It consisted of two chambers, the manor house and the House of Representatives . Convocation, adjournment and closure always affected both Houses of Parliament . Resolutions became law when both houses had agreed to them, the emperor had signed them as a sign of his consent and the responsible kk ministers had countersigned them . (For financial laws and recruiting, if the two houses were not in agreement, the smaller number was considered approved .) The laws were announced in the name of the emperor in the Reichsgesetzblatt . In addition to the Imperial Council, the diets of the Crown Lands of Cisleithania had only limited legislative powers.
Since December 4, 1883, the seat of the Reichsrat has been the parliament building on Ringstrasse in Vienna , which is today the meeting place of the Austrian parliament . Before that, the House of Representatives only had a provisional seat in a wooden building - ironically called Schmerling Theater - on Währinger Strasse in Vienna's 9th district .
History of origin
Revolutionary year 1848 / Constitution imposed 1849
After the March Revolution of 1848, the Pillersdorf constitution of April 25, 1848 transferred the legislation to a Reichstag composed of two chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives was elected by men, although workers and those in need of support were not eligible to vote. On May 16, 1848, after revolutionary protests, this constitution was declared provisional and withdrawn entirely in July 1848. The Reichstag was the only institution from the October 1849 constitution that was actually set up. In the original form it was not a parliament, but the imperial cabinet , an advisory body of the emperor, to which the emperor himself appointed the members. This cabinet was dissolved in 1861 and re-established as the Council of State , but dissolved in 1868 in favor of the common ministry (Council of Ministers) .
October diploma 1860
In 1860, Emperor Franz Joseph had to make concessions to the upper middle class striving for co-determination in the state, so that the financially strong circles would support his policy; the financial crisis of the Habsburg monarchy had almost returned to the frightening proportions of the pre-March period . An at least ostensible return to constitutionalism was therefore inevitable for the emperor.
The first step was the expansion of the advisory Reichsrat to include additional members, who were to be elected from the ranks of the Landtag members by the newly formed Landtag. Their number was set at 100 in October 1860. On October 20, 1860, the emperor promised with the so-called October diploma that the Imperial Council would only deal with the common affairs of all kingdoms and countries (at that time still including Hungary), but that only the state parliaments would have an advisory vote on all other matters. This federal design corresponded to the ideas of the conservatives of the time when the large landed nobility set the tone.
February patent 1861
The program of the October diploma could not be implemented against the resistance of the bourgeoisie. The Liberals wanted a real parliamentary constitution. Their political ideas corresponded to a number of constitutional laws which the emperor put into effect on February 26, 1861 and which in their entirety were called the February patent .
The new Reichsrat (still responsible for the entire monarchy) now became a real parliament, which, in addition to the emperor (veto right), was also responsible for deciding on imperial legislation. The Reichsrat of 1861 was structured according to the bicameral system ( mansion and chamber of representatives appointed by the state parliaments ). The Chamber of Deputies consisted of 343 members appointed by the Diets of the Crown Lands , 120 of them from the countries of the Holy Hungarian Crown and 20 from the Lombardy-Venetian Kingdom . In addition to common matters, the Reichsrat had general responsibility, as it was also responsible for all matters that had not been assigned to the competence of the individual regional parliaments by the state regulations. This February constitution, which included Hungary and Croatia in its scope, failed due to resistance from Hungary, whose politicians demanded statehood with a separate Hungarian constitution.
Hungary leaves the Austrian state in 1867
As a result of the war of 1866, Prussia forced the German states of the Danube Monarchy as well as Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia to leave the German Confederation . The remaining part of Lombardy-Veneto was ceded to Italy . The emperor, politically weakened as a result, saw himself moved in 1867 to settle with Hungary in the sense of a real union of two states.
This settlement, which was politically pacted in the spring of 1867, gave the states of St. Stephen's Crown sovereignty in domestic politics and their own Reichstag; From May 1867 on, only the states on this side of the Leitha were represented in both chambers of the Imperial Council. These were subsequently not legally referred to as Austrian states until 1915, but rather described as the kingdoms and states represented in the Reichsrat and called Cisleithanien for short in legal German .
