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and dialects that are spoken in the land. Among the many races that inhabit Austria there are, however, only five important enough to have a marked influence on politics. These are: first, the Germans, who comprise scarcely more than a third of the population, but possess a much larger share of the wealth and culture. They are scattered more or less thickly all through the country, and predominate along the Danube and in the provinces immediately to the south of it. Second, the Bohemians, or Czechs, who are the next most powerful race, and compose a majority of the people in Bohemia and Moravia. Third, the Poles, who form a compact mass in Galicia. Fourth, the Slowenians and other Slavs, living chiefly in the southern provinces in the direction of Triest. And fifth, the Italians, who are to be found in the southern part of the Tyrol, and in the seaports along the Adriatic. The numbers of the various races in Austria, according to the census of December 31, 1890, are as follows:

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The division of the people into several different races is one of the most important factors in Austrian poli

The consti

tics, and we shall return to it when we come to consider the actual working of the government; but tution. first the political organization of the country must be explained. When this was remodeled after the war with Prussia, five statutes-all bearing the date of December 21, 1867-were passed, and termed the Staatsgrundgesetze, or fundamental laws of the state.1 They are, in fact, the constitution of Austria, and can be changed only by a two thirds vote of both Houses of Parliament. As they were all enacted on the same day, there is no obvious reason why they might not have been embodied in a single document, especially since they cover the same ground as the constitutions of other countries. One of them, that on the general rights of citizens, consists of a bill of rights, while the rest deal with the organization and powers of the different public authorities in the state. In considering these, the simplest and clearest order will be to take up first the executive and then the legislative branch of the central government, turning afterwards to the provincial institutions, which play a very important part in the politics of the Empire.

1 Ulbrich, pp. 11, 16; Gumplowicz, §§ 25-27. These five laws are commonly cited by their titles, which indicate their contents. They are as follows: (1) Staatsgrundgesetz über die Reichsvertretung (R. G. B. 141. Printed with the amendments of April 2, 1873, inserted in the text, in Geller, Bd. I. p. 78). (2) St. G. über die allgemeinen Rechte der Staatsbürger (R. G. B. 142; Geller, Bd. II. pp. 1, 419, and Bd. I. p. 659). (3) St. G. über das Reichsgericht (R. G. B. 143; Geller, Bd. I. p. 847). (4) St. G. über die Richterlichegewalt (R. G. B. 144; Geller, Bd. I. p. 846). (5) St. G. über die Regierungs- und Vollzugsgewalt (R. G. B. 145; Geller, Bd. I. p. 872).

• That is a vote of two thirds of the members present. One hundred members constitute a quorum of the lower house in other cases, but for this purpose the presence of one half the members is required. St. G. Reichsvertretung (as amended by the Act of April 2, 1873), § 15.


The transmission of the crown in Austria is treated to an unusual extent as something lying quite The crown. outside the scope of the fundamental laws; Rules of and although the rules of succession and the provisions about regency would doubtless not be changed to-day without the consent of Parliament, they have never been formally incorporated in the constitution. The rules of descent rest entirely on former imperial rescripts, and especially on the Pragmatic Sanction of December 6, 1724.1 This famous ordinance, issued by Charles VI. to enable his daughter Maria Theresa to succeed him, has made the canons of inheritance somewhat peculiar, for women are neither admitted to the throne as freely as in England, nor absolutely excluded according to the strict rules of the so-called Salic law as in most of the continental monarchies. The succession follows primarily the principle known in the English Common Law as tail male, that is, the crown passes only to male heirs, who trace their descent entirely through males. But if these fail, the succession goes by tail general; in other words, the nearest female heir or her descendant inherits. In such a case, however, the new sovereign starts a fresh line, so that the crown again passes by tail male, and only when the direct male heirs of the new line are exhausted can a woman again ascend the throne. But although by law the succession is strictly hereditary, the next heir does

1 Geller, Bd. I. p. 3. This ordinance is commonly spoken of as a fundamental law (cf. Ulbrich, pp. 8, 18), but it is not mentioned among the acts for whose amendment a two thirds vote of the Reichsrath is required. St. G. Reichsvertretung, § 15.

2 See Ulbrich, pp. 18-19.

not always succeed to the crown. Thus the present Emperor, Francis Joseph, was not himself the nearest heir, and it seems to be assumed that on his death the first of the archdukes is likely to be passed over in favor of a younger member of the family. This is done by means of the voluntary abdication of the person entitled to succeed,—a right which is universally recognized in continental countries, but more freely used in Austria than elsewhere.

Powers of the Emperor.




The powers of the Emperor are legally much the same as in other constitutional monarchies. His sanction is required for the enactment of laws. He has power to make treaties; 2 to issue ordinances; to appoint the officials; to create peers; to grant pardons and amnesties; and to summon, adjourn, and dissolve the various legislative bodies. The fundamental laws declare that he governs by means of responsible ministers, and by statute all his acts must be countersigned by a minister of state." The countersignature of all the ministers is, moreover, required for those ordinances which proclaim 1 St. G. Reichsvertretung, § 13.

2 Subject to the approval of the Reichsrath in certain cases. See infra.

3 St. G. Reichsvertretung, § 14; St. G. Regierungsgewalt, § 11.

4 St. G. Regierungsgewalt, § 3.

St. G. Reichsvertretung, §§ 3, 5.

• St. G. Richterlichegewalt, § 13.

p. 89,

For the Reichsrath, see St. G. Reichsvertretung, §§ 10, 19. For the provincial Landtags, see the various Landesverordnungen annexed to the Patent of Feb. 26, 1861, e. g. that for Lower Austria (Geller, Bd. I. p. 125), §§ 8, 10.

8 St. G. Regierungsgewalt, § 2.

• Law of July 25, 1867, § 1. (R. G. B. 101; Geller, Bd. I. p. 873.)

the state of siege, suspend the constitutional rights of the citizen, or are issued with the force of provisional laws in case of urgent necessity when the legislature is not in session

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Practically, however, the ministers are the servants of the crown and not of the parliament, and hence the Emperor of Austria can really use his powers with great freedom. This result is due to the incessant quarrels between the different races, which are too bitterly hostile to combine, while no one of them is strong enough to rule alone, a state of things that makes it easy for the government to play them off against each other, and have its own way. In theory the parliamentary system is in force, but in practice the Emperor is so far from being a figurehead that since the present constitution was adopted he has actually refused to sanction a bill passed by both Houses of Parliament. If we compare his position with that of the German Emperor we shall find that although the forms of parliamentary government are more closely followed at Vienna than at Berlin, yet, owing to his ability to manage the popular chamber, Francis Joseph is in fact quite as independent of popular control as William II.

Of the legal status of the ministers, little need be said, because their position in Austria is not The minispeculiar. They have the usual right to speak ters. in either of the houses, and can address the commit

1 As usual, ordinances of this last kind lose their force after the meeting of the Parliament, unless that body consents to ratify them. St. G. Reichsvertretung, § 14; and see Ulbrich, pp. 115-16.

2 This was the bill on Monastic Orders passed by the Reichsrath in 1876.

St. G. Reichsvertretung, § 20.

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