Since that year the empire had been the subject of numerous experiments in government; by the last, which began in 1860, Landtage or diets have been instituted in each of the territories on a nearly uniform system and with nearly identical powers, and by the constitution published in February 1861 (the February Constitution, as it is called), which is still the ultimate basis for the government, there was instituted a Reichsrath or parliament for the whole empire; it consisted of a House of Lords (Herren- haus), in which sat the archbishops and prince bishops, members of the imperial family, and other members appointed for life, besides some hereditary members, and a Chamber of Deputies.
There was violent antipathy between the Christain Socialists and the German Nationalists, and the transference of their quarrels from the Viennese Council Chamber to the Reichsrath was very detrimental to the orderly conduct of debate.
This concession of form having been made to the Magyars without the knowledge of the Austrian government, Prince Konrad Hohenlohe, the Austrian premier, resigned office; and his successor, Baron Beck, eventually (July 6) withdrew from the table of the Reichsrath the whole Szell-Korber compact, declaring that the only remaining economic ties between the two countries were freedom of trade, the commercial treaties with foreign countries, the joint state bank and the management of excise.
In the summer of 1867, however (the Austrian Reichsrath having met), the two parliaments each elected a deputation of fifteen members to arrange the financial settlement.
When the Reichsrath met, the government had a large majority; and in the House, in which all the races except the Czechs were represented, the Ausgleich was ratified The con- almost unanimously.
Introducedbya regular Reichsrath summoned in accord ance with it, protested against the decree, and, in some cases, threatened not to take part in the elections.
Belcredi, who had come into power in 1865 as a Federalist, and had suspended the constitution of 1861 on the 2nd of January 1867, ordered new elections for the diets, which were then to elect deputies to an extraordinary Reichsrath which should consider the Ausgleich, or compact with Hungary.
Despite the fact that the Austrian Army bill had been voted by the Reichsrath (February 19), the crown consented to withdraw the bills and thus compelled the Austrian parliament to repeal, at the dictation of the Hungarian obstructionists, what it regarded as a patriotic measure.
By Beust, probably with the sympathy of the emperor; the others determined to cripple the opposition by taking away the elections for the Reichsrath from the diets.
The measure transferred the right of electing members of the Reichsrath from the diets to the direct vote of the people, the result being to deprive the Federalists of their chief weapon; it was no longer possible to take a formal vote of the legal representatives in any territory refusing to appoint deputies, and if a Czech or Slovene member did not take his seat the only result was that a single constituency was unrepresented, and the opposition weakened.