Elections to the Imperial Council 1907

Article

May 21, 2022

The elections to the Imperial Council in 1907 were held on 14 and 23 May 1907 in Předlitavsko. Members of the Chamber of Deputies (lower house) of the national parliament, the Imperial Council, were elected in them. These were historically the first elections in the Předlitavsko region according to equal and universal suffrage (for men).

Time context

Until 1907, the electoral system for the Imperial Council was based on curia, in which different groups of voters elected their representatives separately. Already Badeni's electoral reform of 1896 added a new fifth electoral curia, in which all men over the age of 24 voted, but it was still not an equal right to vote, because other curiosities (land, municipal, chambers of commerce and trade and rural municipalities) chose some groups of the population disproportionately more deputies than would correspond to their demographic strength. Since 1905, the debate on a radical change in the electoral system has intensified in Předlitavsko. It was influenced by events in Russia, where the 1905 revolution took place. The response of the revolutionary movement in Russia was a more vigorous performance of workers' parties in Předlitavsko. Demonstrations spread, and a general strike was called. The then government of Paul Gautsch submitted a proposal for electoral reform to parliament for approval in February 1906. The proposal has been the subject of heated debate. In the subsequent discussion of the specific form of the electoral law, ideological and ethnic contradictions escalated. A strong conservative Polish club opposed the government. The short-lived government of Konrad Hohenlohe attempted to reconcile the reform amicably. He finally completed the reform and in both chambers of the Imperial Council in December 1906 approved the subsequent cabinet of Max Beck. The reform was contained in four new imperial laws: Act 15/1907 of the Imperial Code newly set the number of deputies at 516 and defined the right to vote for all men over the age of 24, provided that they must be citizens of the Pre-Lithuanian region and be in the constituency for at least a year. Passive suffrage was set at 30 years, and the law explicitly stipulated that in the event of resignation or death, by-elections should be held under the same conditions. Act 16/1907 of the Imperial Code set the number of members of the upper house of parliament (the House of Lords) at a minimum of 150 and a maximum of 170. This chamber continued to be appointed, so its own elections did not affect it. Act 17/1907 of the Imperial Code defined in detail the constituency, the course and organization of elections, electoral eligibility Act 18/1907 of the Imperial Code provided for penalties for electoral violators. The territorial delimitation of constituencies followed the existing different constituencies in the curia of cities and the curia of rural municipalities. The districts were either urban or rural, and large cities did not form a single constituency with their rural background. There were also disproportions in the weight of individual votes, with about 40,000 votes in the ethnic German and Italian regions, 50,000 in Poland, 55,000 in the Czech Republic and about 100,000 in Ukraine in the election of deputies. Any changes in the electoral system and the delimitation of constituencies could only be made with the consent of two-thirds of the members of the future parliament. For example, after internal debates, Czech agrarians decided to support the reform, bringing Antonín Švehla's democratic concept to the forefront compared to the conservative, landlord's vision represented by Karel Prášek.

Election results

The elections took place on 14 and 23 May 1907 (elections were still held in Galicia in the last constituencies at the end of May). They succeeded in them