Best reform plan for the Austrian Empire?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by pinerana, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. pinerana Active Member

    Mar 11, 2019
    Everyone seems to be in agreement that the Austro-Hungarian compromise was a bad deal for long term stability of the country. It gave too much to the Hungarians and nothing to anyone else. What would in your opinion be a good way to structure the Austrian Empire?

    The 2 most common proposals tend to be:

    1. United States of Greater Austria
    That being fully federalizing the empire along ethnic lines.
    2. Federlazing the empire along traditional crownland of Bohemia, Galicia, Austria, Croatia and Hungary instead of ethnic borders

    In my opinion the first one is an extremely dumb idea for several reasons
    • It would give legitimacy to the idea of ethno-nationalism and further fuel ethnic conflict
    • It would piss of Hungarians so much that they'd never willingly agree to participate in this, what remains of Hungary would have to be effectively under permanent occupation
    • Germans wouldn't be quite happy about losing their privileges in Bohemia
    • Czechs would be pissed for not getting all of Bohemia
    • Nationalities like the Serb and the Romanians would still betray the empire and join their country if ever given the chance anyway
    • So all in all you're creating 10 000 new problems while solving almost none of them
    The second one has a plethora of problems too, if all the crownlands were given the same autonomy Austria and Hungary were given in OTL.
    You have to remember that Austria and Hungary were pretty much separate countries, with nothing tying them together except a common monarch and a common foreign policy and the millitary. They had completely separate and independent laws and parliaments. In essence they were more different from each other than present day EU countries.
    Dividing the Austrian empire into 5 regions like this would effectively make it no longer be a single state and only increase the centrifugal forces pulling the country in separate directions.

    My proposal for reform would be division of the country into Galicia, Hungary, Croatia and Austria Proper(with Bohemia). But these regions would have to be much more integrated than Austria-Hungary was and have a common parliament and other state institutions in Vienna, but also large local autonomies.
    The issue of dealing with minorities and languages would be left up to the regional parliaments and wouldn't be allowed to be discussed in the federal parliament which would only deal with general issues of the empire as a whole.

    Languages of the empire would be:
    Croatia - Croatian
    Galicia - Polish and Ukranian
    Hungary - Hungarian(with minorities possibly getting language rights in the latter half of the 20th century)
    Austria Proper - German (Czech eventually getting regional language rights in areas where it's the majority in the first half of the 20th century)
    Federal level - German (taught in the empire as a whole as a compulsory second language)

    Anyway sorry for the long post, would like to hear your thoughts on this, what you think of my proposal and what would be the best solution in your opinion.
  2. Vanity 6 Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2013
    In Cisleithania you’d likely see more of these compromises and sub compromises like the ones in Bukovina and Moravia. Quotas and curiae. Maybe something like current day Bosnia. All very fascinating. But it keeps the state in tact.

    Hungary is more difficult as the Magyars were not amenable to compromise. Although please tell me—did they start to ease up in Croatia after 1905? That would have been a smart policy to continue. Just honor the 1868 agreement.

    Could Imperial Germany have helped with Transylvania by bringing pressure to bear? It wanted its alliance with Romania quite badly and if it looked to be in trouble....? Could we see Magyar, Romanian and German cantons created? Also Voivodina had a mix similar to Bukovina but with Serbs, Germans and Magyars. Could a power sharing agreement take hold there?
  3. Mightyboosh5 Well-Known Member

    May 7, 2015
    federalising along ethnic borders would be suicide as it essentially provides a blueprint for secession.

    a great strength of the austrian empire was that it didnt neatly divide along ethnic lines and its support came from many groups (transylvanian saxons, bohemian germans, galician ukrainians) who knew that in an independant state they would get a raw deal.

    the austromarxist "personal principle" would probably be a good way of organising at the highest level where groups are recognised at a social level rather than a geographic level.
  4. Socrates Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2011
    Break into smaller provinces that are large enough to have genuine local power but small enough they aren't viable independent states.
    TeePee likes this.
  5. RMcD94 Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2010
    Dominion of Scotland, Imperial Commonwealth
    Geographic federalism is pointless because Germans are everywhere by that point and regardless they were mixed. The obsession with dividing the empire into provinces never made sense to me and seemed completely unnecessary, any ethnic map shows that you'll have problems. Unless you want to start moving people from their homes and banning them from going to a country. Also ethnic divisions encourage independence.

    Instead I propose:

    1 Universal Legislature - makes laws that apply to everyone. Can raise taxes on everyone.

    X Ethnic Legislature - makes laws that apply to specific ethnic groups. Wherever they are in the empire. Can only tax people who are of that ethnicity.

    People can choose their ethnicity, and as many or as few as they like.

    Each parliament has to enforce its own laws and should raise taxes from its own members for its own police.

    If Bosnians care that much about having separate laws from Serbian then they'll be happy to pay.

    Problem solved.
  6. pinerana Active Member

    Mar 11, 2019
    Good in theory except for you have one big green blob who wouldn't agree to it (Hungary)

    Hungary would remain unruly until they get their fully unity, they'd be pissed if they even had to lose only Croatia.
    Now you could make others small but keep Hungary together but that'd make Hungary the dominant force and that's not quite acceptable.
  7. Socrates Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2011
    So use the smaller nations to break the Hungarians.
  8. mrmandias Regent

    Nov 29, 2006
    The Great Empty
    In hindsight, it was a mistake to switch from Latin to German.
  9. pinerana Active Member

    Mar 11, 2019
    Both of you are essentially proposing Austromarxism. However that was a relatively new ideology and would require a post 1900 POD. This is a quite radical proposal and I can't see it taking off amongst the conservative monarchs and aristocracy nor with the general public.

