The consociational model of democracy, although long recognized by political scientists as a possible solution to the problems of democracy in divided societies, as not gained wide recognition among historians. In failing to recognize non-majoritarian democratic alternatives, historians risk overlooking or misinterpreting important political developments. Simultaneously, greater consideration of consociationalism’s history promises a better understanding of its development, successes, and failures. An application of consociational theory to Imperial Austria in the late-19th and early-20th centuries reveals that political system to be an unrecognized precursor to 20th-century consociationalism.
One of the more important developments within political science in the last half century has been the consociational model of democracy, a form of government designed to encourage stable democracy in countries that are deeply divided by ethnicity, religion, or other communal loyalties. Although consociationalism has become widely recognized by political scientists, and further has had a very real influence on constitutional design in new democracies, it remains largely unrecognized by other scholarly disciplines.
In the case of history, this is unfortunate for two reasons. First, if historians are unaware of the variety of forms democratic government might take, they risk misinterpreting or overlooking important aspects of historical democracies and processes of democratization. Second, a more extensive examination of consociationalism by historians promises to be fruitful in its own right, shedding new light on its development, successes, and failures.
This paper addresses both of these concerns. It begins with an overview of the political scientific literature on consociationalism. It then applies the model to governmental institutions and practices in the Western half of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Here it is argued that Imperial Austria developed significant consociational features in its attempts to address the “Nationalities Question,” and therefore provides a previously unrecognized precedent for 20th-century consociational democracy.
2. Consociationalism and Comparative Democracy
Before discussing consociationalism in Imperial Austria, it is necessary to explain its basic characteristics. The discussion begins with the development of consociational theory as a reaction to the majoritarian assumptions that prevailed in comparative political science in the mid-20th century. This is followed by an overview of consociationalism’s main institutions and practices.
Homogeneity and Majoritarianism in the Post-War Study of Comparative Democracy
The academic literature on consociationalism is primarily associated with the work of one scholar, comparative political scientist Arend Lijphart.[ii] As he would be the first to acknowledge, a number of important works on consociationalism in Europe and Africa preceded his own writings on the subject,[iii] and the word “consociationalism” can itself be traced back to seventeenth-century political philosopher Johannes Althusius’s term consociato.[iv] That being said, Lijphart’s contribution to the study of consociationalism over the past four decades has been simply overwhelming. His research on this topic, along with significant works on the classification of democratic regimes, the study of comparative electoral systems, and political scientific methodology, have made him one of the most prominent political scientists of the late-20th and early-21st centuries.[v]
Consociational theory developed in reaction to two long-standing but insufficiently examined themes in the comparative study of democracy: the claim that social homogeneity is a necessary prerequisite for stable democracy, and the largely unquestioned equation of democracy with majority rule. Challenging a view that can be traced back to Aristotle, according to which “[s]ocial homogeneity and political consensus are regarded as prerequisites for, or factors strongly conducive to, stable democracy,” consociational theory holds that “it may be difficult, but it is not at all impossible to achieve and maintain stable democratic government in a plural society,” as Lijphart writes. In contrast to a homogeneous society, a “plural society” (as defined by Harry Eckstein) is one divided by “segmental cleavages.” These may be of a religious, ideological, linguistic, regional, cultural, racial, or ethnic nature. A further characteristic…is that political parties, interest groups, media of communication, schools, and voluntary associations tend to be organized along the lines of segmental cleavages.
Consociational theory challenges the traditional pessimism about democratic prospects in such societies, warning that it risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. This concern is particularly great regarding democratization in the “Third World,” where the misplaced belief in homogeneity can lead to dangerous attempts to eradicate “primordial loyalties.”[vi] This controversy was foreshadowed by the Mill-Acton debate in the 1860s, which raised similar concerns about prospects for representative government in the Austrian Empire.[vii]
Belief in the necessity of social homogeneity was closely intertwined with a majoritarian conception of democracy in mid-20th-century political science. A prominent example is Gabriel A. Almond’s distinction in the 1950s between “Anglo-American” and “Continental European” democracy. As Lijphart explains, the former is characterized by “its homogeneous political culture…its autonomous parties, interest groups, and communications media,” and “stability,” the latter by “its fragmented political culture and mutual dependence of parties and groups” and “instability.” Drawing heavily on systems theory, the “dominant paradigm” in political science at the time, this distinction favored functional “boundary maintenance” between groups and institutions, and a political system with overlapping group memberships rather than segmental fragmentation. Significantly, this typology also involved the “traditional dichotomous classification of democratic politics” into two-party and multi-party systems. Viewing “interest aggregation” as “the foremost and distinctive function of the political parties,” two-party systems are seen as an ideal, in that they present two contrasting ideological alternatives that transcend underlying social divisions.[viii]
Consociational theory raised doubts about this view in two important respects. First, consociationalists argued that such classifications did not adequately explain the smaller European democracies.[ix] These cases, which Almond classified as “working multiparty systems,” did not fit neatly into his dichotomous classification. Many of the political parties in several of these countries, specifically Austria, the Low Countries, and Switzerland, could not be seen as “broadly aggregative.” Political culture was anything but homogenous due to deep linguistic, religious and ideological divisions. Yet, all of these democracies were remarkably stable.[x]
Second, the conventional view tended to exaggerate contrasts between the First and Third Worlds. The post-war literature on political development, juggling competing demands for nation-building and democratization in newly independent non-Western states, noted the predominance of both plural societies and democratic failure in the developing world. Nation-building was therefore often considered a priority. In response, consociational theorists argued that “much of the theoretical literature on political development” exaggerated “the degree of homogeneity of the Western democratic states.” Further, it ignored “the fact that several plural societies in Europe have achieved stable democracy by consociational methods.”[xi] In short, consociationalism offered a working democratic model that avoided perilous attempts to impose social and cultural homogeneity.
Lijphart’s initial elaboration of the consociational model focused primarily on consociational practices in four small European states in the late 1950s and early 1960s: Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.[xii] The number of cases that have been classified as consociational for at least part of their history has subsequently expanded.[xiii] These include Columbia, Cyprus, post-Cold War Czechoslovakia, India, Lebanon, Luxembourg, and Malaysia.[xiv] Additional cases have been interpreted through the lens of consociational theory, including Burundi, Canada, Congo, Gambia, the European Union, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Netherland Antilles, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.[xv] Furthermore, some scholars have identified consociational characteristics in non-democratic states, such as Bolivia, Ethiopia, the Ivory Coast, Paraguay, and Uganda, as well as the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Ottoman Empire.[xvi] The possibility of consociational oligarchy suggests a conceptual distinction between “consociationalism” and “consociational democracy.
