Imperial Council (Austria)


May 20, 2022

The Reich Council (German Reichsrat) was the highest legislature of the Austrian Empire, operating from 1861 to 1918 (after the adoption of the Austro-Hungarian settlement in 1867, it was the legislature of the pre-Lithuanian part of Austria-Hungary). She was based in Vienna. Its establishment was established by the February Constitution in 1861. Until the adoption of the April Constitution, it was elected indirectly by the state assemblies, and direct elections were subsequently introduced. It was a bicameral parliament, consisting of an elected Chamber of Deputies and an unelected House of Lords. The electoral system for the Chamber of Deputies was initially curiosity, with an electoral census, later the right to vote was extended by a series of reforms, and in 1907 universal and equal suffrage for men was introduced. In the 1960s and 1970s, the German Liberal Centralist Constitutional Party dominated the Reich Council, and later the composition of the Reichstag's Chamber of Deputies increasingly reflected the fragmented national, class, and ideological character of the population.

History up to 1860

Reichstag 1848-1849

The first national legislature of the Austrian Empire was established during the revolutionary year of 1848, when the so-called April Constitution (also the Pillersdorf Constitution) of April 25, 1848 established the constitutional Reichstag whose deputies were elected in the June 1848 elections. It was to be a nationwide unicameral legislature with an imperial right of veto. On June 22, 1848, they began a meeting in Vienna, which then continued from November 1848 after moving from the capital as the so-called Kroměříž Assembly. However, the emperor dissolved it on March 7, 1849, on the grounds that he lacked Hungarian delegates, and issued the so-called March or Octrown Constitution. It presupposed a bicameral Reichstag, but was abolished in 1851 by so-called New Year's Eve patents. Until 1859, the emperor ruled as an absolute monarch without parliamentary control.

Multiplied Imperial Council

In 1859, Prime Minister Alexander Bach had to abdicate for failure, and the neo-absolutist system began to undergo reforms. On March 5, 1860, the Multiplied Imperial Council was convened as an advisory (not legislative) body to the monarch. It met from May to September 1860. It had 60 members. On July 17, he also acquired certain decision-making competencies. At the end of September, she proposed changes in the political system consisting in a return to historical individualities, especially the autonomy of individual crown countries.

Establishment of the Imperial Council in 1861

The October diploma of 1860 issued by the emperor presupposed the restoration of the constitutional system of government, the establishment of a national parliament and extensive territorial autonomy. In 1861, the emperor issued the so-called February Constitution. It established a bicameral Imperial Council. Thus Austria became a constitutional monarchy. The Reich Council consisted of two chambers: Chambers of Deputies of the Imperial Council, lower house, elected, indirectly until 1873, then in direct elections House of Lords, upper house, unelected, partly occupied for life by appointment from the monarch.

Composition and powers of the Chamber of Deputies of the Imperial Council

According to the February Constitution of 1861, the Chamber of Deputies of the Imperial Council was conceived as wider and narrower. The broader Imperial Council (343 members) was to represent all the crown countries of the monarchy, the narrower Imperial Council (203 members) was not to include deputies for the Lombard-Venetian Kingdom and the Land of St. Stephen's Crown. The broader Imperial Council was to address issues common to the entire monarchy. In fact, however, parliament has never met in this broad plenary. Out of 343 deputies, only 200 of them attended. Neither Veneto nor the Hungarian countries