal of the constitution from Holstein and Lauenburg. Through several years thereafter the question of the duchies overshadowed all else in Danish politics and in Danish diplomatic relations. March 30, 1863, a royal decree recognized the essential detachment of Holstein from the monarchy and vested the legislative power of the duchy solely in the king and the local estates. Later in the year, however, the premier Hall proposed and carried through the Rigsdag a constitution which contemplated again the incorporation of Schleswig with the kingdom. To this instrument the Council of State, November 13, gave its assent, and, five days later, with the approval of the new sovereign, Christian IX., it became law. So far as Denmark was concerned, the solution of the question of the duchies was now at hand. In the name of Prussia and Austria, Bismarck demanded summarily that the November constitution be rescinded. War ensued, and by the Treaty of Vienna, October 30, 1864, Denmark, in defeat, yielded all claim to Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg. After continuing for a time a bone of contention between the leading German states, these territories were incorporated, subsequent to the Austro-Prussian war of 1866, in the kingdom of Prussia. Denmark, shorn of a million of population and approximately one-third of her territory, was reduced in power and area to substantially her present proportions.[784]

[Footnote 784: Cambridge Modern History, XI., Chap. 16; Lavisse et Rambaud, Histoire Generale, XI., Chap. 12; J. W. Headlam, Bismarck and the Foundation of the German Empire (New York, 1909), Chap. 8; H. Delbrueck, Der Deutsch-Daenische Krieg, 1864 (Berlin, 1905).]

*614. The Revised Constitution of 1866.*—The loss of the duchies, while humiliating, cut the Gordian knot, of Danish political reconstruction. July 28, 1866, the constitution of July 5, 1849, in revised form, (p. 559) was re-issued, and this instrument continues to the present day the fundamental law of the kingdom. Its ultimate adoption was the achievement largely of the agricultural interests in the Rigsdag; but the king, Christian IX., though not in sympathy with the parliamentary ideal of government, gave it his cordial support. The constitution is an elaborate document, in ninety-five articles. In addition to the customary specifications relating to the executive, legislative, and judicial departments of the government, it contains a wide variety of guarantees respecting religion, freedom of speech and of the press, liberty of assemblage and of petition, and uniformity of judicial procedure, which, taken together, comprise a very substantial bill of rights.[785] The method of its amendment is not materially unlike that prevailing in Holland, Belgium, and a number of other continental countries. Proposals regarding alterations or additions may be submitted at any time within either branch of the Rigsdag. In the event of the adoption of a proposal of the kind by both chambers, it becomes the duty of the Government, provided it favors the change, to dissolve the Rigsdag and to order a general election. If the newly chosen Rigsdag adopts the proposed amendment without change and the crown formally approves it, the modification goes forthwith into effect.[786] Constitutional amendments since 1866 have been, however, neither numerous nor important.[787]

[Footnote 785: Arts. 80-94. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 278-280.]

[Footnote 786: Art. 95. Ibid., I., 280.]

[Footnote 787: The text of the Danish constitution, in English translation, is printed in Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 267-281; H. Weitemeyer, Denmark (London, 1891), 203-217; and British and Foreign State Papers, LVIII. (1867-1868), 1,223 ff. The best brief treatise on the Danish constitutional system is C. Goos and H. Hansen, Das Staatsrecht des Koenigsreichs Daenemark (Freiburg, 1889), in Marquardsen's Handbuch. A Danish edition of this work was issued at Copenhagen in 1890. The best extended commentaries are H. Matzen, Den Danske Statsforfatningsret (3d ed., Copenhagen, 1897-1901) and C. G. Holck, Den Danske Statsforfatningsret (Copenhagen, 1869). T. H. Aschehoug, Den Nordiske Statsret (Copenhagen, 1885) is a useful study, from a comparative point of view, of the constitutional law of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.]