The Consociational Alternative
Consociational democracy is defined by four basic characteristics: grand coalition, cultural autonomy, proportionality, and minority veto.[xvii] Lijphart’s definition of grand coalition has broadened over time,[xviii] the underlying principle remaining that all of a plural society’s segments are somehow represented in the executive branch. In the strictest sense, a grand coalition involves a cabinet that comprises members of all the major political parties, as has been the case in Austria, Malaysia, and South Africa. Alternative arrangements include cabinets representing the major linguistic or other groups but not necessarily the major parties (Belgium); a system of influential advisory councils apart from the cabinet (Netherlands); the allocation of top executive offices, such as the president and prime minister, to members of specified segmental groups (Cyprus, Lebanon); government by a single dominant “party of consensus” (India’s “Congress system”); and “diachronic coalitions” in which power rotates over time (Columbia).[xix]
The second characteristic of consociationalism is that it maximizes the cultural autonomy of each segmental group. As Lijphart notes, this actually “increases the plural nature of an already plural society.”[xx] Cultural autonomy has taken three main forms…(1) federal arrangements in which state and linguistic boundaries largely coincide, thus providing a high degree of linguistic autonomy, as in Switzerland, Belgium, and Czecho-Slovakia; (2) the right of religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer their own autonomous schools, fully supported by public funds, as in Belgium and the Netherlands; and (3) separate “personal laws” – concerning marriage, divorce, custody and adoption of children, and inheritance – for religious minorities, as in Lebanon and Cyprus.[xxi]
The third characteristic, proportionality, refers primarily to the electoral system. The typical electoral formula used in consociational democracies is proportional representation (PR), as is the case in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. PR is favored over majoritarian formulas, such as single-member-district plurality and majority runoff, because the latter produce more disproportional results and are much more likely to result in an artificial majority.[xxii] An alternative is to give minority parties exclusive nomination rights in some districts, as is the practice in Malaysia, thereby correcting for disproportionality. India has developed still other techniques for achieving this, including the geographic concentration of minorities and the reservation of seats for minority group members.[xxiii] Two more extreme variations of proportionality are overrepresentation of small groups and artificial parity of representation.[xxiv] The principle can also include proportionality in civil service appointments and the allocation of financial resources.[xxv]
The final characteristic, minority veto, “usually consists of merely an informal understanding that minorities can effectively protect their autonomy by blocking any attempts to eliminate or reduce it.” In some cases (Belgium, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia), such a “veto is formally entrenched in the constitution.”[xxvi] A peculiarity of the minority veto is that it is not very often actually used. Because minorities can always veto measures that violate their interests, other groups are disinclined to propose them in the first place.[xxvii]
Consociational arrangements are intended to curtail inter-group conflict in two ways: by including representatives of every group in the decision-making process (grand coalition, proportionality), and by taking particularly divisive issues, such as language, education, and religion, off the table (segmental autonomy, minority veto). Consociationalism is intended as “both an empirical and a normative model,”[xxviii] that is, as both an account of how actual consociational democracies operate and as a prescription for successful democracy in divided societies. This raises the question of how such arrangements might effectively be implemented.
One of Lijphart’s goals in studying consociationalism has been to identify the conditions favorable to its success. A persistent theme is that these conditions are neither necessary nor sufficient. Rather, the choices made by political elites play a central role in determining success or failure, a conclusion that “may be disappointing for ‘political science [sic],’ but for political problem solving there may be cause of satisfaction.”[xxix]
Lijphart identifies nine favorable conditions, the first two being the most important:
- the absence of a unified majority group;
- the absence of large socio-economic disparities among the groups;
- a presence of a relatively small number of groups;
- groups of “roughly the same size;”
- a small overall population;
- “external dangers” that “promote internal unity;”
- “overarching loyalties” such as nationalism;
- a geographic concentration of groups that facilitates federalism as a form of cultural autonomy; and
- “[t]raditions of compromise and accommodation.”[xxx]
Unsurprisingly given its prominence, the consociational model has generated a healthy amount of controversy within political science over the years.[xxxi] This includes debates about prescribing consociational democracy for divided societies such as Northern Ireland and South Africa.[xxxii] Competing plans for a post-Apartheid South Africa in fact spurred the “Lijphart-Horowitz Debate,” a dispute that centered on the question of whether democracies in ethnically divided societies should attempt to reinforce or to bridge their deep divisions.[xxxiii] The solution chosen by South Africa was clearly modeled after Liphart, and competing majoritarian and power-sharing proposals for southern Africa continue to be of scholarly interest.[xxxiv] Simultaneously, the wave of democratization that took place in the aftermath of the Cold War stimulated interest in institutional design in Eastern Europe and Latin America.[xxxv] Meanwhile, in developing a concise set of institutional recommendations for any democracy, Lijphart has presented a highly compelling case against Horowitz’s specific institutional proposals.[xxxvi]
3. Democratization and Representative Institutions in Imperial Austria
Before turning to the main argument, it must first be shown that Austria was a plural society. After this it is argued that the Austrian political system, though not democratic, was democratizing throughout the last-19th and early-20th centuries. The section that follows examines majoritarian biases in the historical literature. Finally, the consociational model is applied to the Austrian case, first by examining favorable and unfavorable conditions for consociationalism, and then by assessing consociational features of the Austrian political system.
Imperial Austria as a Plural Society
“Austria” in this context refers to the Western half of Austria-Hungary (1867-1918), which for present purposes is treated independently of the other parts of the Monarchy. Unlike its Hungarian counterpart, it had a federal structure comprising seventeen provinces, each with its own Diet. As is well known, its population was extremely diverse ethnically (see Table 1).
Several comments are in place regarding these data. First, “ethnicity” is based on the “language of everyday use” declared on the census. This measure is of course a great simplification of Austria’s complex identity politics.[xxxvii] However, since ethnic or nationalist mobilization in Austria-Hungary was largely attempted along linguistic lines, here it is understood merely as a rough measure of potential lines of political cleavage. Second, each group’s proportion of the population remained quite constant over six decades.[xxxviii] Third, no group was a majority. Fourth, different groups were concentrated in difference provinces (see Table 2). Simultaneously, these groups were highly mixed geographically. As a consequence, the “Swiss” model of geographically defined ethno-federalism was impractical in Austria.
