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HISTORY]
23
AUSTRIA–HUNGARY

comprising a joint Austro-Hungarian tariff as a basis for the negotiation of new commercial treaties with Germany, Italy and other states. This arrangement, which for the sake of brevity will henceforth be referred to as the Széll-Körber Compact, was destined to play an important part in the history of the next few years, though it was never fully ratified by either parliament and was ultimately discarded. Its conclusion was prematurely greeted as the end of a period of economic strife between the two halves of the monarchy and as a pledge of a decade of peaceful development. Events were soon to demonstrate the baselessness of these hopes.

In the autumn of 1902 the Austrian and the Hungarian The Army question. governments, at the instance of the crown and in agreement with the joint minister for war and the Austrian and Hungarian ministers for national defence, laid before their respective parliaments bills providing for an increase of 21,000 men in the annual contingents of recruits. 16,700 men were needed for the joint army, and the remainder for the Austrian and Hungarian national defence troops (Landwehr and honvéd). The total contribution of Hungary would have been some 6500 and of Austria some 14,500 men. The military authorities made, however, the mistake of detaining in barracks several thousand supernumerary recruits (i.e. recruits liable to military service but in excess of the annual 103,000 enrollable by law) pending the adoption of the Army bills by the two parliaments. The object of this apparently high-handed step was to avoid the expense and delay of summoning the supernumeraries again to the colours when the bills should have received parliamentary sanction; but it was not unnaturally resented by the Hungarian Chamber, which has ever possessed a lively sense of its prerogatives. The Opposition, consisting chiefly of the independence party led by Francis Kossuth (eldest son of Louis Kossuth), made capital out of the grievance and decided to obstruct ministerial measures until the supernumeraries should be discharged. The estimates could not be sanctioned, and though Kossuth granted the Széll cabinet a vote on account for the first four months of 1903, the Government found itself at the mercy of the Opposition. At the end of 1902 the supernumeraries were discharged—too late to calm the ardour of the Opposition, which proceeded to demand that the Army bills should be entirely withdrawn or that, if adopted, they should be counterbalanced by concessions to Magyar nationalist feeling calculated to promote the use of the Magyar language in the Hungarian part of the army and to render the Hungarian regiments, few of which are purely Magyar, more and more Magyar in character. Széll, who vainly advised the crown and the military authorities to make timely concessions, was obliged to reject these demands which enjoyed the secret support of Count Albert Apponyi, the Liberal president of the Chamber and of his adherents. The obstruction of the estimates continued. On the 1st of May the Széll cabinet found itself without supply and governed for a time “ex-lex”; Széll, who had lost the confidence of the crown, resigned and was succeeded (June 26) by Count Khuen-Hederváry, previously ban, or governor, of Croatia. Before taking office Khuen-Hederváry negotiated with Kossuth and other Opposition leaders, who undertook that obstruction should cease if the Army bills were withdrawn. Despite the fact that the Austrian Army bill had been voted by the Reichsrath (February 19), the crown consented to withdraw the bills and thus compelled the Austrian parliament to repeal, at the dictation of the Hungarian obstructionists, what it regarded as a patriotic measure. Austrian feeling became embittered towards Hungary and the action of the crown was openly criticized.

Meanwhile the Hungarian Opposition broke its engagement. The Magyar words of command. Obstruction was continued by a section of the independence party; and Kossuth, seeing his authority ignored, resigned the leadership. The obstructionists now raised the cry that the German words of command in the joint army must be replaced by Magyar words in the regiments recruited from Hungary—a demand which, apart from its disintegrating influence on the army, the crown considered to be an encroachment upon the royal military prerogatives as defined by the Hungarian Fundamental Law XII. of 1867. Clause 11 of the law runs:—“In pursuance of the constitutional military prerogatives of His Majesty, everything relating to the unitary direction, leadership and inner organization of the whole army, and thus also of the Hungarian army as a complementary part of the whole army, is recognized as subject to His Majesty's disposal.” The cry for the Magyar words of command on which the subsequent constitutional crisis turned, was tantamount to a demand that the monarch should differentiate the Hungarian from the Austrian part of the joint army, and should render it impossible for any but Magyar officers to command Hungarian regiments, less than half of which have a majority of Magyar recruits. The partisans of the Magyar words of command based their claim upon clause 12 of the Fundamental Law XII. of 1867—which runs:—“Nevertheless the country reserves its right periodically to complete the Hungarian army and the right of granting recruits, the fixing of the conditions on which the recruits are granted, the fixing of the term of service and all the dispositions concerning the stationing and the supplies of the troops according to existing law both as regards legislation and administration.” Since Hungary reserved her right to fix the conditions on which recruits should be granted, the partisans of the Magyar words of command argued that the abolition of the German words of command in the Hungarian regiments might be made such a condition, despite the enumeration in the preceding clause 11, of everything appertaining to the unitary leadership and inner organization of the joint Austro-Hungarian army as belonging to the constitutional military prerogatives of the crown. Practically, the dispute was a trial of strength between Magyar nationalist feeling and the crown. Austrian feeling strongly supported the monarch in his determination to defend the unity of the army, and the conflict gradually acquired an intensity that appeared to threaten the very existence of the dual system.

When Count Khuen-Hederváry took office and Kossuth relinquished the leadership of the independence party, the extension of the crisis could not be foreseen. A few extreme nationalists continued to obstruct the estimates, and it appeared as though their energy would soon flag. An attempt to quicken this process by bribery provoked, however, an outburst of feeling against Khuen-Hederváry who, though personally innocent, found his position shaken. Shortly afterwards Magyar resentment of an army order issued from the cavalry manœuvres at Chlopy in Galicia—in which the monarch declared that he would “hold fast to the existing and well-tried organization of the army” and would never “relinquish the rights and privileges guaranteed to its highest war-lord”; and of a provocative utterance of the Austrian premier Körber in the Reichsrath led to the overthrow of the Khuen-Hederváry cabinet (September 30) by an immense majority. The cabinet fell on a motion of censure brought forward by Kossuth, who had profited by the bribery incident to resume the leadership of his party.

An interval of negotiation between the crown and many Stephen Tisza. leading Magyar Liberals followed, until at the end of October 1903 Count Stephen Tisza, son of Koloman Tisza, accepted a mission to form a cabinet after all others had declined. As programme Tisza brought with him a number of concessions from the crown to Magyar nationalist feeling in regard to military matters, particularly in regard to military badges, penal procedure, the transfer of officers of Hungarian origin from Austrian to Hungarian regiments, the establishment of military scholarships for Magyar youths and the introduction of the two years' service system. In regard to the military language, the Tisza programme—which, having been drafted by a committee of nine members, is known as the “programme of the nine”—declared that the responsibility of the cabinet extends to the military prerogatives of the crown, and that “the legal influence of parliament exists in this respect as in respect of every constitutional right.” The programme, however, expressly excluded for “weighty political reasons affecting great interests of the nation” the question of the military