The Austrian Electoral Reform of 1907

The Austrian Electoral Reform of 1907

The Austrian Electoral Reform of 1907

The Austrian Electoral Reform of 1907

Excerpt

In 1815 the forces of nationalism and democracy which had been propagated in Europe during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic years were halted momentarily by a coalition of European powers which included Metternich's Austria. A hundred years later the Habsburg monarchy found itself involved in its last fateful struggle with these forces. This study has as its purpose the description of one of the last efforts made to reconcile nationalism and democracy with Habsburg tradition in the period preceding the final collapse of the empire.

Essentially, the problem of nationalism in the Habsburg dominions during the nineteenth century had its inception in the privileged position of Germanism in imperial affairs. Since the days of Maria Theresa and Joseph II administration was avowedly dependent upon the German or Germanized elements in the Habsburg territories; in return for services rendered, the Germans were understandably desirous of holding on to their established predominance. That predominance was temporarily challenged in 1848-49, most successfully by the Magyars; thereafter, the favored Germans were increasingly menaced by the well-developed national sentiment of Magyars, Italians, and Poles and by the gradually developing national sentiment of Czechs and other less consciously national groups whose past was being industriously revived by interested intellectuals.

The German position -- was seemingly strengthened by the Ausgleich of 1867, which surrendered to the Germans' most intransigent rivals, the Magyars, the control of the eastern part of the empire. Theoretically, the Germans could then deal effectively with the less well-organized national movements in the western part of the empire. In reality, the bargain principally increased the resentment of the Czechs, whose aspirations were far more galling to the Germans than the historic aspirations of the Poles and Italians. In the decades which fol-

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