Plural societies are characterized not just by diversity but by organizational segmentation. This was also true of Imperial Austria. Increasingly throughout the late-19th and early-20th centuries, not only political parties but organizations such as school and agricultural boards, colleges of physicians and engineers, and even private associations such as trade associations, volunteer fire brigades, parishes, restaurants, and banks were divided along ethnic lines.[xxxix]
Imperial Austria as a Democratizing State
Austria was a constitutional monarchy, not a democracy. A strong case can be made, however, that it was democratizing, at least in the sense that it was undergoing processes whereby the rules and procedures of citizenship are either applied to political institutions previously governed by other principles…, or expanded to include persons not previously enjoying such rights and obligations…, or extended to cover issues and institutions not previously subject to citizen participation.[xl]
Political scientist Karl Ucakar, in his monumental study of Austrian elections and democracy, treats the period from the late-18th century through the present-day Austrian Second Republic as one of gradual, if uneven and frequently interrupted, development towards democracy, with the establishment of constitutionalism in 1867 as one major step in that direction.[xli] Meanwhile, historian Robert A. Kann claims that “[i]n spite of all shortcomings, possibilities for peaceful evolution in the direction of democratic government existed in both states.”[xlii]
Limitations on Imperial Austrian democracy were very real. These included: Austro-Hungarian dualism, which prevented Parliament from directly influencing Hungarian and joint Austro-Hungarian matters; an unelected and formally unaccountable executive; an unelected Upper House; federalism; and limited suffrage. Nevertheless, the 1867 Austro-Hungarian Compromise and subsequent political developments involved significant advances towards democracy. These included: a written constitution; a series of liberal reforms, including curtailing the Church’s authority and a bill of fundamental rights; and the gradual expansion of the suffrage in both Diet and Parliamentary elections, which in the latter case led to the establishment of universal manhood suffrage in 1907.[xliii]
Historians’ Criticisms of Representative Politics in Austria
Historians’ accounts of Parliament in the Western half of the Dual Monarchy have long been largely negative. Sked’s appraisal represents the traditional wisdom: In Cisleithania [the nationality problem determined] the whole course of political life… For the Austrian Germans found it much more difficult to control their Slavs than the Hungarians after 1867. The result was that government fell into the hands of the bureaucracy, as parliamentary life became paralyzed and Franz Joseph selected premiers from the ranks of the high civil service. There is no controversy surrounding the course of events.[xliv]
Recent parliamentary and party historiography, however, has increasingly put Parliament in a more positive light, developing a keener eye for compromise among and the practical accomplishments of Austrian politicians.[xlv] Simultaneously, a growing literature has begun to question the ‘naturalness’ of Austria’s many nationalities, emphasizing the coexistence of multiple identities within individuals, competing definitions of the nation, the availability of trans-national loyalties, the institutionalization of nationhood, the significance of local contexts, and the instrumental use of national identities by nationalist politicians.[xlvi]
Historians’ criticisms of Parliament, and of Austrian politics in general, often reflect what might be termed an Anglo-centric bias. This involves the assumption, often implicit, that British parliamentary life, or an idealization of same, should serve as a model. That is, parliaments should be mature deliberative bodies in which two parties representing broad ideological differences calmly debate matters of policy. Leaving aside the matter of how comparison with Britain sheds light on the undemocratic elements within the Austrian system (and 19th-century Britain was hardly democratic by contemporary standards), one should ask whether this is the correct standard by which the Austrian Parliament should be evaluated. Because Austria was a highly divided society, a consociational standard might be more appropriate.
Indeed, unfamiliarity with developments in political science has often led contemporary historians to overlook or misinterpret consociational elements within Austria-Hungary. This is particularly the case in debates over the Moravian Compromise and the subsequent efforts at similar regional compromises in Busweis, Bukowina and Galcia.[xlvii] Indeed, what is most striking about this literature is that all authors, whether critical of or favorable to these compromises, describe institutional arrangements very much like consociationalism without once using the term.[xlviii]
Wank, for example, discounts the importance of the Moravian Compromise of 1905 and the Bukowina Compromise of 1910, claiming that these Dietal reforms were “the products of conditions unique to the two provinces and not applicable in Bohemia or elsewhere in Austria.” He argues further that “the Moravian Compromise was not a compromise at all, but a separation of Czechs and Germans.” Finally, he calls it “undemocratic” since it “consolidated the positions and privileges of the Moravian aristocracy and the German minority…by giving both of them a grossly disproportionate share of political power, which blocked any fundamental change in the compromise.”[xlix]
The first of these objections, claiming “unique conditions,” warrants further scrutiny. Given the broad range of conditions under which consociationalism is said to be feasible,[l] it may be that reforms modeled on the Moravian Compromise would have been easier to implement in some provinces than in others, but they should certainly not be deemed impossible. That such reforms were spreading in early-20th-century Austria also favors this view.
The second, regarding “separation” is in fact one of the fundamental premises of consociationalism. To reiterate, the implementation of consociationalism “increases the plural nature of an already plural society.”[li] Whether this loss of fraternity was worth it must be judged in light of the larger question of whether it promotes stable representative politics. Strikingly, the harshest critics of the Compromise concede that this was the case for the Moravian Diet.[lii]
The final criticism, concerning the privileged roles of the Moravian aristocracy and the German minority, must be considered in two different respects. Insofar as the concern is the undemocratic character of the Compromise, it should be noted that this is a criticism of oligarchy, not consociationalism. From the point of view of consociational theory, in other words, this reform was incomplete but nevertheless a step in the right direction. Furthermore, the history of both Parliamentary and Dietal electoral reform from 1867 onward consistently involved the broadening and increasing proportionality of the suffrage.[liii] It is of course impossible to determine definitively how things might have developed had World War I not occurred. For the same reason, however, one cannot presume that provincial suffrage restrictions were locked in for all time.
Insofar as the concern is the German minority’s ability to veto legislative action, although this may have also served an undemocratic purpose, it nevertheless looks like a standard consociational mechanism for protecting the rights of minorities, thereby keeping highly divisive issues off the table. As noted, in this regard the Compromise appears to have been quite successful. In other words, the concern should be limitations on which Germans could vote, not Germans’ ability to defend their group interests.
A more thorough defense of Parliament’s actual achievements must be taken up elsewhere.[liv] For present purposes, it is simply noted that historians risk overlooking such accomplishments to the extent that they are unaware of consociationalism as a viable form of government. In particular, if the institutionalization of ethnic or other divisions is automatically seen in a negative light, historians may fail to see the ways in which they were or could have been used in the past as the building blocks of political coexistence.
