9
Political Power-Sharing in the
Interwar Period

ALENA BARTLOVÁ

In the opening paragraphs of the American Declaration of Independence of 4 July 1776, it was emphasized that, at the point of separation of two nations which had hitherto shared one state and decided to 'dissolve the political bonds which have connected them', it is necessary to declare reasons for such an important emancipating step. The justification was needed not only for 'a decent respect to the opinions of mankind', as mentioned in the document, but also to remind later generations of important principles of liberty.1 A similar task faces the intellectuals of the two closest Slavonic peoples, the Czechs and the Slovaks, in the wake of the dissolution of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic into independent and separate Czech and Slovak Republics.

This study aims to contribute to the clarification of this problem. An attempt will be made to draw at least the broad outlines of some aspects of the differences in political and social conditions in the two territorial units of Austria-Hungary, while focusing specifically on the areas of state government, and local and regional administration; on the opportunities given to the Czech and Slovak population to participate in the government of their respective territories; and on the plans, intentions and aspirations of their political representatives. The main focus of this study will be the metamorphosis of the idea of independent state rights during the First World War, and in the initial period of coexistence of the two nations in one state. This longer time-span allows the changes to be sufficiently contrasted with the unifying and persevering themes of the important developments in the history and awareness of the two peoples.

An important milestone in the final decades of the existence of AustriaHungary was the Ausgleich of 1867, which created the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. This was an agreement in which the imperial court in Vienna, weakened by heavy defeats in the Austro-Prussian war, acceded

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