To the Victor, Go the Spoils (Redux): A Plausible Central Powers Victory

I believe this discussion has gotten a bit out of scope in this thread, perhaps it would be better to start a new thread elsewhere? I'm sure TheReformer already knows what to do with Austria, and even if he doesn't, the current level of attention to detail in the timeline tells me he will know soon enough, and he will have his reasoning as well.
I believe this discussion has gotten a bit out of scope in this thread, perhaps it would be better to start a new thread elsewhere? I'm sure TheReformer already knows what to do with Austria, and even if he doesn't, the current level of attention to detail in the timeline tells me he will know soon enough, and he will have his reasoning as well.
Something like a discussion about a possible breakup of Austria-Hungary with a POD during the Kaiserschlacht?
I believe this discussion has gotten a bit out of scope in this thread, perhaps it would be better to start a new thread elsewhere? I'm sure TheReformer already knows what to do with Austria, and even if he doesn't, the current level of attention to detail in the timeline tells me he will know soon enough, and he will have his reasoning as well.
Tbf I really wanna know what the reformer wants from ah because tbf it can go both ways. I'm just thinking of a collapse scenario rn.
I'm sure TheReformer already knows what to do with Austria
So the most banal cliché I've seen about a Central Powers victory is that Austria will join Germany at some point

It's not an impossibility. (I mean, we know that from what happened in 1938 in our time!)

But it does require a post-war Germany in which the political dynamic is considerably different - i.e., one in which the junkers and the old Prussian military leadership are no longer decisively in control. It would likely require some other developments, too.
France too would not be forced to admit guilt for ‘invading Belgium’ - given Belgium’s Government themselves rejected the prospect and Britain opposed the proposal. They would however be forced to demilitarise a strip east of the Marne river in Lorraine and including the Burgundian gate as a ‘prevention’ measure aimed at limiting French ability to launch a war of aggression against Germany.

Very belated question for you, Reformer: Does the Treaty of Brussels give Belfort to Germany? Or is it a case of France merely losing territory right up to the city limits, and having it demilitarized?

The French fought very hard to retain Belfort at Frankfurt in 1871 - for political reasons as much as for military ones - so I'm genuinely curious.

I saw the impromptu map you hacked up (below), but it is hard to make out where Belfort actually ends up - just barely inside the French frontier, or just barely inside the German frontier?

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Nah I feel having an alt 1930s crash caused by Germany, the US or UK destabilising the global financial markets prob will cause France and Russia to go insane and cause WWII.

PS if a-h collapses do you see Germany annexing Austria and Czechia.
Well one or both would or could go nuts. Question is far left or right?
If AH hits the fan I see Germany taking as many pieces as they can. Which would be modern Austria, Czech and Slovenia as a min
The Habsburg Reckoning I (September 1918 - February 1919)

The Habsburg Reckoning I
September 1918 - February 1919

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was by 1918 very much a shadow of its former self. For centuries the pinnacle of European class, diplomacy, and long before that imperial and military might, the war had taken a vast toll on the Empire.

While it had survived until the end of 1916 on the basis of a civil peace that had been established at the outset of the war, after the death of Emperor Franz Joseph the entire concept of what the Empire was and the Imperial legitimacy of its regime had rapidly begun to erode.

However, while some may look at Austria Hungary and see an ethnic hodge podge of chaos that was doomed to collapse into violent upheaval, this would be a misanalysis and would place far too much emphasis on the nationalist streak that emerged in its body politic after 1900.

In 1918 the Empire had several potentially existential challenges, but to assume Austria-Hungary was destined to implode into ethnic, religious and political violence would be an overestimation of the speed to which states collapse into anarchy. Perhaps putting too much emphasis on the modern phenomenon of ‘people's wars’ and ideological struggles that emerged after the great war across Europe.

By the summer of 1918 the political peace that had dominated the empire had essentially come to an end. Austria-Hungary was ruled by a new Emperor aged just 31. Having had the same ruler for 68 years prior, this was something of a transition for the country to go through.

Immediately upon his ascension, Karl had come under immense pressure in his role. Never a seriously popular individual in the eyes of the imperial public, Karl had served in the military as a commander on the Italian and Romanian fronts, but had always found his successes claimed by German officers leading the Austrian army.

This spoke to one of the major challenges to the Empire. Since the outbreak of the conflict Austria’s fiscal and diplomatic position had become immensely isolated. It had a disjointed Armed forces and a frontline three times the length that Germany faced in the east, and one that remained a war of movement, meaning Austria had come under much greater strain much faster than other belligerents.