Favorable and Unfavorable Conditions for Consociationalism in Imperial Austria
As mentioned previously, Lijphart describes nine conditions that are favorable for consociationalism.[lv] Of these, several were quite favorable in the case of Austria.[lvi] First, no ethno-linguistic group was in the majority. (Here the contrast with Hungary is noteworthy.) Second, it could be argued that the groups were “roughly the same size,” at least in the sense that there several larger, several medium-sized, and several small groups, roughly balancing each other.[lvii] Third, although some nationalities (e.g. Czechs, Germans) were certainly more industrialized than others (e.g. Romanians, Ruthenians, Serbo-Croatians), nevertheless basic socio-economic divisions cross-cut ethno-linguistic divisions, thereby preventing nationality from being defined solely in class terms.[lviii]
Several of these conditions are less favorable or ambiguous in the Austrian case. As far as demographics are concerned, one clearly negative factor was the relatively large number of ethno-linguistic groups within the population. The effect of the overall size of that population is somewhat harder to judge. With a 1910 population of 28,572,000, Austria was hardly small in comparison to Lijphart’s four European cases, the largest of which had a population of less than 12 million.[lix] On the other hand, Austria’s population was nothing compared to India’s population of over one billion persons. Finally, the various ethno-linguistic groups were generally not geographically concentrated in such a way as to promote cultural autonomy.
The presence or absence of “external dangers” that “promote internal unity” is also difficult to judge. Although Austria-Hungary certainly faced potential military threats from some of its neighbors (e.g. Russia), often those neighbor’s foreign policies played off of its internal division, as in the case of Russian-promoted pan-Slavism or Italian irredentism. Similarly, although a shared history of Habsburg rule might have compensated for the lack of a clear overarching “Austrian” national identity, the dynasty itself was subject to interpretation by non-German nationalists as German domination. Meanwhile, Austria’s political elite showed as much conflict as “compromise and accommodation” in the decades leading up to the Ausgleich.
In summary, Austria’s consociational potential was something of a mixed bag. Although the two most important conditions were favorable, six others must be judged to be negative or mixed, leaning towards negative. As discussed previously, none of these conditions are considered necessary or sufficient for successful consociationalism. From this perspective, it is perhaps unsurprising that there were consociational elements to be found within the Austrian political system, but that the road towards a consociational solution was rather rocky.
Consociational Features of the Imperial Austrian Political System
As discussed earlier, consociational democracy is characterized by four features: proportionality, the minority veto, cultural autonomy and grand coalitions. Here it is argued that Austria already embodied each of them to a remarkable degree. This finding speaks well of both Austria’s lost possibilities and consociationalism.
To a large extent, Austrian parliamentary elections embraced the principle of proportionality. As of 1907, each ethnic group was assigned a number of seats in rough proportion to its share of the population. This distribution, however, also favored those groups paying the greatest share of direct taxes, and in some cases smaller groups benefited disproportionately as well (see Table 3). As a consequence, some groups – Germans, Italians, and Romanians – were overrepresented and others – Czechs, Poles, Serbo-Croatians, and especially Ruthenians[lx] – were underrepresented, while Jews were not directly represented at all.[lxi] Nevertheless, these arrangements was more akin to proportionality than majoritarianism, in that no group held a majority and a mere plurality could certainly not be expected to dominate Parliament. Furthermore, the overwhelming tendency of electoral reform since the 1870s had been towards greater proportionality.
Consociationalism can involve proportionality in policy as well, in that it is “the principal standard of political representation, civil service appointments, and allocation of public funds.”[lxii] At present it is not possible to determine fully the extent to which proportionality in this broader sense was achieved. However, several factors suggest that Austria was heading in that direction. First, although the official status of the various languages was still hotly contested (as exemplified by the Badeni crisis), the principle that bureaucrats should be able to communicate with citizens in their own language was already established.[lxiii] Such language requirements should have encouraged the hiring of officials from ethnic groups in proportion to their population. A rough indication that this was the case is the proportion of each group employed in the public sector (Table 4) – very rough, since the figures presented do not differentiate between civil and military positions. Here the overrepresentation of wealthier as well as some of the smallest ethnic groups, observed above in the distribution of seats, can be noted as well.
Second, similar observations can be made regarding education. Many of these controversies (such as German objections to parallel Slovene classes in Cilli and to an Italian law faculty in Innsbruck) were ongoing, and it would seem that motivated ethnic minorities could do much to prevent other minorities from acquiring their share of the educational pie. Nevertheless, the precedent had been set for providing each ethnic group with its own educational institutions. Examples include the Czech-German partitioning of the university in Prague, the implementation of Ruthenian instruction at the Polish university in Lwów, and the establishment of a Croatian university in Zagreb.[lxiv] The principle of establishing separate institutions for each group is perfectly in line with consociationalism, in that it furthers cultural autonomy.
Even stronger evidence of proportionality in education can be found in the language of instruction of Austria’s primary and secondary schools (Table 5). From the 1880s to the eve of World War I, the proportion of schools teaching in each language approached the proportion of the population declaring that language on the census.[lxv] The one exception was schools for Hungarian-speakers, a tiny minority without its own political representation whose share of schools nevertheless became slightly more proportional over time.
Third, the previously discussed Moravian, Galician, Bukowina, and other Compromises indicate a trend towards working out these issues on the provincial level. Politically, these compromises involved establishing specified numbers of seats for each ethnic group in a province. Educationally, they also involved the division of school boards along ethnic lines, although the benefits of doing so have been contested.[lxvi]
Finally, the very process of legislative decision-making might have favored proportionality in public spending. The threat of obstruction generally forced governments to assemble large parliamentary majorities in order to pass legislation.[lxvii] Consequently, even small groups in Parliament held a good amount of bargaining power. Although this matter requires further empirical investigation, one of the effects of this seems to have been that every group in Parliament had a chance to claim its share of any given policy.
This leads to yet another feature of consociationalism, the minority veto. This has already been discussed regarding certain provincial Diets. More importantly, Parliament itself can be said to have had such a veto, in practice if not formally. The structure of the executive as well as Parliament’s Rules of Procedure allowed exceedingly small groups to block legislative decisions using obstruction. This in itself prevented legislative majorities from encroaching on the interests of minority factions.[lxviii]
Ideally, according to Lijphart, “the very fact that the veto is available as a potential weapon gives a feeling of security which makes the actual use of it improbable.”[lxix] The Austrian Parliament, in other words, had stumbled onto the correct principle. Its remaining problem was to limit its use, establishing a pattern of compromise that rendered
Obstruction less necessary. Quite arguably, the best way to do this would have been to make the executive accountable, since this would encourage the formation of larger parties, thereby facilitating such compromises within Parliament. As importantly, this would have significantly diminished the incentives to obstruct, since Parliament in turn would be accountable for the government’s actions.