December Constitution 1867
In the same year the Austrian half of the empire received a new constitution, again in the form of several individual laws (so-called December constitution of December 21, 1867). The constitutional state law on the representation of the empire in the version of 1861 was incorporated into the new constitution, but no longer referred to the countries of the Hungarian crown and the lost Lombardy-Veneto, so that 203 members remained. The House of Representatives was initially appointed by the state parliaments, but since the electoral reform of 1873 it was directly elected according to class suffrage.
Legislative periods, competencies
The House of Representatives and the Manor House deliberated in twelve legislative periods (LP) from 1861 to 1918 , which correlated with the Reichsrat elections carried out for the House of Representatives. In these legislative periods both houses took place, which were ended by adjournment of the Reichsrat when there were problems that could not be resolved in parliament and the Imperial and Royal Government believed that it could only get ahead through imperial decrees; This was last the case in the spring of 1914. The 22 sessions were numbered from 1861 to 1918. The V. LP (1873–1879), the VI. LP (1879–1885), the VII. LP (1885–1891), the VIII. LP (1891–1897) and the X. LP (1901–1907). They face very short legislative periods (e.g. III. LP, 1870/1871) and the IX. Legislative period that split into five sessions due to four adjournments of the Reichsrat in the three years 1897-1900. The length of the sessions depended on the House of Representatives. If this was postponed, the mansion was also not allowed to meet.
The two chambers of the Reichsrat had the right to legislate and tax approval, but the government was not responsible to parliament, but to the emperor, who installed and removed them without the Reichsrat being able to influence this. In terms of competence, the Reichsrat was responsible for all affairs of Cisleithania, with the exception of the army and navy shared with Hungary, the foreign policy shared with Hungary and the financing of these two areas shared between Austria and Hungary (see Kuk shared ministries ).
The Imperial and Royal Government first had to submit the draft budget and other financial proposals, as well as applications for the sale of state property, for the assumption of public debt and for the recruitment contingent to the House of Representatives. She could also submit all other bills to the manor first, if she saw fit. If no agreement was reached between the two houses of the Reichsrat in a finance law or in the recruits law (on the amount of the contingent to be levied ), the lower number was considered approved under Section 13 of the Basic Law on Reich Representation of 1867 .
The mansion consisted of the following categories of members:
- from the appointed archdukes (i.e. the archdukes of legal age)
- from the archbishops and those bishops who had princely rank
- from members of the "wealthy local nobility" (i.e. the heads of those noble families to whom the emperor had bestowed the "hereditary imperial council dignity")
- from Austrian citizens who were appointed by the emperor for service to the state and church, science and art for life.
The mansion met for the first time on April 29, 1861. It met provisionally until 1883 in the meeting room of the Lower Austrian Parliament in the Landhaus in Vienna's Herrengasse . On December 4, 1883 (as in the House of Representatives) the first meeting took place in the newly built Imperial and Royal Council building . The hall was destroyed by bombs in 1945; Today, in its place is the meeting room of the Austrian National Council built in the post-war period.
Among the mansion members appointed by the emperor were z. E.g. the glass industrialist Ludwig Lobmeyr and the cotton entrepreneur Nikolaus Dumba , both of whom also emerged as patrons of the arts, the Styrian poet Peter Rosegger and the beer industrialists Anton Dreher junior and Adolf Ignaz Mautner von Markhof .
In 1911, for example, the individual categories were divided into: 14 archdukes, 18 (arch) bishops (namely 5 prince-archbishops, 5 other archbishops, 8 prince-bishops), 90 members of the wealthy local nobility, 169 members appointed for life. They were all men. The president of the manor was supported in his work by two vice-presidents.
Since 1907, members of the manor could also run for the House of Representatives.
The last president of the manor until November 12, 1918 was Prince Alfred III. zu Windisch-Grätz , the last two vice-presidents were Prince Max Egon II. zu Fürstenberg and Prince Ferdinand von Lobkowitz .
House of Representatives
The House of Representatives, at that time still responsible for the entire monarchy, met for the first time on April 29, 1861, like the manor house. In 1867, the number of representatives to be sent by the state parliaments was set at 203 in the December constitution; 54 of these were in Bohemia , 38 in Galicia , Lodomeria and Krakow , 22 in Moravia and 18 in Austria under the Enns .