    Especially not post 1900 if the Austro-Hungarian compromise already happened and you're asking Hungarians to completely give up their part of the empire.
    RMcD94 likes this.
  10. pinerana Active Member

    Mar 11, 2019
    By "break" you mean "militarily put down"? Habsburg's ability to militarily defeat Hungary was never a problem.

    The problem is having your second largest ethnicity under constant occupation and having them resent you and using any chance to overthrow you. The Habsburgs did this post 1848 and they also found that the occupation was quite costly.
    And all for what? To buy favoritism among Romanians and Serbs who'd join their mother country if ever given the chance anyway?

    Quite naive to think that expecting all officials and people who have to interact with officials to know a dead language would solve anything.
    German was only official for 6 years from 1784 to 1790, then it went back to Latin.
    It didn't stop nationalism nor did it prevent the Hungarians and Croats and others to eventually kick out Latin in favor of their own language.
    BigBlueBox and Avalon like this.
  11. kasumigenx Well-Known Member

    May 26, 2009
    I think the Austrians can use the Austrians can use Romanians against Hungarians in Hungary and Poles against Czechs and Ukrainians in Galicia and Bohemia.
  12. pinerana Active Member

    Mar 11, 2019
    Think you misunderstood the topic a bit.

    It's not about creating a POD about how to fix the Empire after the Austro-Hungarian compromise was already in place, but what reform plan could've passed instead of the Austro-Hungarian compromise.
  13. oofo Well-Known Member

    Apr 8, 2014
    No other reform plan could have realistically passed in 1867. The monarchy was in shambles after the Austro-Prussian war and the Hungarians wouldn’t have settled for anything less than what they historically got. The compromise happened because the Hungary was in a strong position to reestablish a large degree of sovereignty and likely would have revolted against the Austrians had this not happened.

    So an alternate PoD would be needed.
  14. pinerana Active Member

    Mar 11, 2019
    I wouldn't be quite that sure as the OTL deal was quite rushed, the Emperor just wanted to deal with the Hungarians quickly so he could go back to war with Prussia, and the Hungarians have gotten the most generous deal anyone could've given them.
    It was negotiated quite literally only between the emperor and 2 Hungarians, there was nobody to advise the emperor to take a more reasonable alternative.

    But if you want a different POD I'll give you one:
    1848 the Russian Tsar has developed a serious throat cancer and cannot act properly on his state duties. Meanwhile the liberal revolutions in Europe are raging.

    In the Austrian empire the German liberals have risen up in Vienna, Hungary is in a general state of unrest, Italian states are in open rebellion and trouble is glooming in Bohemia as well.
    Piedmont and Two Sicilies by popular demand of their people put stand behind Italian nationalism more firmly and give stanch support to Italians rising up in Lombardy and Veneto.
    Hungarians recall their divisions from Italy in order to prepare for setting up of their own republic.
    Hungarians declare independence, Habsburgs not making much progress in Italy and with Vienna under threat from Hungarians pull out of Italy and turn their focus onto Hungary.

    Meanwhile in Germany a more nationalist minded Prussian king accepts the Frankfurt crown and starts solidifying his power within kleindeutschland.
    Italy is federated in the meantime (not sure who excalty leads it as this POD isn't quite developed)

    Without Russian support Habsburgs have a harder time defeating the Hungarians but eventually prevail.

    When all the dust settles Habsburgs find themselves in a new Europe, surrounded by liberal minded nation states and kicked out of their traditional spheres of influence in Italy and Germany.
    Fearful they impose an absolutist centralized rule on their empire.

    The POD idea is that you now figure out what they do next, that they realize that absolutism can't provide long term stability and thus find a reform in the next 20-30 years to better adjust themselves to this new Europe
  15. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2017
  16. pinerana Active Member

    Mar 11, 2019
    I agree, the Corps Areas divisions really would make for a nice divisions of not ethnically based centralized empire with a single parliament in Vienna.
    And I'm in theory very much in favor of a centralized empire, but I'm doubtful that it'd be well received.

    The question is who excalty would this satisfy? Changing the administrative divisions wouldn't erase the existing national feelings, but it could likely increase resentment even more, especially amongst Hungarians.

    The original Yugoslavia tried this and let's just say it didn't sit well with other ethnicities which just saw it as a ploy for domination from Belgrade and the Serbs so eventually they caved to the Croat demands and created this.
    Start of WW2 prevented them from completing this reform so we don't know how it would've played out long term.
  17. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2017
    Another oldie, another goodie.
  18. BigBlueBox Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2017
    Southern California
    I’m happy to see somebody agrees with me on the stupidity of empowering the Serbs and Romanians at Hungary’s expense. I would keep the 1867 compromise mostly the same, but with the establishment of a co-equal Croatian kingdom that covers Dalmatia and Croatia-Slavonia. Herzegovina could potentially be annexed into this third crown depending on how things turn out. The Honved and Landwehr should have never been created either, the K.u.K Common Army should have been the only army.

    Bohemia is going to be a mess later on no matter what. The conflict been Germans and Czechs in Bohemia is Austria’s version of the Catholic - Ulster Protestant conflict in Ireland that ended up scuttling the various Home Rule bills and still causes problems today. Splitting off the Sudetenland and granting autonomy to the Czechlands will piss off the Czechs and leave stranded minorities in both sections. Not splitting it off and granting autonomy pisses off the Germans. Keeping the status quo also pisses off the Czechs.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  19. Neptune IN BAD TASTE

    May 29, 2014
    Sorry to butt in, but what's this? The definition I found online was very vague.
  20. kasumigenx Well-Known Member

    May 26, 2009
    Actually the Poles in Cieszyn and Galicia could be played against the Czechs and Ukrainians.