to Mr. Evarts
Copenhagen , November 20, 1877. (Received December 11.)
Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 424, of the 14th of April last, in which, among other things, I informed you that the Danish Rigsdag having failed to pass the regular financial law for the current fiscal year (April 1, 1877, to March 31, 1878), the King had issued, on the 12th of that month, a “provisional financial law” on the basis of Article XXV of the Danish constitution, I have now the honor to further inform you that, after the minister of finance had laid before the Rigsdag (which was opened on the 1st ultimo) the said “provisional financial law” for approval or rejection, it was, after several days’ debate, rejected by the opposition majority of the lower house. During the debate the minister of finance declared that in case said law was rejected and the Rigsdag failed to pass a regular financial law, the executive government would again be compelled by the exigency of the public service to issue a new “provisional” one, and that but twenty-four hours could be given from the time of the rejection of the “provisional law” till the time of the adoption of a “regular law.” As both political parties had a desire to get out of this “provisional state,” both houses of the Rigsdag united within the given time in adopting a “financial law ad interim”, but it is to be in force only until December 31 next. The provisions of this law are substantially the same as those contained in the “provisional law,” a few slight modifications only having been made.
It is doubtful whether the two houses of the Rigsdag will be able to unite in adopting a regular financial law for the current fiscal year, and [Page 157] the probability is that after the 31st of December next the present “ad-interim law” will be continued in force until the close of the fiscal year. Nor is there at all any prospect of both houses of the Rigsdag uniting upon a regular financial law for the fiscal year April 1, 1878, to March 31, 1879, unless the leaders of both political parties are willing to make mutual concessions. In the mean time peace and quiet reign throughout the kingdom.
Although the leaders of the opposition have denounced the “provisional financial law” as “unconstitutional” and “illegal” they have as yet shown no signs of their intention to impeach the ministry for countersigning it. Nor is it at all likely that they will take such a step, as it is an “open secret” here that the rigsret, the tribunal before which impeachment cases are to be tried, would, in all probability, acquit the ministry of the charge of having violated the constitution by consenting to the issue of a “provisional financial law” and countersigning the same.
The gist of the political troubles in Denmark is this, that the leaders of the opposition party, which party has a majority in the lower house of the Rigsdag, aim at introducing a purely parliamentary form of government similar to that of Great Britain, to which neither the King nor the conservative party, which party has a majority in the upper house, will consent, because the constitution, they say, does not contemplate such a form.
I have, &c.,