German influence over the country made up a major part of this; with the Austrian armed forces facing collapse after the remarkable success of Russia in the 1916 Brusilov offensive, much of the Austrian army had come under the control of the German armed forces directly. Austria’s financial situation too had relied upon German aid to the amount of as much as 100mn marks a month by the end of 1918. This had left the country slowly sliding into more and more dominance by Germany, who by the time of the spring offensive victories had forced Austria into accepting post-war commitments for economic ties and political concessions to Germany.

Meanwhile the Empire was paralysed in its response to this German encroachment, with Emperor Karl desperate to demonstrate his political independence by the end of the war. As early as 1916, half of the bakeries in cities such as Prague had closed for a lack of flour, while housing shortages and runaway inflation also left the women in particular of Austria Hungary’s Cisleithanian cities highly vulnerable to the effects of poverty and starvation. Things were not helped either by Hungary’s refusal to share food stocks with Cisleithania, a consequence of the growing rift between the two halves of the empire and Hungary’s own lack of food.

Hungry people move to desperation quickly. The saying that the world is nine meals from anarchy began to truly show in late 1918 Austria Hungary. Between 1914 and 1918, food protests went from 57 a year to more than 280 protests a year - almost on a daily basis. Queues for bread in major cities quickly saw eruptions of violence, looting and rioting when bakers simply ran out of flour. Imports of grain from Ukraine were limited, with most being sent to Germany instead, rendering the Empire’s plan to feed their people from Russian conquest essentially null and void. Even after the allies eventually did throw in the towel, the Empire had few trading partners, almost no commercial shipping industry, and importing ‘food’ was more complicated than a matter of just pressing a button.

This was only further exacerbated by the refugee influx from the east, particularly Jewish citizens of the Empire’s frontline Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. These citizens, facing attack by Russian soldiers in 1916, had fled to the west away from the battlefields with the Romanian and Russian armies - only to find themselves subject to xenophobia or even unfair blame for the shortages in the cities.

Xenophobic german nationalist youth organisations in Bohemia in particular demonstrated the dangers of the food shortages and how they affected the political balance of the Empire. Known for their particularly anti-semitic campaigns and posters, the groups made it their mission to cause as much misery as possible to the Empire’s bohemian Czechs, Jews and other slavs.

Differences in identity among the empire’s many constituent ethnic groups also led to increasingly more conflicting expectations for the war’s outcome. The Hungarians had not wanted to join the war, and then-Prime Minister Istvan Tisza had only agreed to the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia in 1914 after the Austrian Government assured him that in victory there would be no further annexations of Slavic land. For Hungary therefore the war was about survival and retention of Magyar authority over their traditional lands.

For the Czechs meanwhile, the war was about autonomy and proving their worth as a constituent part of the empire - a part worthy of its own legislature and independent financial and parliamentary status. This was not to say the Czechs wanted independence - in fact even when Karl was crowned in 1916 the Czech Union of political parties established just days prior to the death of Emperor Franz Joseph had made clear that they saw “No future without the constitutional leadership of the Habsburg scepter”.

For the South Slavs meanwhile, including the Serbs and Croats, the war was about gaining more influence and autonomy - perhaps even becoming a constituent part of a ‘trialist’ three-part Empire of Austria-Hungary-Croatia. Croatia had been the sole other entity other than the Hungarians to have autonomy prior to the war; they now sought to build on that and these goals had largely not changed during the war.

But, in a sharp contrast to this, the Germans of the Empire sought to finally ensure their dominance of the Empire as a fundamentally ‘German’ state. German nationalist parties, now fractured into various parts after 1917 from the original ‘German National Association’, had by 1916 with the ascension of Cisleithanian Minister-Presidents Count Heinrich Clam-Martinic and Ernst Seidler von Feuchtenegg secured their policy goals for the Empire’s future. They sought to affirm German as the official language of Cisleithania, to grant the Kingdom of Galicia Lodomeria autonomy and exclude it from the Imperial Diet, and to subject German minority rule upon the predominantly Czech Bohemia - in effect ‘Germanizing’ Cisleithania.

Both Clam-Martinic and Seidler had endorsed these policies during the mid period of the conflict, though with Seidler’s fall from grace in July 1918 and the appointment of the more moderate and pro-autonomy Max Hussarek von Heinlein this Germanization policy was put on hold. However, this did not stop domestic sentiments from stirring among the German-speaking population; notably including broad celebration among the right over the conviction of prominent Czech politician Karel Kramar in 1916 for Treason - despite his eventual amnesty in 1918.