The final feature of consociationalism is the grand coalition. As with proportionality and the minority veto, Austria was already approaching this in principle by the turn of the century. For one thing, Austrian governments, although never representing everyone, tended to include a broad cross-section of ethnic groups and political factions.[lxx] Austrian governments were therefore similar to the “shifting coalitions” described by Lijphart. The major exception was that certain groups – most notably, the Social Democrats – had yet to participate in government by 1914.
For another, any government’s basis of support was generally much broader than was directly represented in the cabinet. Despite a lack of formal accountability, any government had to maintain the tacit support of a super-majority in order to pass legislation. This effectively expanded the basis of Austrian governments, in terms of parliamentary practice if not in terms of government appointments.[lxxi]
In summary, representative institutions on both the Austrian and the provincial level already embodied the main features of ethnic consociationalism, albeit imperfectly, by 1914. Parliamentary representation, and arguably government policy and spending, approximated ethnic proportionality, with the qualification that wealthier groups were over-represented in both respects. Sufficiently motivated minority groups in Parliament could effectively veto majority decisions, although doing so could be highly disruptive in practice. Finally, Austrian governments were much more akin to grand coalitions than they were to single-party governments. Although certain groups failed to acquire ministerial appointments, governments nevertheless tended to represent a broad cross-section of the political spectrum, and governments were effectively accountable to an even broader cross-section within the legislature itself.[lxxii]
If Imperial Austria was (semi-) consociational, what are the implications for our understanding of consociationalism? After all, if it failed to solve the problem of ethnic conflict, it can hardly be held up as a model. The perspective suggested here, however, is more positive. First of all, Austria was only imperfectly consociational by the beginning of World War I, as indicated above. Secondly, although consociational elements were certainly present, Austria was by no means a democracy at that point. Rather, it is best characterized as a semi-consociational constitutional monarchy, and one that shared institutional ties to a majoritarian and less democratized constitutional monarchy (Hungary) as well as a significant occupied territory (Bosnia-Herzegovina). Indeed, the unresolved relationship between the two Reichshälfte is often seen as a crucial factor in bringing down the Monarchy.[lxxiii]
As far as unresolved ethnic issues are concerned, Austria was already moving in the direction of increased proportionality combined with separate compromises on the provincial level. Regarding Parliament’s performance, it can be argued that the key problem here was the lack of executive accountability,[lxxiv] raising the possibility that solving the latter problem would have facilitated further ethnic compromise. Austria, in short, was already becoming increasingly consociational. The real issue was making it more democratic as well.
This reinterpretation has significant implications for both political science and history. Regarding the former, it reveals that consociationalism has a longer and richer pre-history than had been recognized previously. It also suggests new lines of research on the origins of political institutions. Do divided societies tend to stumble upon the same solutions to their problems? Under what conditions? To what degree did later political actors consciously emulate the Habsburg example? To what extent is this a matter of institutional legacies? These issues call for closer investigation.
These findings also have implications for how historians evaluate the Monarchy. That Austrian political innovations foreshadowed those of the late-20th and early-21st centuries speaks well of that culture’s creative potential. Inversely, consociational democracy’s contemporary successes support more favorable, “lost opportunity” evaluations of the Habsburg project – or the very least, require historians to clarify why that case was somehow different. Regardless, this project clearly calls for increased cooperation between the two disciplines.
[i] An earlier version of this paper was presented as Philip J. Howe, “Historical Applications of the Consociational Democratic Model: Imperial Austria as a Proto-Consociational State,” Panel “The Development of Consociational (Consensual) Democracy in Central and East-Central Europe,” Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies National Convention, November 21, 2010. An expanded version of it is to appear as two separate chapters in Daniel E. Miller and Howe, eds., Consociationalism in Central Europe, forthcoming.
[ii] Lijphart’s published writings are vast. So far as his work on consociationalism is concerned, Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977) would be the best place to start. “The Puzzle of Indian Democracy: A Consociational Interpretation,” American Political Science Review 90, no. 2 (1996): 258-268, constitutes Lijphart’s “‘final’ formulation of consociational theory” according to his “Introduction: developments in power sharing theory,” in Thinking about Democracy: Power Sharing and Majority Rule in Theory and Practice, edited by Arend Lijphart (London; New York: Routledge, 2008), 4. Finally, Thinking provides an invaluable representative collection of his work, with a heavy emphasis on his writings about consociationalism and consensus democracy.
[iii] Important early works include: Claude Ake, “Political Integration and Political Stability: A Hypothesis,” World Politics 19 (1967): 486-499; David E. Apter, The Political Kingdom of Uganda (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961); Gerhard Lehmbruch, “Konkordanzdemokratie im politischen System der Schweiz,” Politische Vierteljahresschrift 9 (1968): 443-459; Lehmbruch, Proporzdemokratie: Politisches System und politische Kultur in der Schweiz und in Oesterreich (Tübingen: Mohr, 1967); W. Arthur Lewis, Politics in West Africa: The Whidden Lectures (London: Allen & Unwin, 1965); Lijphart, The Politics of Accommodation: Pluralism and Democracy in the Netherlands (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968); Lijphart, “Typologies of Democratic Systems,” Comparative Political Studies 8, no. 2 (1968): 158-177; and Kenneth David McRae, ed., Consociational Democracy: Political Accommodation in Segmented Societies (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1974). In “Varieties of Nonmajoritarian Democracy,” in Democracy and Institutions: The Life Work of Arend Lijphart, edited by Markus M.L. Crepaz, Thomas A. Koelble, and David Wilsford (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000), 225-245, Lijphart also notes works by several political scientists, specifically Robert A. Dahl, A Preface to Democratic Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956); Jane Mansbridge, Beyond Adversary Democracy (New York: Basic Books, 1980); G. Bingham Powell, Jr., Contemporary Democracies: Participation, Stability, and Violence (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982); and William H. Riker, Liberalism against Populism: A Confrontation between the Theory of Democracy and the Theory of Social Choice (San Francisco: Freeman, 1982) that discuss non-consociational alternatives to majoritarian democracy.