The meetings took place until 1883 in the temporary building on Währinger Strasse in Vienna. The historic meeting room of the House of Representatives in the newly built parliament building, which last offered space for 516 members from Bukovina to Dalmatia , was used for a meeting for the first time on December 4, 1883. Today the hall is normally only used for the sessions of the Federal Assembly on the occasion of the inauguration of the Federal President and for other state acts at which both chambers of parliament are assembled.
Curia election from 1873
The number of MPs was increased from 203 to 353 in 1873 at the request of the Adolf von Auersperg Ministry . Instead of mandates, direct elections for a six-year term have taken place since the electoral reform of 1873. The right to vote for the curia was applied. The voters were classified into four curiae according to their status and wealth. The curia of large landowners consisted of 85 members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry 21, large and medium-sized farmers (rural communities) elected 128 and all other male citizens living in cities who were able to pay at least 10 guilders per year (five guilders from 1882) direct taxes elect 118 MPs in the fourth curia. This corresponded to a total of 6% of the adult population.
On June 14, 1896, the number of MPs was increased to 425 and a fifth, general class of voters was introduced, in which all men were eligible to vote (see below). On the occasion of the abolition of the right to vote in a curia, the number of representatives was increased to 516 on January 21, 1907.
General, equal male suffrage
On October 10, 1893, an electoral reform to abolish the fourth curia and introduce universal suffrage for the third curia failed.
In 1896, Prime Minister Badeni was able to introduce a fifth, general electoral class for all male citizens over the age of 24, who was able to send 72 of the 425 seats to the House of Representatives.
During the last reform of the monarchy's electoral law in 1906 by Prime Minister Paul Gautsch , universal, equal, secret and direct suffrage was introduced for all men, and in 1907 516 members were elected. Of these, 130 were in Bohemia, 106 in Galicia, 64 in Austria under the Enns and 49 in Moravia. In 1911 the last Reichsrat elections took place with universal male suffrage.
Both elections reinforced the trend towards the new mass parties: in 1907 the Christian Socials and in 1911 the Social Democrats became the strongest group. In 1917 the term of office of the MPs elected in 1911 was extended due to the war.
The negotiations of the Reichsrat were often shaped by the disputes of the numerous parties and groups of nationalities, which regularly only affected two nationalities. Under these conditions, it was very difficult to organize a majority in support of the government (which did not depend on the trust of the Reichsrat). The Imperial Council was repeatedly suspended by the Emperor on the proposal of the government because of the escalating national conflicts.
Parliament and government
In the years 1867 to 1879 the German Liberal Party had a majority in the House of Representatives of the Reichsrat. It provided the governments of the Prime Ministers Karl Wilhelm Philipp von Auersperg and Adolf Carl Daniel von Auersperg . With its decline, the German dominance in the Reichsrat ended.
The government of Count Eduard von Taaffe was based on the German-Austrian clericals and the Czech and Polish conservatives from 1879 to 1893. In 1882 it lowered the census limit for eligibility to vote from 10 to 5 guilders tax payments per year. Fiercely fought by the radical national parties, Taaffe failed in an attempt to introduce almost universal suffrage.
After 1893, no government was able to win the constant support of the majority in the House of Representatives.
Parliament and Emperor
Emperor Franz Joseph , who initially ruled absolutely , was for a long time suspicious of parliamentarism, which he had to concede to the growing bourgeoisie . But he strictly adhered to the constitution that he sanctioned. The gradual expansion of the right to vote had to be laboriously wrested from the skeptical emperor in the 19th century by the respective governments.
The repeatedly passed imperial resolutions to adjourn the Reichsrat did not arise from absolutist impulses, but were made at the suggestion of the Imperial and Royal Government when the Reichsrat was unable to deliberate and make decisions due to obstruction, mostly by Czech MPs .
