to Mr. Evarts.
Vienna , October 27, 1878. (Received November 12.)
Sir: It still appears impracticable to form a ministry for Austria to replace that of Prince Auersperg, whose resignation, long pending, was finally accepted by the Emperor some three weeks ago. The chief causes of difficulty are the following:
First, the dualism of the system of government. The Austro-Hungarian common government, composed of only three chiefs of department, leans for its supplies and its security upon the “delegations” which are chosen by the respective legislatures of the two halves of the empire, each selecting one-half of the total number out of its own body, and each delegation sitting in a chamber apart from the other, as a representation exclusively of its own constituent body. Thus the budget of the common ministry must undergo two independent scrutinies, and receive two independent sanctions, from two almost independent nationalities.
Practically, therefore, the common ministry must have the support of two separate parliaments. To secure this support it must be in accord with the separate ministries of Austria and of Hungary, each of which is dependent for its existence on the support of its own parliament, and must be the interpreter to it of the policy of the central government. If either ministry fails to support the common ministry, the latter loses its representative and its interpreter in the parliament to which that local ministry is responsible. Such failure also would imply a “delegation” hostile to the common ministry, which therefore would fall.
Thus each local ministry, in addition to its own legitimate interests and responsibilities, is obliged to bear those of the central government. This renders the situation at times embarrassing to the last degree; [Page 36] and in case of an unpopular external policy puts an almost intolerable weight upon the local ministry.
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The foreign policy of Count Andrassy is considered as concentrated upon acquisitions to the south, perhaps ultimately leading to the Mediterranean Sea, as I have before advised you. A local ministry must provide ways and means for those expenditures, already large.
The last effort of the Emperor to form a ministry for Austria designated Baron de Pretis, now financial minister, for its chief. The latter called together the leaders of the parliamentary clubs to ascertain what support he could have should he form a ministry. To them he disclosed his programme. Its difficult point was the foreign policy. Upon this he said that after 1880 the occupation must cease to be a charge upon the treasury, and its expenses must be defrayed out of Bosnian revenues. Upon the duration of the occupation, he said it must be until the empire had sufficient guarantees that order and tranquillity would no longer be disturbed on its frontiers, and until the empire should be reimbursed for the expenditures incurred in securing this result. As one of the deputies remarked, this would probably enable their grandchildren to witness its conclusion.
The constitutional party which supported the Auersperg ministry is very much divided, and in large part hostile to this programme. The other clubs are either positively hostile, or broken into fractions on the subject.
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In Hungary the finance minister, an able and popular man, refused to undertake the work of providing for the additional expenses resulting from the occupation of Bosnia, and resigned. The vacancy is temporarily supplied; but it is yet an open question if Count Andrassy’s policy will receive sufficient support from the new Reichstag to enable the friendly Tirja ministry to live. It is proposed to bridge over an interval by passing immediately to an election of the “delegations” prior to a discussion of that policy in the new Reichstag; on the theory that before such discussion they should receive the benefit of Count Andrassy’s explanations, which can only be made to the constituent bodies through their “delegations,” to which he is responsible.
If in this way he draws a favorable “delegation” from Hungary, before a show of hands in the Reichstag, he might continue another year, even though the friendly Hungarian ministry should afterwards fall in the effort to execute the votes of the delegations. In the mean time the Hungarian Government has won the first victory over its opponents by the election of its candidate for president of the popular house, with a majority of sixty-two votes.
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I have, &c.,