This conviction and the celebration of it was seen as something of a death knell to the Empire among the Czech academia. They viewed the hardliners as taking a policy of ‘violence’ over ‘discussion’, but Emperor Karl would try to change this during the last months of the war. Karl, along with other political groups such as the Social Democrats, recognised that the only way for the empire to remain whole would be for a large degree of autonomy to be handed out throughout the Empire, with the Socialists having as early as 1914 called for just that. Unfortunately though Socialist backing in the Imperial diet as it stood was small - representing just 46 of the Imperial Diet’s 516 seats after the 1911 elections. Further too, Socialist and trade unionist leaning politicians had been expelled from the Hungarian Parliament, who remained firmly against autonomy and the dismemberment of Hungary.

Thus, in 1918, Austria-Hungary faced a three-fold series of challenges. It faced massive economic degradation, inflation and currency devaluation - all three having further exacerbated the food situation which in Vienna and other Austrian/Bohemian cities left millions on the brink of starvation. It suffered massive German political influence owing to the country’s financial and military reliance on Germany for the prior two years. Third, it suffered from a lack of political direction, with that German influence having further worsened relations between Transleithania and Cisleithania - threatening a post-war split of the Empire that could only be resolved with mass autonomy; which itself may split the Hungarians off from the Empire.

The country’s large Serbian population did somewhat resent Austrian rule, but were largely locked out of local administration, military service and access to any means of toppling their ‘occupiers’ institutionally or really even militarily. It is no coincidence that throughout the entire war there was not one uprising in Bosnia or Croatia against Austrian and Hungarian occupation by the Empire’s Serbian citizens. The fact was many were apathetic to the goals of the Serbian state. This was often because of a lack of education or wealth to enable political calculation, many of the empire’s Serbs largely being poor peasants.

While of course there were some areas that did feature larger, more cosmopolitan middle class populations of Serbs, these were primarily in the cities of Croatia where Serbs and Croats largely lived together in relative harmony and had a degree of autonomy. Importantly, the Serbs played a role in their own governance via the Croatian Parliament; the Sabor, where many were part of the ruling Croat-Serb Coalition.

There was also the issue that Bosnia and Croatia were primarily occupied by Hungarian or German troops - with the same being said for Dalmatia. While there was a Croatian wing of the Hungarian Army that was mostly autonomous, it was never large and by 1918 had suffered serious losses to attrition and desertion. This meant that a large ‘green army’ armed even with light artillery had emerged in the hills and forests of Central Croatia made up of apathetic bandits trying to avoid military service and set on burning down and looting aristocratic houses. This limitation of Serbian military service was intentional in order to prevent an ethnic uprising led by those troops, and frankly so few Serbs even served in the Austro-Hungarian army that it mattered little anyway.

The Serbs within the Empire, like the Croatians, by 1918 for the most part just wanted a form of autonomy. The Croatian and Serbian parties of the Sabor should also not be considered avid backers of the idea of a unified Serb, Slovene and Croat state. In fact they never signed onto the plan and by 1918 with the plan’s evident collapse due to the German victory, while they still desired autonomy, the Croats certainly had no desire to unify with Serbia.

In the east meanwhile nationalist tensions were more prominent - primarily among the Poles. With a Polish state having been established by the Germans and Austrians in 1916, by 1918 many Galician Poles sought to unify with their new state, which created clashes over control of key ethnically contested cities such as Lwow/Lviv/Lemberg.

This was particularly difficult for the Austrians as during the early period of the war it had seemed likely that the conflict would conclude with Poland being made into a member Kingdom of the Habsburg domain. Unfortunately for the Austrians though, their ‘Austro-Polish’ solution as it had become known would by 1918 be seen as essentially dead. The German high command, deeply disappointed with their constantly failing ally, had long sought to undermine Austria’s goal - primarily as Poland was simply too central to the security of the eastern German border and their planned sphere in the Russian periphery.

This further exacerbated the uncertainty over the future of Polish Galicia, which was only worsened by the long existence of the ‘Polish Military Organisation’ established by Jozef Pilsudski in 1914. While initially an illegal paramilitary group, the force had become semi-legal during the war as a means for the Central Powers to tap into Polish manpower. This changed quickly during the ‘Oaths Crisis’ in July 1917 when Germany attempted and failed to establish a loyal Polish army, which refused to swear an oath to the Kaiser, prompting Pilsudski’s arrest and the force going back underground.