Franz Joseph only visited the parliament building twice, in 1879 at the topping-out ceremony and in January 1884 shortly after the building started operating. The deputies had to listen to the speeches from the throne in the Hofburg . In doing so, the court tried to uphold the fiction that the emperor was still the actual ruler, as the stereotypical introduction of the passed laws suggested: With the consent of both houses of the Reichsrat, I would like to order as follows ...
After the Russian Revolution of 1905, the Kaiser changed his attitude towards parliament and actively pursued the introduction of universal male suffrage, as was demanded by the Social Democrats in large-scale demonstrations, together with his Prime Minister Max Wladimir von Beck . Heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand opposed this in 1906 with aristocratic landowners and wanted to overturn the reform in the manor house; the emperor threatened to let his two chief stewards, Rudolf Prince Liechtenstein and Alfred Prince Montenuovo , speak for the reform in the manor house. The electoral reform came into effect in 1907.
Due to the dualistic state structure of the overall monarchy in the sense of a real union, the Reichsrat could not influence the common affairs of the two halves of the Reich (foreign and defense policy) in plenary meetings of its two houses.
Due to the compromise of 1867, the so-called delegations of the Austrian Reichsrat and the Hungarian Reichstag , each with 60 members, were called to make parliamentary decisions on common matters (the Austrian delegation was elected from both houses of the Reichsrat: 40 members, 20 members of the manor house).
They discussed the drafts of the joint Council of Ministers at the same time, but separately at Hungary's request: the cisleithan delegation in German, the transleithan delegation in Hungarian. Bills were only accepted if they achieved a majority in both delegations, assessed separately. (The rule in §§ 31–33 Delegations Act that if the two delegations failed to reach an agreement three times there could be a joint meeting at which the up to 120 votes would be jointly evaluated, was never applied.) The legislative resolutions of the delegations were announced in the legal gazettes of Austria and Hungary.
The delegations met spatially separated, but in the same city so that the common ministers or their representatives could be present in both delegations: alternately in Vienna and Budapest . So found z. For example, the 1912 and 1914 sessions took place in Budapest, the 1913 session in Vienna.
Rules of Procedure
The rules of procedure of the House of Representatives often made effective parliamentary work impossible. Each MEP could speak in his or her mother tongue (as in the European Parliament ), but there were no interpreters and speaking time was not limited. Only German statements were recorded for the record.
Speeches that lasted for hours were held by MPs who wanted to prevent or delay votes; sometimes they recited poems that only members of parliament with the same mother tongue could understand. The noise with ratchets and tinkles and fistfights among the members of parliament were not uncommon. With this obstruction particularly Czech deputies stood out, who fundamentally denied the competence of the Imperial Council for Bohemia and Moravia .
It was not least these deficiencies in the way it worked that exposed the Reichsrat to constant criticism from democratic and anti-democratic forces. During his time in Vienna 1907–1913, Adolf Hitler often attended the meetings of the Reichsrat as a listener, the course of which confirmed his rejection of both the multi-ethnic state of Austria-Hungary and parliamentarism itself.
The Reichsrat had been postponed on March 16, 1914 by the Kaiser at the suggestion of the Imperial and Royal Stürgkh government ; When the decision to go to war was pending in July 1914, the Reichsrat was not consulted. Parliament remained out of action for three years; the dictatorship caused Friedrich Adler to shoot Stürgkh on October 21, 1916. Franz Joseph's successor, Karl I , convened the Reichsrat on May 30, 1917, but did not postpone it until the end of the monarchy, with the exception of the period from May 4 to July 16, 1918.
In these last 17 months of the Reichsrat came next to budget and war tax resolutions u. a. the following laws:
- On June 11, 1917, the House of Representatives passed new rules of procedure.
- On June 16, 1917, the term of office of the MPs elected in 1911 was extended to December 31, 1918.
- On July 24, 1917, the Reichsrat, on the proposal of the Imperial and Royal Seidler government, passed what lawyers would later call the War Economic Enabling Act (KWEG). When it was incorporated into German Austria's legal framework , it was forgotten to transfer the controlling participation of the Reichsrat to the republican parliament. This enabled the Federal Government of Dollfuss in 1933/1934 to present the establishment of the corporate state dictatorship as legal through abuse of the KWEG.
