30/5/1917 Emperor Karl reconvenes Austria’s parliament

Austria-Hungary’s young Emperor Karl is keen to reform and revitalise his increasingly troubled empire. In an attempt to restore some political legitimacy to the regime and perhaps to spread the blame for unpleasant decisions more widely he decides to reconvene the Reichsrat, the parliament of the Austrian half of the empire. The Reichsrat has not met in over three years, with the Austrian government using powers of decree to bypass it.

The Reichsrat meets for the first time today. If Karl had hoped that the parliamentarians would approach their duties in a spirit of loyalty and cooperation towards his government then he is mistaken. Czech, Serb, Slovene and Croat members use the occasion to assert the rights of their own nationalities. While they pay lip service to the idea of loyalty to the imperial crown, their demands are dangerously threatening to the established order of the empire.

Disaffection is not confined to the parliamentary chamber. War has led to a collapse in living standards across the empire, particularly among those whose ability to purchase food has been eroded by inflation. Industrial workers are increasingly unruly. Strikes occur in war industries in Vienna. In Prague today workers stage a one day strike and demonstrate in the city centre, demanding the release of jailed anti-monarchist Václav Klofáč of the National Social Party.

image source:

Opening session of the Reichsrat (Die Welt der Habsburger / The World of the Habsburgs)

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