to Mr. Evarts.
Berlin , October 15, 1879. (Received November 3.)
Sir: The elections to the Prussian Landtag, or house of deputies, were held on the 7th instant, and the result is of more than usual interest, inasmuch as it shows an increase in the strength of the Conservative parties unprecedented in the history of constitutional Prussia. The following numbers of supporters of the various parties were elected: Conservatives, 115; Free Conservatives (that is Conservatives who are not per se supporters of the government), 50; Roman Catholics, 96; National Liberals, (that is, men of liberal ideas who are willing at times, to subordinate their aims as a party for the sake of national unity), 105; Progressionists, 34; Poles, 19; those unattached to any party, 14. These figures, compared with the result of the previous elections, show that the Conservatives and Free Conservatives have, together, gained 88 seats, while the National Liberals and Progressionists, have lost 92. The Roman Catholic, or Center Party, has an addition of 7 seats; and the Polish party, of 4 seats. But these last named results are insignificant in view of the relative positions of the Conservative and Liberal factions. The assembly in which, during former sessions, the Liberal party predominated, will, in the coming legislative [Page 403] period, be commanded by a majority composed of Conservatives, and, judging from present appearances, the Roman Catholics; the latter, a party generally supposed to have strong reactionary intentions as regards education and the relation between church and. state. There is not, however, much reason to believe that such intentions will be carried into effect, since the Liberal and Progressionist parties, judging from the expression of their organs in the press, would willingly coalesce with the Government Conservatives to refuse the Center Party any serious alterations in existing laws. The government can choose whether it will take supporters to form a commanding majority from the Liberal or the Roman Catholic ranks. On whichever party its choice may fall, a working majority will be secured for it.
These changes in the Prussian Landtag will not, of course, directly affect the imperial legislation of the Reichstag, but they are symptomatic of tendencies among the people which will, in all probability, make themselves felt in the Imperial Parliament. They indicate above all the powerful influence of the personality of Prince Bismarck upon the Prussian people, who, in thus sending to the Landtag so large a number of men pledged to be his supporters, have expressed their full confidence in his recent financial and commercial policy. Indeed, it may almost be taken for granted that whatever legislative proposals the chancellor may in the future think it right to make will be indorsed by the nation. In the next session of the Prussian Landtag, which is to be opened on the 28th instant, the immediate result of this decided popularity of the chancellor’s policy will, in all probability, be, among other things, the enactment of new laws for church government—modifying somewhat those framed by Dr. Falk, the late minister of public worship and education—financial reforms, and further steps toward completing the purchase of the railroads by the state.
It may also be inferred from the results of these elections that in any views regarding a return to the mixed or double currency standard which the chancellor may put forward in the coming sessions of the Reichstag, he will have little to fear from the opposition of “theorists” or “doctrinaires.” There seems no reason to suppose that the nation would not follow his lead in these as in other matters of public policy.
I have, &c.,