- At the end of December 1917 it was decided to establish accident insurance for miners and a ministry for social welfare, and in July 1918 a ministry for public health was set up.
- On August 18, 1918, the Reichsrat decided that those acquitted by a court are entitled to compensation for remand detention.
- The last law published in the Reichsgesetzblatt concerned the price increases for teachers at elementary and community schools that were passed on August 26, 1918.
House of Representatives
At the first session of the war, on May 30, 1917, after reading out the documents and reports received from the Imperial and Royal Government on decisions taken since 1914, but before they were put on the agenda, members of parliament gave statements on the political intentions of the Cisleithani nationalities after the war ; a largely anticipation of what actually happened in October / November 1918.
In October 1918 the Chamber of Deputies held very lively sessions at which MPs of all nationalities (from Galicia to Trentino ) discussed the failings of the Imperial and Royal governments and the problems of the collapse of the previous state and the defection of Hungary. It was stated that the House was no longer facing a viable government and that as a member of the parliament, one would soon continue to work in other parliaments. Forces loyal to the state wanted to use the Reichsrat to create rules for the fair division of old Austria; the politicians in the new power centers of the successor states had long since taken the reins into their own hands. The October 30th session was adjourned to November 12th after two minutes.
Parallel to the sessions of the House of Representatives, the 208 elected members of the Reichsrat from the predominantly German-populated areas of Cisleithania met for the first time on October 21, 1918, as a provisional national assembly for German Austria in the Lower Austrian Landhaus in Vienna. With the election of the first German-Austrian government on October 30, 1918, they constituted the new state.
Polish members of the Reichsrat who worked with the National Committee in Warsaw declared on October 24, 1918 that further parliamentary work in Vienna would be pointless for them. Czech politicians founded the Czechoslovak Republic in Prague on October 28, 1918 . The next day the southern Slavs of Cisleithania broke away from Austria. South Tyrol and Trieste were occupied by Italy from November 3, 1918.
On November 12, 1918, the day after Karl renounced “any share in state affairs ” and the last kk government under Heinrich Lammasch , the House of Representatives under President Gustav Groß held its last session at 11:15 am; it consisted only of a mourning rally for the chairman of the Social Democrats, Victor Adler , who had died the day before , and a speech by the president. Only twelve non-German MPs still took part. Since the constitution did not provide for self-dissolution, the President's proposal not to set a date for another meeting was accepted. Four hours later, the Provisional National Assembly for German Austria, which met for the first time in the parliament building and took possession of it for the new state, decided that the state was a republic and part of the German republic. All members of the Reichsrat were informed that they would receive their diets until the statutory expiry of their term of office, which was extended due to the war, i.e. until December 31, 1918.
In February 1919, the constituent national assembly was elected in what is now Austria, but without Burgenland , which was still Hungarian at the time , the first in which all women were also entitled to vote. Its main task was to draw up a definitive republican constitution . This was decided in autumn 1920; shortly afterwards the first national council election took place; the legislative body, consisting of directly elected representatives, now formed the first chamber of parliament.
In its meeting on October 24, 1918, the manor house discussed in detail the situation created by the Imperial Manifesto of October 16. a. Ottokar von Czernin , Leon Biliński and Ignaz von Plener spoke. Since the Imperial and Royal Government is now completely powerless, it is urgent that the newly emerging nation states receive governments capable of acting as quickly as possible.
On October 30, 1918, the new Lammasch cabinet , the so-called liquidation ministry , should have been presented in the manor house. Since Lammasch stated in writing that he was not ready for the performance, the meeting was closed after five minutes; the next meeting would be called in writing. In the printed index of the stenographic minutes it was noted that the manor house had been abolished by law of November 12, 1918 (a law of the Provisional National Assembly for German Austria).
The activities of the Austrian and Hungarian delegations to discuss common matters came to an end when Hungary, with the consent of the monarch, canceled the settlement of 1867 on October 31, 1918. From that day on, the three joint ministries and the joint Supreme Audit Office were only liquidating institutions (see Liquidation of the Foreign Ministry ).