As noted by Lijphart, aspects of consociational theory find precedents in the writings of Austro-Marxists Otto Bauer and Karl Renner (“Introduction,” 4). Regarding their ideas see Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie (Vienna: I. Brand, 1907); Robert A. Kann, Ideen und Pläne zur Reichsreform, Vol. 1 of Das Nationalitätenproblem der Habsburgermonarchie. Geschichte und Ideengehalt der nationalen Bestrebingen vom Vormärz bis zur Auflösung des Reiches im Jahre 1918, 2nd expanded edition (Graz, Köln: Verlag Hermann Böhlaus Nachf., 1964), chap. XX; Renner [Rudolf Springer], Der Kampf der österreichischen Nationen um den Staat. 1. Teil: Das nationale Problem als Verfassungs- und Verwaltungsfrage (Leipzig; Vienna: Deuticke, 1902); Renner, Das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Nationen in besonderer Anwendung auf Oesterreich. 1. Teil Nation und Staat (Leipzig; Vienna: F. Deuticke, 1918); and Renner [Synopticus], Staat und Nation. Staatsrechtliche Untersuchung über die möglichen Principien einer Lösung und die juristischen Voraussetzungen eines Nationalitätengesetzes (Vienna: Eigenverlag, 1899). To these two might be added quite a number of Austrian thinkers who contributed to the development of the concept of “national autonomy,” including 19th-century liberal reformer Adolf Fischhof as well as the members of the National Autonomy association, which apart from Renner himself included Nathan Birnbaum, Richard Chamatz, Friedrich Hertz, Jan Machar, Thomas Masaryk, and Aurel von Onciul (S.A. Birnbaum, “Nathan Birnbaum and National Autonomy,” in The Jews of Austria: Essays on their Life, History and Destruction, edited by Josef Fraenkel (London: Vallentine, Mitchell & Co., 1967), 131-146; Gerald Stourzh, “The Ethnicizing of Politics and ‘National Indifference’ in Late Imperial Austria,” in Der Umfang der österreichische Geschichte. Ausgewählte Studien 1990-2010, edited by Gerald Stourzh (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2011), 322fn122; and Stourzh, “Ethnic Attribution in Late Imperial Austria: Good Intentions, Evil Consequences,” in The Habsburg Legacy: National Identity in Historical Perspective, edited by Ritchie Robertson and Edward Timms (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), 68.) Finally, late-19th-century legal scholar Georg Jellinek’s ideas are a clear precursor to consociationalism’s minority veto (Stourzh, “Ethnicizing,” 309).
[iv] Johannes Althusias, Politik, trans. Heinrich Janssen, ed. Dieter Wyduckel (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot,  2003), chaps. III-V; Rudy B. Andeweg, “Consociational Democracy,” Annual Review of Political Science 3 (2000): 510; and Lijphart, “Introduction.”
[v] [v]Lijphart, Thinking; David Wilsford, “Studying Democracy and Putting It into Practice: The Contributions of Arend Lijphart to Democratic Theory and to Actual Democracy,” in Democracy and Institutions, 1-7.
[vi] Lijphart, Democracy, 1-4, 19-20, 24.
[vii] Lord Acton, “Nationality,” in The Nationalism Reader, eds. Omar Dahbour and Micheline R. Ishay (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press International, 1995), 108-118; John Stewart Mill, “Considerations on Representative Government,” in Three Essays, ed. Richard Wollheim (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), 143-423.
[viii] Lijphart, Democracy, 6-14.
[ix] Lijphart’s work on this subject in fact began by reflecting on political practices in his native Netherlands (Politics).
[x] Lijphart, Democracy, 14-16.
[xi] Ibid., 16-24.
[xii] Ibid., 1-2.
[xiii] Not all of these cases would be counted as consociational for all of their history; however, specific dates for countries’ consociational periods are omitted for the sake of readability.
[xiv] Andeweg, Consociational, 514; Lijphart, “Puzzle,” 258.
[xv] Andeweg, Consociational, 514-515; Lijphart Democracy, chaps. 4-6; Lijphart “Puzzle,” 258.
[xvi] Milton J. Esman, “Power Sharing and the Constructionist Fallacy,” in Democracy and Institutions, 91-112; Lijphart “Puzzle,” 258.
[xvii] The analysis that follows relies on Lijphart, “Puzzle.” In “Introduction,” 4-5, Lijphart cites “five significant improvements” that took place in his accounts of consociationalism between the late 1960s and the mid-1990s. These are: 1) the definition of “consociational democracy in terms of four basic characteristics;” 2) the “distinction between primary and secondary characteristics;” 3) emphasis on “the fact that all four consociational characteristics can assume quite different forms but, at the same time, that these different forms do not work equally well and are not equally to be recommended;” 4) settling “on a list of nine favorable conditions” and listing “the absence of a solid ethnic or religious majority and the absence of large socioeconomic inequality…as the two most important of those nine favorable factors;” and 5) emphasizing “that the nine conditions should not be regarded as either necessary or sufficient conditions.”
[xviii] Andeweg, Consociational, 520.
[xix] Ibid., 520; Lijphart, Democracy, 31-36; Lijphart “Puzzle,” 259-260.
[xx] Democracy, 42.
[xxi] Lijphart, “Puzzle,” 260.
[xxii] “Disproportionality” refers to a discrepancy between the proportion of the vote and the proportion of the seats received by political parties. An “artificial majority” occurs when a party wins more than half of the seats with fewer than half the votes. Both are commonplace in countries using plurality rule, such as Great Britain and the United States. A thorough investigation of the effects of different electoral formulas can be found in Lijphart, Electoral Systems and Party Systems: A Study of Twenty-seven Democracies, 1945-1990 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).
[xxiii] Lijphart, “Puzzle,” 261.
[xxiv] Lijphart, Democracy, 40-41.
[xxv] Ibid., 38-41; Lijphart, “Puzzle,” 261.
[xxvi] Lijphart, “Puzzle,” 261.
[xxvii] Lijphart, Democracy, 36-38; Lijphart, “Puzzle,” 261-262.
[xxviii] Lijphart, Democracy, 1.
[xxix] Ibid., 53-55. The “sic” is Lijphart’s.
[xxx] Ibid., chap.3; Lijphart, “Puzzle,” 262-263.
[xxxi] A thorough survey of the major normative, conceptual, and methodological criticisms of consociational theory, as well as effective responses, can be found in Andeweg, Consociational, 517-531; Lijphart, Democracy, 47-52; and Andrew Reynolds, “Majoritarian or Power-Sharing Government,” in Democracy and Institutions, 165-170.
[xxxii] Andeweg, Consociational, 516-517.
[xxxiii] Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985); Horowitz, A Democratic South Africa?: Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society, vol. 46 of Perspectives on Southern Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); Philip J. Howe, “Electoral Institutions and Ethnic Group Politics in Austria, 1967-1914,” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 16, no. 2 (2010): 164-191; Howe, “Well-Tempered Discontent: Nationalism, Ethnic Group Politics, Electoral Institutions and Parliamentary Behavior in the Western Half of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, 1867-1914” (Ph.D. diss. University of California at San Diego, 2002), 13-28 and passim; Lijphart, Power-sharing in South Africa, vol. 24 of Policy Papers in International Affairs (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California, 1985).