The creation of a Ukrainian state by Germany and Austria further degraded the situation in Galicia too, by prompting concern among both cultural groups that the other may end up taking more than they should in any final peace settlement. This prompted the PMO to establish a large underground network of forces throughout west galicia during the last year of the war, now under the command of experienced military officer and nationalist Edward Rydz-Śmigły.

The Czechs meanwhile hosted by far the most nationalistic and active campaign for autonomy, or even nationhood. While few Czechs had thought a Czech state was possible before 1918, by late in the year many sought an independent place to call their own, and the idea that they should be unified with the Slovaks too became entrenched. This was largely on the back of advocacy by Tomáš Masaryk, who had lived in Britain since before the conflict. This made Czech calls for autonomy doubly problematic, as it clashed with Hungarian desires to magyarize Slovakia and retain unity within Transleithania, and with the German Sudetenland being an issue of contention among Germans in Austria proper.

The issue was, any Bohemian Parliament would also host a large constituency of German speakers, and the Germans in Austria proper did not want Bohemian Germans to be ruled over by a majority-elected Parliament of Czechs - and thus vetoed all proposals towards the idea. Equally though, the Czechs would not accept a purely Czech Parliament for only the Czech parts of Bohemia, because such a legislature would not be able to control the industrialised and wealthy German parts of Bohemia - leaving the Czechs with far less status within the empire and far less tax revenue to distribute. This would arguably leave the Czechs financially worse off than before, not to mention most Czechs saw Bohemia as their cultural de jure territory, regardless of German citizens being a majority in some areas.

While the war had certainly strained the relationship between the Austrian and Hungarian Imperial Governments, the issue was less that the two Governments could not cooperate - but that Hungary’s people simply did not want to. You see, Hungary had long maintained a comically small electoral franchise which had allowed the Liberal Party and its successors under the likes of Istvan Tisza to remain in power. Supporters of the Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich, the Liberals faced constant opposition from Hungarian nationalists who were intentionally locked out of power via this miniscule franchise of around 8% of the population.

However, the nationalists under Ferenc Kossuth did eventually break into power with a landslide victory in 1906, but were unable to make any political gains during their four years in power due to the influence of Emperor Franz Josef, and quickly fractured after gaining power over differing views on what to do with it. The Liberals regained power in 1910 with a surprise landslide victory for the National Party of Work led by Tisza, and until 1917 the political situation remained largely stable with the Liberals forming a national unity Government in 1917 first under Móric Esterházy and then under two time Prime Minister Sandor Wekerle.

Upon Wekerle’s return as Prime Minister, the country was in a state of deep political division due to the difficulties of the war. The economy was at best struggling, if not entirely failing, and the people were tired of the conflict that Hungary’s leaders had not originally wanted to join. To make matters worse, the Empire had become politically dominated by the Prussian Germans who increasingly directed its economy and military, further alienating Hungarian frontline soldiers who felt less part of an Austro-Hungarian army than a German-Austrian one. Given that since the 1840’s Hungary’s prime issue was that they felt held hostage by an alien people who spoke a different language entirely and lived very different lives, this greatly worsened the harmony in the Empire.

The main demand for the Hungarian populace thus by 1918 became the imposition of universal suffrage. For the Liberals and the Emperor this was a deeply dangerous prospect, as the odds were that such a franchise would lead to the rapid demise of the Augsleich. It is worth noting though that even the most avid backers of universal suffrage did not advocate giving the Slavs within Hungary the vote. One such advocate, Count Mihály Károlyi, spent much of the war advocating against it, and championed the cause of universal suffrage - but even he did not want to undermine the Magyar rule of Hungary.

Like Károlyi, the nationalist party of Kossuth, largely led by rabid but still aristocratic nationalists like Count Albert Apponyi, had long advocated for a split with Austria - a point that had only become more popular and seen as necessary as the war dragged on. This was largely because Hungary deemed the conflict as one they had been dragged into somewhat against their own will, with Istvan Tisza having only agreed to the Serbian invasion under the assumption it would be brief.

While Tisza later flip flopped on the no annexations policy, ultimately demanding minor territorial changes off Romania as compensation for their declaration of war on the Empire in 1916, Hungary throughout the war stood with little to really gain in practice. This was especially true when it became clear in 1918 that almost all of Austria-Hungary’s war aims would be overruled by Germany’s own goals - with oil and coal fields in Serbia, Romania and Ukraine all being destined for German extractors, not Austro-Hungarians. The rise of German influence over Austria’s military branch of the Empire also left Hungary feeling pushed around by the German speaking half of the Empire, and thus with Austria’s new Emperor looking towards a policy of federalization, many Magyars felt that the territorial integrity of their highly multicultural half of the Empire was being threatened by Vienna.