The Reichsrat passed some laws which in the new, small Austria were often still in force decades after the end of the monarchy or which still stand today. The constitutional law of December 21, 1867 on the general rights of citizens for the kingdoms and states represented in the Reichsrathe, in an amended form, has constitutional status to this day .
For the first generation of politicians in the successor states, the Reichsrat often functioned as a kind of school in parliamentarianism. Top politicians such as Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk , founding president of Czechoslovakia, Karl Renner and Michael Mayr , 1918–1920 State Chancellor of the new Republic of Austria, and Alcide Degasperi , after the Second World War Italian Prime Minister and Austria's negotiating partner on the South Tyrol problem , had previously been elected members of the Reichsrat.
Shorthand minutes, which are available in printed form, were kept of the meetings of both houses of the Reichsrat. Since simultaneous translations were not available at the time and stenographers in other languages were not available, only contributions to the debate in German could be recorded. If Czech MPs occasionally gave speeches in Czech to protest that the Imperial Council was also responsible for the countries of the Bohemian Crown , these were therefore not recorded. The stenographic minutes contain in the appendix all applications made as well as lists of members of parliament, members of the manor house and parliamentary officials. The Austrian National Library has digitized these printed works and, like the Reichsgesetzblatt, makes them available for reading on the web as the official publication organ of the laws passed by the Reichsrat.
- (RGBl. = Imperial Law Gazette for the Austrian Empire, published 1852 to 1869, or for the kingdoms and countries represented in the Imperial Council, published 1870 to 1918)
- ALEX Online ). announced. No. 22/1861 (EReader,
- RGBl. No. 20/1861 (= p. 69 ff.)
- Legislative periods and sessions of the Reichsrat
- Stenographic minutes of the opening meeting of the Lords House of the Reichsrathes
- Stenographic minutes of the opening session of the House of Representatives of the Reichsrathes
- RGBl. No. 141/1867 (= p. 389)
- Friedrich Weissensteiner: Franz Ferdinand. The prevented ruler , Österr. Bundesverlag, Vienna 1983, ISBN 3-215-04828-0 , p. 164 f.
- Wiener Zeitung v. May 4, 1918 and v. June 29, 1918
- RGBl. No. 253/1917 (= p. 643)
- RGBl. No. 300/1917 (= p. 729)
- RGBl. No. 307/1917 (= p. 739 f.)
- RGBl. No. 277/1918 (= p. 708)
- RGBl. No. 318/1918 (= p. 882)
- RGBl. No. 319/1918 (= p. 883)
- Stenographic minutes of the meeting of the House of Representatives on May 30, 1917, p. 33 f.
- Oesterreichischer Reichsrat in: Tageszeitung Neue Freie Presse , Vienna, No. 19475, November 12, 1918, Abendblatt, p. 2
- Oesterreichischer Reichsrat in: Tageszeitung Neue Freie Presse , Vienna, No. 19475, November 12, 1918, Abendblatt, p. 2
- Shorthand minutes of the meeting of the manor house on October 24, 1918
- Consolidated version in the legal information system of the Federal Chancellery
- ALEX Historical legal and legal texts online
- Berthold Sutter, Ernst Bruckmüller : The Reichsrat, the parliament of the western half of Austria-Hungary (1861-1918) . In: Ernst Bruckmüller (Ed.): Parliamentarism in Austria (= writings of the Institute for Austrian Studies , 64). Vienna 2001, pp. 60-109, ISBN 3-209-03811-2 .
- Wilhelm Brauneder : Austrian constitutional history . 9. through Ed., Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-214-14874-5 .
- Brigitte Hamann: Hitler's Vienna. Apprenticeship as a dictator . Piper, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-492-03598-1 (contains a chapter on the sessions of the Reichsrat).
- G. Kolmer: Parliament and Constitution in Austria 1848–1918. 8 volumes. Vienna 1920 ff.
- Gerhard Silvestri (Hrsg.): Negotiations of the Austrian strengthened Reichsrathes 1860. According to the shorthand reports. (Reprint) with introduction and supplemented biographical notes, 2 volumes, Vienna 1972.
- Herbert Schambeck : Austrian Parliamentarism , Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1986, ISBN 978-3-428-06098-6 .