[xxxiv] Reynolds, “Majoritarian,” 155-195.
[xxxv] Lijphart and Carlos Waisman, eds., Institutional Design in New Democracies: Eastern Europe and Latin America (Boulder, Westview Press, 1996). See also Florian Bieber, “Consociationalism – Prerequisite or Hurdle for Democratization in Bosnia? The Case of Belgium as a Possible Example,” South-East Europe Review 2, no.3 (October 1999): 79 -94 and Mirjana Kasapovi?, “Bosnia and Herzegovina: Consociational or Liberal Democracy?” Politi?ka misao 42, no.5 (2005): 3-30.
[xxxvi] Lijphart, “Constitutional Design for Divided Societies,” Journal of Democracy 15, no. 2 (2004): 96-109.
[xxxvii] Analysis of the problems involved in interpreting the Austrian census can be found in Emil Brix, Die Umgangsprachen in Altösterreich zwischen Agitation und Assimilation (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 1982).
Note that Serbs and Croats were not counted as separate nationalities (Volksstämme) in the census, since Serbian and Croatian were treated as a single language. The Serbo-Croatian-speaking population can be further differentiated by religion, this serving as an additional marker of potential ethnic or national affiliation. The population of Istria in 1910 included 167,366 Serbo-Croatian-speaking Roman Catholics out of a Serbo-Croatian population of 168,184. The Serbo-Croatian-speaking population of Dalmatia in the same year included 508,430 Roman Catholics and 101,828 Greek Orthodox. If Serbo-Croatian-speaking Catholics are counted as “Croats” and all those of Greek Orthodox faith as “Serbs,” the result is that more than 99% of Istrian Serbo-Croatians and 83.31% of Dalmatian Serbo-Croatians were in fact “Croats” (Suppan 1980, 628-629). “Serbs,” therefore, constituted a tiny minority within the Western half of the Monarchy.
[xxxviii] Jews cease to be a separate category after 1851. This stems from the fact that they were not recognized as a nationality (Volksstamm) under the 1867 Constitution, and consequently Yiddish was not recognized as a “language of everyday use.” Jews were therefore required to claim one of the “official” languages on the census, although Jews were known to claim Jüddisch as a protest. Officially, 25.88% of Cisleithanian Jews spoke German, 3.86% Czech, 61.70% Polish and 1.80% Ruthenian. The reality was less clear-cut. In Galicia and Bukowina, for example, nine-tenths of Jews had Yiddish as their “mother tongue,” this being complicated there and elsewhere by the facts of assimilation and widespread multi-lingualism. See Wolfdieter Bihl, “Die Juden,” in Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848-1918, vol.3.2, edited by Adam Wandruszka and Peter Urbanitsch (Vienna: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1980), 902-908 & Table 92.
[xxxix] Stourzh, “Ethnicizing,” 293-296.
[xl] Guillermo O’Donnell and Philippe C. Schmitter, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), 8.
[xli] Karl Ucakar, Demokratie und Wahlrecht in Österreich, Vol. 24 of Österreichische Texte zur Gesellschaftskritik (Vienna: Verlag für Gesellschaftskritik, 1985), 23-27.
[xlii] Kann, A History of the Habsburg Empire 1526-1918 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 341.
[xliii] Howe, “Electoral Institutions,” 169-171; Howe, “Well-Tempered Discontent,” 111-181.
[xliv] Alan Sked, The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire 1815-1918 (London: Longman, 1989), 218-219.
[xlv] Harald Binder, Galizien in Wien. Parteien, Wahlen, Fraktionen und Abgeordnete
im Übergang zur Massenpolitik (Vienna: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenshaften, 2005); John W. Boyer, Political Radicalism in Late Imperial Vienna (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981); Boyer, Culture and Political Crisis in Vienna (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995); Bruce M. Garver, The Young Czech Party 1874-1901 and the Emergence of a Multyparty System (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978); Lothar Höbelt, Kornblume und Kaiseradler. Die deutschfreiheitlichen Parteien Altösterreichs 1882-1918 (Vienna: Verlag für Geschichte und Politik, 1993; Höbelt, Franz Joseph I. Der Kaiser und sein Reich. Eine politische Geschichte (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2009); Höbelt, “‘Well-tempered Discontent’: Austrian Domestic Politics,” in The Last Years of Austria-Hungary: A Multi-National Experiment in Early Twentieth-Century Europe, revised and expanded edition, edited by Mark Cornwall (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002); Howe, “Electoral Institutions;” Howe, “Well-Tempered Discontent;” Helmut Rumpler, Eine Chance für Mitteleuropa. Bürgerliche Emanzipation und Staatsverfall in der Habsburgermonarchie (Vienna: Ueberreuter, 2005); Rumpler and Peter Urbanitsch, eds., Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848-1918, Vol.VII.1 (Vienna: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2000; and Eduard Winkler, Wahlreschtsreformen und Wahlen in Triest 1905-1909 (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 2000).
[xlvi] Brix, Umgangsprachen; Gary Cohen, The Politics of Ethnic Survival, 2nd edition (West Lafayuette: Purdue University Press 2006; Laurence Cole and Daniel L. Unowsky, eds., The Limits of Loyalty: Imperial Symbolism, Popular Allegiances, and State Patriotism in the Late Habsburg Monarchy (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007); Howe, “Well-Tempered Discontent;” Howe, “Voting across Ethnic Lines in Late Imperial Austria,” Nations and Nationalism 16 (April 2010): 164-191; Pieter M. Judson, Guardians of the Nation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006); Judson and Marsha L. Rozenblit, eds., Constructing Nationalities in East Central Europe (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005); Jeremy King, Budweisers into Czechs and Germans: A Local History of Bohemian Politics, 1848-1948 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002); and Tara Zahra, Kidnapped Souls. National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands 1900-1948 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2008).
[xlvii] The attempted compromise in Budweis was never actually implemented before the outbreak of World War I. These reforms do seem to be part of a broader trend, in that they inspired talk of additional provincial and communal compromises in Bohemia, Bosnia-Hercegovia, and Olmütz (Stourzh, “Ethnicizing,” 320; Zahra, Kidnapped Souls, 34).