This meant that most Hungarians, and more importantly most Hungarian politicians, had since moved to advocate a total split from Austria. While few if any sought the end of the Monarchy, with the most radical and socialist leaning likes of Károlyi even opposing this, Hungary would in their minds be better served as a totally independent state - albeit with Emperor Karl as a nominal head of state. Thus, the introduction of universal suffrage could very well destroy the empire - just as autonomy could also if Hungary were scared by whatever the Emperor proposed.

While the war for Austria essentially ended with Italy’s acceptance of proposed armistice negotiations on August 3rd, the conditions of that armistice meant that the military could not be demobilised for months while negotiations dragged on - in case hostilities flared up again. Thus, throughout the negotiations period the Austrian Army found itself suffering immense bouts of desertion and mutiny.

Stuck in the Alps and the foothills of the Austrian Littoral, the troops grew more tired of their circumstances day by day; eating poor if any rations, suffering the wrath of their officers and sometimes not even receiving pay - all while being stuck in poorly built, frozen mountain forts. This only worsened when Hungary’s own army upped and left prior to the signing of the Treaties in Vienna and Zurich, their political leaders having grown tired of Austrian instruction. Thus, Austria was essentially saved by the Germans - but while Germany could prevent an Italian attack they could not stabilise the Empire for the Emperor.

When the Treaty of Zurich was finally signed on November 23rd, days after Vienna, many rejoiced but little changed in their homeland. The Empire may have won the war on paper, but was defeated in the hearts and minds of most of its citizens.

Desperate to salvage the situation, Emperor Karl quickly moved to take decisive action on the country’s main political disputes. Issuing what would become known as his Volkermanifest - People’s Manifesto - on the 25th, he announced a plan to federalize the Cisleithanian half of the Empire. This in practice meant that the Slovenes, Czechs, Poles and Ukrainians would get their own distinct regional legislatures - along with even some German regions if they wished for one.

For some, this was a very welcome move. Autonomy in regions like Dalmatia and Croatia had worked very well in the past and for many Czechs it seemed promising that they might actually be given some kind of favourable settlement. Elsewhere though, the move was met with mixed or outright hostile responses. The policy flew right in the face of the large and now very powerful pro-German lobby in the country of the former German National Association, who as you may recall had sought a Germanisation of the state, and the impact of that was felt immediately.

Bohemian Despondency
It’s ironic, given the support for autonomy held by the Czechs, that the most gravely affected area of all would be Bohemia. German Bohemians, who made up 20% of Bohemia’s population, had long opposed the idea of a federal system in Cisleithania. The main reason was that to provide Bohemia with its own legislature would require that Germans, who identified as Germans and were governed by Germans, were governed autonomously or near-totally by more populous Czechs.

While no doubt the Bohemian Germans and Czechs had far more in common than a German in Vienna may have had with a Czech, the political system of the country meant that the loud minority of Germans in Bohemia who were particularly vocal in their opposition to the plans were the first to be heard. The response to the volkermanifest in the heavily German region of Egerland and the city of Karlsbad, for example, was violently hostile.

Germans were quick to protest the announcement, prompting the eruption of part bread, part political rioting in Karlsbad and the city of Eger. After all, it always starts with bread. The idea appalled the German people who considered themselves German, were ruled by a German empire, and had fought for their empire at great cost during the war - often against their slavic neighbours who volunteered or defected to the French and Russians. Throughout the war false rumours of mass desertions of Czech units had fuelled anti-Czech sentiment among the Empire’s right-leaning German populace; now that anger reached a new level.

While of course some would back the policy as a pragmatic solution, or simply would at the very least wait to see if they would get their own autonomous zone separate to the Czechs, a very large and vocal minority of angry German-speaking citizens and representatives quickly would call for their city and town councils to reject the idea entirely in mass protests.

Councillors associated with the German National Association for example, who had competed in the 1911 elections and had at one time 2/3rds of their entire national membership in Bohemia alone, quickly rejected the Emperor’s plans. Throughout Bohemia and Moravia Imperial Councillors and Mayors alike called for separation from the Czech part of Bohemia, and retention of direct rule from Vienna.