III. THE CROWN AND THE MINISTRY

*615. The King: Status and Powers.*—The form of the Danish government is declared by the constitution to be that of a limited monarchy.[788] The throne is hereditary, and the succession is regulated by a law of July 31, 1853, adopted in pursuance of the Treaty of London of May (p. 560) 8, 1852, wherein the powers bestowed the Danish succession upon Prince Christian, of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gluecksburg, and the direct male descendants of his union with the Princess Louise of Hesse-Cassel, niece of Christian VIII. of Denmark.[789] By the constitution it is required of the king that he shall not become the ruler of any country other than Denmark without the consent of the Rigsdag, that he shall belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church (the national church of Denmark, supported by the state), and that before assuming the throne he shall give in writing before the Council of State an assurance, under oath, that he will maintain inviolate the constitution of the kingdom.[790] The royal civil list is fixed by law for the term of the reign. That of the present sovereign, Frederick VIII., is one million kroner annually.

[Footnote 788: Art. 1. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 267.]

[Footnote 789: Prince Christian became, in 1863, King Christian IX.]

[Footnote 790: One original text of this pledge must be preserved in the archives of the crown, another in those of the Rigsdag. Art. 7. Dodd, Modern Constitutions, I., 267.]

The powers of the king are comprehensive. Within the limitations prescribed by the constitution, he exercises "supreme authority over all the affairs of the kingdom." He appoints to all offices, dismisses from office, and transfers from one office to another. He declares war and makes peace. He concludes and terminates treaties of alliance and of commerce, on condition only that an agreement which involves a cession of territory or a change of existing international relations must receive the assent of the Rigsdag. He exercises the power of pardon and of amnesty, save that without the consent of the Folkething he may not relieve ministers of penalties arising from impeachment proceedings. He grants such licenses and exemptions from the laws as are authorized by statute. He convenes the Rigsdag in regular session annually and in extraordinary session at will, adjourns it, and dissolves either or both of the houses. He may submit to it projects for consideration or drafts of laws, and his consent is necessary to impart legal character to any of the measures which it enacts. He orders the publication of statutes and sees that they are executed. Finally, when the need is urgent and the Rigsdag is not in session, he may promulgate ordinances, provided, first, that they are not contrary to the constitution, and, second, that they are laid before the Rigsdag at its ensuing meeting.

*616. The Ministry and the Parliamentary System.*—For the measures of the government the king is not personally responsible. His powers are exercised through ministers, who are appointed and may be removed by him, and whose number and functions are left to his determination. The ministries are nine in number, as follows: Foreign Affairs, (p. 561) Interior, Justice, Finance, Commerce, Defense, Agriculture, Public Works, and Public Instruction and Ecclesiastical Affairs. Collectively the ministers form the Council of State, over which the king presides and in which the heir to the throne, if of age, is entitled to a seat. All laws and important public matters are apt normally to be discussed in the Council of State. There is also, however, a Council of Ministers, consisting simply of the nine heads of departments under the presidency of an additional minister designated by the crown, and to this body are referred in practice many minor subjects that call for consideration.

The ministers, so the constitution affirms, are responsible for the conduct of the government.[791] The king's signature of a measure gives it legal character only if accompanied by the signature of one or more of the ministers, and ministers may be called to account by the Folkething, as well as by the king, for their conduct in office. There is, furthermore, a special Court of Impeachment for the trial of ministers against whom charges are brought. On the surface, these arrangements seem to imply the existence of a parliamentary system of government, with a ministry answerable singly and collectively to the popular legislative chamber. In point of fact, however, there has been all the while much less parliamentarism in Denmark than seemingly is contemplated in the constitution, and it is hardly too much to say that since the adoption of the present constitution the most interminable of political controversies in the kingdom has been that centering about the question of the responsibility of ministers. Until at least within the past decade, the practice of the crown has been regularly to appoint ministers independently and to maintain them in office in disregard of, and even in defiance of, the wishes of the popular branch of the legislature. The desire of the Liberals has been to inaugurate a thoroughgoing parliamentary regime, under which the sovereign should be obligated to select his ministers from the party in control of the Folkething and the ministers, in turn, should be responsible to the Folkething, in fact as well as in theory, for all of their official acts. Throughout the prolonged period covered by the ministry of Jakob Estrup (1875-1894) the conflict upon this issue was incessant. During the whole of the period Estrup and his colleagues commanded the support of a majority in the Landsthing, but were accorded the votes of only a minority in the lower chamber. After the elections of 1884, indeed, the Government could rely upon a total of not more than nineteen votes in that chamber.

Previous Part     1 ... 5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21     Next Part
Home - Random Browse