[xlviii] Ongoing disputes over these compromises are discussed in much greater depth in Howe, “Imperial Austria as a Proto-Consociational Semi-Democracy” in Miller and Howe, Consociationalism. Regarding the Bukowina, Budweis, and Galician Compromises respectively, see John Leslie, “Der Ausgleich in der Bukowina von 1910: Zur österreichischen Nationalitätenpolitik vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg,” in Geschichte zwichsen Freiheit und Ordnung. Gerald Stourzh zum 60. Gebursttag, edited by Brix, Thomas Fröschl and Josef Leidenfrost (Graz: Verlag Styria, 1991), 113-144; Brix, “Der böhmische Ausgleich in Budweis,” Österreichische Osthefte 24, no. 2 (1982): 225-248; and Stourzh, Die Gleichberechtigung der Nationalitäten in der Verfassung und Verwaltung Österreichs 1848-1918 (Vienna: Verlag der österreichischen Akadmie der Wissenschaften, 1985), 229-240. Regarding debates over the Moravian Compromise, which as the earliest has gotten the lion’s share of attention, see Hannelore Burger, “Der Verlust der Mehrsprachigkeit: Aspekte des Mährischen Ausgleichs,” Bohemia 34 (1993): 77-89; Horst Glassl, Der Mährische Ausgleich (Munich: Fides-Verlagsgesellschaft, 1967); T. Mills Kelly, “Last Best Chance or Last Gasp? The Compromise of 1905 and Czech Politics in Moravia,” Austrian History Yearbook 34 (2003): 279-301; Stourzh, Gleichberechtigung, 213-228; Stourzh, “Ethnic Attribution;” Stourzh, “Ethnicizing;” Soloman Wank, “Some Reflections on the Habsburg Empire and Its Legacy in the Nationalities Question,” Austrian History Yearbook 28 (1997): 131-164; and Zahra, Kidnapped Souls, 32-48.
[xlix] Wank, “Some Reflections,” 144-5. Concern with the institutionalization of dichotomous Czech and German identities, what Stourzh terms “the ethnicizing of politics,” are at the heart of Burger, Stourzh, and Zahra’s criticisms of the Moravian Compromise, particularly in the realm of educational policy and for its post-war legacies (Burger, “Der Verlust;” Stourzh, “Ethnic Attribution;” Stourzh, “Ethnicizing;” and Zahra, Kidnapped Souls, 32-48 and passim). Kelly, Last Best Chance puts great emphasis on the undemocratic character of the Compromise, blaming the failure to implement universal suffrage for the Moravian Diet for the radicalization and nationalization of Moravian Czech politics.
[l] Lijphart, Democracy, 53-55; Lijphart, Patterns, 262-263.
[li] Lijphart, Democracy, 42.
[lii] Kelly, Last Best Chance, 300-301.
[liii] Howe, “Electoral Institutions,” 169-171; Howe, “Well-Tempered Discontent,” 140-180.
[liv] Howe, “Well-Tempered Discontent,” Ch. V.
[lv] Lijphart, Patterns, 262-263.
[lvi] For the sake of simplicity, it is presumed that ethno-linguistic divisions were the relevant ones for the purposes of a potential consociational system in Austrian. Other societal divisions, such as the urban-rural and religious cleavages, existed as well. See Howe, “Well-Tempered Discontent,” 87-110.
[lvii] Specifically, Germans were consistently the largest group, with a little over a third of the overall population. Czechs, making up roughly a quarter of the population, and Poles and Ruthenians, each with roughly 12 to 18 percent, count as the other major ethnic groups. Slovenians, Serbo-Croatians and Italians counted as significant if small minorities, each with roughly 2 to 5 percent. The remainder consisted of groups making up a miniscule fraction of the overall population.
[lviii] Howe, “Well-Tempered Discontent,” 97-104.
[lix] Lijphart, Democracy, 65.
[lx] This was due to the continued Polish dominance of Galician politics. Nevertheless, this disproportionately small share of seats marked a substantial gain for Ruthenians, and correspondingly a relative political decline for Poles in that province, which explains the willingness of Ruthenian politicians to accept the new electoral arrangements despite their inadequacies (Binder, “Die Wahlreform von 1907 und der polnisch-ruthenische Konflikt in Ostgalizien,” Österreichische Osthefte 38, no. 3 (1996): 311-312).
[lxi] By the early 20th century, however, Jews were acquiring guaranteed representation, if somewhat indirectly. Not only did Jewish National and Zionist parties win a handful of Parliamentary seats, but both the Bukowina and the Galician Compromises established Jewish safe seats without formally recognizing Jews as a nationality (Leslie, Ausgelich, 124-131; Stourzh, “Ethnic Attribution,” 73-74; Stourzh, Gleichberechtigung, 233-240).
[lxii] Lijphart, Democracy, 25.
[lxiii] Regarding the status of the various languages in each of the provinces, as well as the all-important distinction between Landessprache and landesübliche Sprache, see Kann, Das Reich und die Völker, Vol. 1 of Nationalitätenproblem, 190-193 and Ideen, 394-396, as well as Sked, Decline, 220-221.
[lxiv] Kann, History, 439.
[lxv] Results are more ambiguous for Realschulen, Lehrer- und Lehrerinnen-Bildungsanstalten, Gymnasien, and Realgymnasien, based on an initial analysis of the data in Burger, Sprachenrechtund Sprachgerechtigkeit im österreichischen Unterrichtswesen 1867-1918 (Vienna: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1995), Tables 2A, 3, 4A, and 4C. This is in part due to the fact that most such schools taught in Czech, German, Italian, and/or Polish but not in the other languages.
[lxvi] Brix, “böhmische Ausgleich;” Burger, “Verlust;” Leslie, “Ausgleich;“ Stourzh, „Ethnic Attribution,“Ethnicizing,” and Gleichberechtigung, 213-240; and Zahra, Kidnapped Souls, 32-48.
[lxvii] Howe, “Well-Tempered Discontent,” Ch.V.
[lxix] Democracy, 37.
[lxx] Howe, “Well-Tempered Discontent,” Ch.V.
[lxxii] Although it falls outside of the period under consideration, and in any case was never implemented, Emperor Karl’s Völkermanifest of October 1918, which proposed to federalize Austria along ethnic lines, might be seen as a continuation of the trends discussed here. See Helmut Rumpler, Das Völkermanifest Kaiser Karls vom 16. Oktober 1918. Letzter Versuch zur Rettung des Haburgerreichs (Vienna: Verlag für Geschichte und Politik, 1966).
[lxxiii] Sked, Decline, ch.5.
[lxxiv] Howe, “Electoral Institutions,” 184-189; Howe, “Well-Tempered,” Ch.V and 388-423.
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Preferred citation: Howe, Philip J. 2012. Imperial Austria as a Precursor to Consociational Democracy. In: Re-thinking European Politics and History, ed. A. Pasieka, D. Petruccelli, B. Roth, Vienna: IWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. 32.