Mr. Campbell to Mr. Seward
Sir: I have the honor to enclose the address of his Swedish Majesty to the Diet upon the assembling of that body on the 24th ultimo, with a translation thereof. Herewith will also be found a pamphlet copy of a proposition for the reform of the representation, which was laid before the Swedish Diet of 1863 and brought up for action at the present session.[Page 207]
According to usage, this proposition must be discussed and accepted or rejected without amendment at the present Diet.
The King, on the opening of the legislative chambers, called the attention of the members of the assembly to this project of reform, and urged its adoption with distinctness.
The proposition, embracing a radical change in the organization of the Swedish Diet, proposes to consolidate the four chambers of which the Diet is composed into two—a first chamber and a second chamber, the members of the first chamber to be elected by provincial assemblies and municipal authorities of the towns, for the period of nine years; the second chamber to be composed of members elected for three years by county jurisdictions, whereof those possessing a population under forty thousand shall elect one member, and those exceeding that number shall be districted by the King on the basis of one member to each forty thousand inhabitants.
These are the noticeable features of the project. It may readily be understood that so radical a change as the one contemplated in the organic law has given rise to much discussion and no little apprehension on the part of the public. It is urged by the friends of reform that the consolidation of the four chambers into two is necessary to meet the requirements of progress which the present cumbersome machinery retards, and that a privileged and numerous body, such as the present House of Nobles, looking more to the interest of their order, as well as to an obsolete past, than to necessary legislation, and drawing to their support the clergy on most questions of a vital nature, fail to meet the exigencies of an industrial and practical age. On the other hand, it is said the House of Nobles acts as a check upon what is termed the radicalism of the times, and is necessary under a monarchial form of government to the security of the throne itself.
The next month will probably determine the fate of the proposed measure, which at present is involved in much doubt, although the prevailing opinion is that it will be defeated. A modification by way of compromise may be agreed to and submitted to an extraordinary Diet convoked for its consideration.
There is apprehension on the part of the public that, in the event of the failure of the contemplated reform, indignation may be followed by revolution; but this I think improbable.
The government has presented the budget to the chambers for one year only, and not for three consecutive years, as has heretofore been the case. This departure from established rule may meet with opposition, as it is affirmed by many to be without precedent and unconstitutional. The explanation given by some of the friends of the government is, that they hope to carry the reform bill this session; hence the inutility of a further demand on the public purse at present.
I shall take care to keep the department informed on the subject as further developments occur.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.