While the German National Association had largely collapsed in 1917 into approximately 17 different parties, their representatives still remained. This, if anything, made things even less controllable, with MPs such as Gustav Groß from Moravia - the DNA’s former leader and current President of the House of Representatives - openly rejecting the Emperor’s proposals when the Emperor was forced to recall the Imperial Council on the matter, one of his early but inevitable political concessions to the many different factions in the country.

The Emperor faced the issue too that any decision to federalize the empire would inevitably require approval from the legislature to complete, if not just for the sake of constitutional legitimacy, but also for the sake of providing detailed scrutiny and preparation for the policy. After all, while the Empire was largely run from Vienna and the Royal Palaces within it as part of the ‘war state’ during the conflict, there was no way the political factions within the Empire would let an Emperor that so many disagreed with so vehemently to determine the new constitutional settlement. Much of the administration of the empire was also handled by the civil service and legislature who had suspended themselves during the war to stop themselves ‘getting in the way’ - now they insisted on blocking the path.

Recalled during the last week of November, the Emperor faced the issue in the legislature that with no individual ‘nationalist’ party to speak to, he could not easily negotiate with any one party or make concessions to any one leader without another frothing at the mouth from another direction. He also could not easily call elections, as by doing so the result may be even less in his favour than the current legislature’s make up - with the socialists being expected to heavily outperform their previous results, alongside the nationalists who quickly began to re-organise the German National Association to counter a new vote.

Regardless, given that the DNA had originally desired to split Bohemia into three parts, it was doubtful that a single Bohemian legislature would ever get their backing. Thus within two weeks of attempting to convince the right, the Emperor instead sought the counsel of the Socialists, who had a reasonably large backing in Bohemia and had called for a federal solution as early as 1914.

However, this alienated the Christian Social Party, who throughout the war had seen the rapid emergence of a large republican faction within their bloc keen to see greater cooperation with Germany rather than a stale, ineffective imperial system on the verge of being dominated by other minorities. As the largest party in the German part of the Empire and a conservative, pro-German bloc too, this created a divide between the Emperor and the right wing parties needed to maintain his Government in the Reichsrat.

Ironically, the Christian Social Party was actually pro-federalization, and had been since 1905. The Minister-President of Austria Max Hussarek von Heinlein was himself a proponent of the volkermanifest and a CS Party member from Pressberg - the home of a very large Slovak minority near the Austrian border. Unfortunately though this policy was quite contentious in the party due to the fear by some more conservative elements of the party that Austria could quite quickly become governed by Slavs, rather than Germans. For your average middle class or elitist German, such an idea was almost disgusting - a consequence of the prejudices about slavic peoples at the time.

This played on the rapidly rising sense of pan-germanism that had emerged during the war as Austrian German soldiers fought alongside and by 1918 often under the command of German forces. After 1917 in fact, virtually all forces on the Tyrolian and even eastern front north of Lemberg had German officers up to a Battalion level. Thus it should be unsurprising that some members of the CSP quite vocally opposed the move - particularly those backing the republican side of the party.

The Czechs meanwhile did not help the situation whatsoever. While often pragmatists who would accept autonomy within the imperial system rather than outright independence, a policy that was largely the brainchild of Czech academic Tomáš Masaryk who had spent the entire war (and a great deal of time before it) in London. However, the concept of ‘Czechoslovakism’ had become a powerful force throughout and even before the war - that being the concept that any Czech state should, like a good smarter, elder brother, drag along his younger and less experienced sibling to show him the ropes at work and give him a head start on life.

The Czechs by 1916 had almost totally tied their movements aimed at both autonomy and nationhood to the idea of bringing the Slovaks along too. This was largely a consequence of Bohemia being relatively small compared to the rest of the empire - threatening to simply make it a ‘province’ of a much larger state in an autonomous system, where with the Slovaks their voice would be significantly strengthened.

The consequence of this nascent ideology and brotherly unity between the Czech and Slovak peoples was that even the autonomists who advocated remaining within the Empire as early as 1917 had made it clear that an autonomous Czech territory would also have to include Slovak autonomy. This was the view pursued by the Czech Union too - a union of Czech political parties established in 1916 and by 1918 largely headed by the aforementioned Karel Kramář who had come to the view that the Czechs needed a large autonomous zone or independence.

To the Hungarians this was both a challenge to their historic territorial rights and their sovereignty within and without the Empire. Hungary, as aforementioned, was a largely conservative, nationalist state whose population were hesitant about the idea of a federal empire and would probably have chosen to go their own separate ways from Austria decades prior if they had been allowed to.

