Universal and equal suffrage in Předlitavsko


May 28, 2022

Universal and equal suffrage was approved in the pre-Lithuanian part of Austria-Hungary in 1907. The reform abolished the curative system in the elections to the Imperial Council. For the first time, the new setting of the electoral system took effect in the 1907 elections.

Contemporary context and previous electoral reforms

Since the introduction of direct elections to the Imperial Council in the so-called April Constitution of 1873, the right to vote has undergone several significant reforms. After 1873, the Imperial Council had a total of 353 deputies elected in four curia (urban, rural municipalities, landlords and chambers of commerce and trade). Electoral law was limited by the electoral census, the minimum tax levy that provides for the right to vote. However, it left the number of deputies and the distribution of seats for individual curia unchanged. In the early 1990s, 15% of the male population in Předlitavsko had the right to vote. In the early 1990s, the movement for a further and far more radical reform of the electoral system intensified. In 1893, the Young Bohemians proposed the introduction of universal, equal and direct suffrage and the abolition of the Curia. The Social Democrats made similar proposals at the time. However, they were not accepted, as was Prime Minister Eduard Taaffe's proposal of October 1893. He intended to increase the number of eligible voters from 15 to 34% of the male population and introduced almost universal voting rights in urban and rural communities. 247 out of a total of 353 members were to be elected by this new system. The proposal also met with opposition in the coalition parties and led to the fall of Taaffe's government. Electoral reform was thus postponed by several years. Badeni's electoral reform was not adopted until 1896. Contrary to Taaffe's proposal of 1893, the electoral census in the existing curia did not change, but a fifth, called a general with 72 seats, was added to the four existing curia, voting on the basis of universal and equal suffrage for men. The number of deputies thus increased to 425. On May 7, 1896, the final vote took place in the Chamber of Deputies, and the reform passed with a ratio of 234: 19 votes. It was approved by the Chamber of Deputies during May, and on June 14, 1896, Emperor Francis Joseph I confirmed the right to vote in the general curia. The number of eligible voters in the Předlitavsko region increased from 1,732,257 to 5,333,431. A special law of 5 December 1896 then made a change in the existing mansions of urban and rural municipalities, where the election census was reduced from 5 gold to 4 gold (ie 8 Austro-Hungarian crowns). The new regulation was first applied in the elections to the Imperial Council in 1897 and again in the elections to the Imperial Council in 1901.

Introduction of universal and equal suffrage in Předlitavsko

The Russian Revolution of 1905 intensified the activity of workers', social democratic parties in Europe. In Předlitavsko, the promotion of universal and equal voting rights has become a major issue of Austrian social democracy. In September 1905, the party presidency issued a call for a mass movement to enforce it. In the autumn of that year, numerous workers' demonstrations took place in Předlitavsko, culminating in November 1905. On November 28, general strikes took place with the participation of 300,000 demonstrators in Vienna and more than 100,000 people in Prague. Prime Minister Paul Gautsch responded with a promise that the following year, proposals for electoral reform would be submitted to the Imperial Council.