Count Kasimir Felix Badeni
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Kasimir Felix Graf Badeni
|13th Minister-President of Cisleithania|
30 September 1895 – 28 November 1897
|Monarch||Franz Joseph I|
|Preceded by||Erich Graf von Kielmansegg|
|Succeeded by||Paul Gautsch Freiherr von Frankenthurn|
14 October 1846|
|Died||9 July 1909
Count Kasimir Felix Badeni (German: Kasimir Felix Graf von Badeni, Polish: Kazimierz Feliks hrabia Badeni) (October 14, 1846 – July 9, 1909) was Minister-President of the Austrian half of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1895 until 1897. Many people in Austria, especially Emperor Franz Joseph, had placed great hope in Badeni's ability to solve some of the Empire's constitutional problems, but he disappointed them.
The ethnic Polish aristocrat Badeni, born in Galicia, had served as governor of that province, during which time he played a key role in the rapprochement between the Polish elite and the Ruthenians that came to be known as the "New Era". He was devoted to the Empire and the Emperor and was a firm conservative, which combined with his successes in Galicia impressed Emperor Franz Joseph.
He came to power in Austria after the failure of Minister-President Alfred III zu Windisch-Grätz's coalition ministry of conservative and liberals. In 1896 he succeeded in implementing a form of universal male suffrage but made it palatable to the ruling interests of the Empire. To the previous four classes of voters, which depended on the amount of taxes each individual paid, his reform added a fifth class to include every adult male below the five-guilder threshold set for the fourth class in the 1882 Taaffe reform.
Keenly aware of the growing tensions within the Empire due to ethnic rivalries and the political agitation of socialists and nationalists, Badeni expressed doubt as to the ability of Austria-Hungary to wage war effectively. He claimed "a state of nationalities cannot wage war without danger to itself."
Badeni courted controversy when, in an attempt to gain the support of the Young Czech faction in the Reichsrat, he addressed the language issue in Bohemia. His ordinance of April 5, 1897, declared "that Czech and German should be the languages of the 'inner service' throughout Bohemia." This meant that civil servants in the province would have to know both Czech and German, since government business would be conducted in both languages for internal Bohemian affairs. Germans in Bohemia were outraged, since this effectively excluded the majority of them from government jobs; Czechs learned German in school, but Germans had usually little to no knowledge of the Czech language.
Late-19th-century Germans in Austria-Hungary, as a general rule, wanted the Empire to maintain its German character established during the period of forcible Germanization in the 17th and 18th century, so they resisted the demands of the other ethnic groups for linguistic recognition. Badeni's ordinance was seen by Germans as the "last straw" in a series of concessions. Badeni was not prepared for the level of animosity the Germans in Bohemia and elsewhere in the Empire directed at him due to his reform.
The fringe German Nationalist Party, headed by Georg Schönerer, hoping to destabilize the Empire and join the German lands of Austria to the new German Empire, disrupted parliamentary proceedings and instigated violent protests. Although most Germans of Austria had no sympathy for the Nationalist Party's cause, they participated in street protests across the Austro-Hungarian Empire, hoping to have the ordinance repealed. Obstructionism by German nationalists slowed or stopped parliamentary business in the Reichsrat and riots erupted in Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, and the alpine provinces. Riots took place also in Prague and martial law was put into effect there.
Amidst this political turmoil, in November 1897, Emperor Franz Joseph, frightened by the mass agitation of some of the most important segments of society, dismissed Badeni. His fall, however, did not end the political and ethnic problems within the Empire and for several years, while the Reichsrat met occasionally, the government ruled largely through emergency decree. Badeni's language ordinances were repealed in 1899, disappointing Czechs and failing to appease German nationalists.
Some commentators of the time felt, that Badeni was unaccustomed to the political dynamics of the more-industrialized western part of the Empire; he was used to the provincial social relations of Galicia, where he was a landowner. That was given as an explanation for Badeni's political blunder. In fact Badeni believed that the Czechs were growing as a nation and their national ambitions would sooner or later have to be accommodated within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as the ambitions of the Hungarians had been decades previously. Badeni was one of the few politicians who saw that without rapprochement between different nations within the Austro-Hungarian state, the Empire would fall apart.
- Rothenburg, G. The Army of Francis Joseph. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1976. p 128.
- Rothenburg 1976, p. 129.
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Erich von Kielmansegg
|Minister-President of Austria
Paul Gautsch von Frankenthurn