Hungary saw Transleithania as their land which historically had always been theirs. They viewed the compromise of 1867 as making clear that regardless of the views of the Emperor, they should be able to decide the fate of their own territory - and they did not choose to abandon Slovakia. ‘Slovakia’ as a concept was quite a young one, and to surrender such a vast, populous territory which held an abundance of mineral wealth was seen as beyond a step too far for the Hungarian people and state.

So, the Emperor’s Volkermanifest immediately found its first snag. He could either placate the German people whom he was one of, and who were growing increasingly disinterested in keeping him in his role as national figurehead at all and pursue a Germanophile policy. But in doing so, he would upset the spirit of the compromise of 1867, and almost certainly ensure the secession of Hungary from the Empire.

Alternatively, he could back the reformists and the Slavic-speaking peoples of the Empire, and attempt to restrain by force or through diplomacy the Hungarian state - an effort that would probably ensure the survival of the Empire and it’s long term stability, but would invite civil war with Hungary. This, during a time when Austria’s army was actually smaller than Hungary’s and Germany seemed an unreliable partner against Hungary, all while the country faced a massive and existential economic and financial crisis, seemed an almost mind-bogglingly stupid proposal.

The final alternative, to dither politically and do nothing about the constitutional balance of the Empire, also left the Emperor worse off for it was unclear whether the Czech and Polish peoples would permit such delay, or if Hungary would up and leave in the short term. While Karl was a religious man, praying that the issue would just go away over time ran counter to his governing philosophy and nature. He was a man of action, and he thus chose to act.

The Galician Anarchy
One key footnote in the Volkermanifest would prove the most damaging of all. Within the text, which had been published in literally every language spoken in the Empire, it made clear that the Emperor did not endorse the immediate unity of the Polish speaking parts of the easternmost Kingdom in the Empire of Galicia and Lodomeria with the young Polish state being formed on its northern border. However, he would permit the establishment of autonomous administrations to prepare for a transition to possible future unity.

This was something of a ‘fudge’ solution to the Austro-Polish debate after Germany had essentially informed the Austrians in July 1918 that Austria would have to accept military and economic ties after the war - and that the Poles would be able to choose a German King, not an Austrian. The Empire as such had suddenly been put in a position where they had to try and retain the resource rich Polish territories they had, while not being able to unify those Austrian poles with their northern independent Polish brothers.

The same would also be said for the Ukrainian sectors of Galicia, which covered much of the south of the territory, which Karl saw as something of a valueless far flung sector of the Empire that was destined to become a political problem in the long term. Here he would permit local peoples to form councils to prepare for eventual independence or autonomy - whatever seemed to suit the situation later down the line.

While Karl in his mind had the timescale of this being in the ‘several years’ category though, the locals in Galicia had a more pressing timescale in mind. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than in the small city of Lemberg, or Lviv in Ukrainian, and Lwow in Polish.

A highly multicultural city, Lemberg sat in a strange, cosmopolitan sector of Galicia that had historically been Polish but, having been ruled for centuries in a commonwealth that occupied much of modern Ukraine, had only ever really seen Poles dominate in the cities. As soon as a Pole stepped out of the beautiful cityscape of Lemberg into the relatively flat, lush fields of southern Galicia they would find only Ukrainians.

This created something of a quandary. A Pole living in Lemberg would, naturally, see the city as inherently Polish. Whereas a Ukrainian living around the city would inherently see the area as Ukrainian. So when posed with a question over which state should occupy that territory, to both sides the answer seemed obvious - but neither could get their way without dissatisfying the other. Lemberg was deep inside the Ukrainian ‘zone’, meaning if it were to be Polish, it would either need to be within a large Ukrainian zone within a Polish state, or it would have to be an enclave within Ukraine - an impossible solution that neither state would accept.

It did not help too that, for the area, Lemberg was one of the wealthier cities in Galicia. Steeped with history, beautiful architecture and a wealthy enough banking sector, the city would be a prize for any state to seize - particularly two states that had no financial backing and would both need every penny available to establish their own fiscal independence.

For the Polish political leadership in Galicia, the Volkermanifest was a perfect invitation to secure not just independence, but complete domination of the entire Galician region in the aim of establishing a powerful independent Poland - even if under German suzerainty. Thus when the manifesto was published, more or less immediately the city council declared that it would form a Polish state committee and would seek to become part of Poland.

