No. 99.
Mr. Cramer to Mr. Evarts .

No. 466.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that on the 30th ultimo the ordinary annual session of the Danish Rigsdag was closed by order of the King.

Compared with those of the preceding session, the legislative results of the late session indicate some progress, though, it must be admitted they are still meager.

A financial law acceptable to the executive government was passed by both houses of the Rigsdag, though the amounts requested for the various items, especially those for purposes of fortifications, new war-vessels, &c, have been greatly reduced. No posts, except one in the domestic service, have been abolished, nor the salaries of officials reduced, but rather in some cases increased.

Denmark has thus peaceably emerged from the constitutional crisis described in my dispatches numbered 405, 423, 424, and 434.

The Rigsdag, in its ordinary session of 1876–’77, having failed to pass a financial law in a form acceptable to the executive government, the King, by the advice of his ministers, issued a “provisional financial law” on the 12th of April, 1877, to be in force until a “regular” one was adopted by the Rigsdag. This “provisional financial law” was submitted to the lower house of the Rigsdag at the beginning of its session in October of last year, but it was rejected by a large majority of that house on the 7th of the following November. (The proclamation of the King by which that provisional financial law was issued, together with the article of the Danish constitution upon which it was based, are given in my dispatch No. 424 of April 14, 1877.) The president of the ministry had, however, a few days before its rejection, informed that house that if it rejected that law, and did not within 24 hours pass another financial law containing the same provisions as the “provisional” one, the ministry would again be compelled to advise the King to issue a new “provisional financial law.”

In order to prevent such a calamity—if calamity it may be called—the two houses of the Rigsdag within the space of 24 hours agreed upon and passed a so-called “temporary” financial law, which was to take the place of the rejected “provisional” one. The said “temporary” law was to be in force until the 1st of January of the present year; but on the 19th of December last it was prolonged until the close of the fiscal year, viz, March 31, 1878.

In thus voting for the “temporary” financial law, containing the same or similar provisions as the rejected “provisional” one, the lower house, however, distinctly declared that this action on its own part was by no means to be considered as a vote of confidence in the ministry, but that it now had the right to request the resignation of the latter. This request has, however, not yet been complied with, the ministry enjoying the full confidence of the King.

It is somewhat surprising that the opposition party, while it has at least a two-thirds majority in the lower house, has as yet taken no steps looking toward the impeachment of the ministry for having counter signed the “provisional financial law,” though the leaders of that party have repeatedly denounced that law as unconstitutional, and accused the ministry of having violated both the constitution and their oath of [Page 159] office. The reason for this neglect seems to be found in the universal belief that, in case the ministry should be impeached by the lower house, it would, singly and collectively, be unanimously acquitted.

Another noteworthy fact is that, while the financial law for the current fiscal year was under consideration, the so-called “united left,” or opposition party, in the lower house was split into two groups. During the course of the debate it became evident that the extremists of the opposition party labored hard toward bringing about the rejection of the financial law, without, however, suggesting a plan for escaping another constitutional crisis. The leaders of the right, or of the governmental party, in the upper house (which party has more than a two-thirds majority in that house) approached the more moderate members of the opposition party in the lower house, and, wishing to avoid such a crisis, suggested a compromise. The subject was referred to a joint committee of both houses, who, after a few weeks’ deliberation, proposed a compromise in a form acceptable to the executive government and to a majority of the members of both houses of the Rigsdag. By this action another constitutional crisis was avoided, but by it was also split the opposition majority in the lower house. It is a good omen for a better constitutional and political life in Denmark in the near future, for during the past eight years it has been anything but satisfactory to the people.

I am, &c.,