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30
[HISTORY
AUSTRIA–HUNGARY

by Beust to remonstrate with him. A great council was called at Vienna (October 20), at which the emperor gave his decision that the Bohemian demands could not be accepted. The Czechs must come to Vienna, and consider a revision of the constitution in a constitutional manner. Hohenwart resigned, but at the same time Beust was dismissed, and a new cabinet was chosen once more from among the German Liberals, under the leadership of Prince Adolf Auersperg, whose brother Carlos had been one of the chief members in the Bürger Ministerium. For the second time in four years the policy of the government had completely changed within a few months. On 12th September the decree had been published accepting the Bohemian claims; before the end of the year copies of it were seized by the police, and men were thrown into prison for circulating it.

Auersperg's ministry held office for eight years. They began Auersperg's ministry, 1871 to 1879. as had the Bürger Ministerium, with a vigorous Liberal centralizing policy. In Bohemia they succeeded at first in almost crushing the opposition. In 1872 the diet was dissolved; and the whole influence of the government was used to procure a German majority. Koller, the governor, acted with great vigour. Opposition newspapers were suppressed; cases in which Czech journalists were concerned were transferred to the German districts, so that they were tried by a hostile German jury. Czech manifestoes were confiscated, and meetings stopped at the slightest appearance of disorder; and the riots were punished by quartering soldiers upon the inhabitants. The decision between the two races turned on the vote of the feudal proprietors, and in order to win this a society was formed among the German capitalists of Vienna (to which the name of Chabrus was popularly given) to acquire by real or fictitious purchase portions of those estates to which a vote was attached. These measures were successful; a large German majority was secured; Jews from Vienna sat in the place of the Thuns and the Schwarzenbergs; and as for many years the Czechs refused to sit in the diet, the government could be carried on without difficulty. A still greater blow to the Federalists was the passing of a new electoral law in 1873. The measure transferred the right of electing members of the Reichsrath from the diets to the direct vote of the people, the result being to deprive the Federalists of their chief weapon; it was no longer possible to take a formal vote of the legal representatives in any territory refusing to appoint deputies, and if a Czech or Slovene member did not take his seat the only result was that a single constituency was unrepresented, and the opposition weakened. The measure was strongly opposed. A petition with 250,000 names was presented from Bohemia; and the Poles withdrew from the Reichsrath when the law was introduced. But enough members remained to give the legal quorum, and it was carried by 120 to 2 votes. At the same time the number of members was increased to 353, but the proportion of representatives from the different territories was maintained and the system of election was not altered. The proportion of members assigned to the towns was increased, the special representatives of the chambers of commerce and of the landed proprietors were retained, and the suffrage was not extended. The artificial system which gave to the Germans a parliamentary majority continued.

At this time the Czechs were much weakened by quarrels Czech dissensions. among themselves. A new party had arisen, calling themselves Radicals, but generally known as the Young Czechs. They disliked the alliance with the aristocracy and the clergy; they wished for universal suffrage, and recalled the Hussite traditions. They desired to take their seats in the diet, and to join with the Germans in political reform. They violently attacked Rieger, the leader of the Old Czechs, who maintained the alliance with the Feudalists and the policy of passive opposition. Twenty-seven members of the diet led by Gregr and Stadkowsky, being outvoted in the Czech Club, resigned their seats. They were completely defeated in the elections which followed, but for the next four years the two parties among the Czechs were as much occupied in opposing one another as in opposing the Germans. These events might have secured the predominance of the Liberals for many years. The election after the reform bill gave them an increased majority in the Reichsrath. Forty-two Czechs who had won seats did not attend; forty-three Poles stood aloof from all party combination, giving their votes on each occasion as the interest of their country seemed to require; the real opposition was limited to forty Clericals and representatives of the other Slav races, who were collected on the Right under the leadership of Hohenwart. Against them were 227 Constitutionalists, and it seemed to matter little that they were divided into three groups; there were 105 in the Liberal Club under the leadership of Herbst, 57 Constitutionalists, elected by the landed proprietors, and a third body of Radicals, some of whom were more democratic than the old Constitutional party, while others laid more stress on nationality. They used their majority to carry a number of important laws regarding ecclesiastical affairs. Yet within four years the government was obliged to turn for support to the Federalists and Clericals, and the rule of the German Liberals was overthrown. Financial crisis of 1873. Their influence was indirectly affected by the great commercial crisis of 1873. For some years there had been active speculations on the Stock Exchange; a great number of companies, chiefly banks and building societies, had been founded on a very insecure basis. The inevitable crisis began in 1872; it was postponed for a short time, and there was some hope that the Exhibition, fixed for 1873, would bring fresh prosperity; the hope was not, however, fulfilled, and the final crash, which occurred in May, brought with it the collapse of hundreds of undertakings. The loss fell almost entirely on those who had attempted to increase their wealth by speculative investment. Sound industrial concerns were little touched by it, but speculation had become so general that every class of society was affected, and in the investigation which followed it became apparent that some of the most distinguished members of the governing Liberal party, including at least two members of the government, were among those who had profited by the unsound finance. It appeared also that many of the leading newspapers of Vienna, by which the Liberal party was supported, had received money from financiers. For the next two years political interest was transferred from parliament to the law courts, in which financial scandals were exposed, and the reputations of some of the leading politicians were destroyed.[1]

This was to bring about a reaction against the economic Fall of the Liberal ministry. doctrines which had held the field for nearly twenty years; but the full effect of the change was not seen for some time. What ruined the government was the want of unity in the party, and their neglect to support a ministry which had been taken from their own ranks. In a country like Austria, in which a mistaken foreign policy or a serious quarrel with Hungary might bring about the disruption of the monarchy, parliamentary government was impossible unless the party which the government helped in internal matters were prepared to support it in foreign affairs and in the commercial policy bound up with the settlement with Hungary. This the constitutional parties did not do. During discussions on the economic arrangement with Hungary in 1877 a large number voted against the duties on coffee and petroleum, which were an essential part of the agreement; they demanded, moreover, that the treaty of Berlin should be laid before the House, and 112 members, led by Herbst, gave a vote hostile to some of its provisions, and in the Delegation refused the supplies necessary for the occupation of Bosnia. They doubtless were acting in accordance with their principles, but the situation was such that it would have been impossible to carry out their wishes; the only result was that the Austrian ministers and Andrássy had to turn for help to the Poles, who began to acquire the position of a government party, which they have kept since then. At the beginning of 1879 Auersperg's resignation, which had long been offered, was accepted. The constitutionalists remained

  1. See Wirth, Geschichte der Handelskrisen (Frankfort, 1885); and an interesting article by Schäffle in the Zeitschrift f. Staatswissenschaft (Stuttgart, 1874).