Naturally, this immediately caused chaos. Ukrainians in the city and outside of it, understanding that if Lemberg became part of Poland, they would too, essentially besieged the city. Here, Archduke Wilhelm of Austria, who had long hoped to become King of Ukraine after the war and had somewhat ‘gone native’ among the Ukrainian people, used his position and influence in the Austrian Army to further trigger a decline into violence. The Archduke had in October, anticipating a post-war federal settlement, used his position to deploy several regiments of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen in the region from their original base in Bucovina.

These forces now quickly intervened in Lemberg, seizing control in the dead of night and deposing the Polish committee, instead installing a Ukrainian committee made up of former MPs in the Galician diet of Ukrainian origin and local councillors.

For the Polish populace of Lemberg this was a travesty, and they naturally fought back. Hundreds of students and scouts, lightly armed after raiding a local police station, quickly began to resist their occupiers. Within a matter of days the city was in open revolt, with fighting ongoing in the streets day and night as over 6,000 citizens engaged in a small civil war with their Ukrainian neighbours.

Just a week after the Volkermanifest had been issued on December 2nd, it quickly became clear that Galicia would be a far greater issue than had been anticipated. Still deployed with the vast majority of their forces on the Italian front, Austrian army units would immediately have to be redirected to Galicia.

While this was all under way, within a matter of days an unexpected issue would leave Austrian commanders unsure exactly how to redirect troops to the east. It would ultimately be decided that troops from Ukraine, who were occupying the region, would be moved westwards, while troops from Italy would be deployed through Austria proper and into northern Galicia thanks to Austria’s disjointed rail network which featured different gauges in each half of the Empire.

This became an issue for the troops arriving from the Italian direction though when Józef Piłsudski’s Polish Military Organisation, under the command of Edward Rydz-Śmigły, rose up in western Galicia on December 5th. While Piłsudski was still in jail after his arrest during the war, the PMO’s revolt was fantastically well coordinated and remarkably well armed thanks to the competence of Rydz-Śmigły. Spread already throughout all of the Polish sector of Galicia and having prepared for some kind of military stand since 1917, the group quickly established control over virtually all of north western Galicia - even the city of Krakow whose garrison were quickly surrounded and compelled to surrender after two days fighting.

Habsburg Poles throughout the region quickly showed where their loyalties lay and assisted the revolt, amazingly even including Archduke Karl Albrecht of Austria - the son of the now overlooked Archduke Charles Stephen of Austria who had been educated in Polish throughout his childhood. Karl Albrecht, an officer in the Habsburg Army during the war, had since returned to his lands near Krakow when the revolt erupted without his knowledge. Despite initially almost being jailed by those he would otherwise have assisted during an early morning assault on his estate, he quickly pledged allegiance to the revolt and subordinated himself under Rydz-Śmigły’s command - becoming something of a middleman between the rebels and the Habsburg Government.

Inspired by the heroic fighting of the students of Lemberg and the quick takeover by Śmigły’s forces - living up to his nickname’s meaning. Rail workers throughout the region also called an impromptu and unofficial strike in Galicia, interrupting the advance of reliable Austrian army units from Austria and Bohemia to Galicia where the violence continued. Disinterested in fighting and lacking the numbers, these units largely became paralysed and surrounded by Polish rebels, leading to them essentially becoming immobile or simply unsure of what to do for several days.

Austria, true to form, would soon appeal for German assistance - but this was actually rejected by the German Government. In a rare case of mutually aligning interests, Germany’s civilian Government and their General Staff agreed that assistance to the Austrians on this matter would not be desirable - or at best was something they held apathy towards. While the German OHL, now just the peacetime ‘General Staff’ and still headed by Hindenberg, certainly had no huge desire to see a larger Polish client to their east - they certainly had no desire to send in German troops or even order Austrian troops under their command in Ukraine and Lodomeria to do anything about the revolt. Provided, of course, that the rebels negotiated and accepted that Germany would ultimately dictate the settlement, rather than trying to engage Germany in a war for greater Polish national sovereignty.

The German civilian Government meanwhile had no intention of being Austria’s hammer in a game of whack-a-mole with separatists - especially as the SPD who made up a large part of the German Government believed in the right to self determination. Thus, northern Galicia-Lodomeria remained in something of a bizarre limbo during the first months of 1919. Technically free of Habsburg authority, the territory soon proclaimed itself as a constituent part of the German puppet Kingdom of Poland intentionally so as to strengthen their claim to unity and undermine claims that they were seeking to attack German interests. However, in practice neither Germany, nor Austria recognised this reality; even if neither were willing or able to actually do anything about it militarily.

In southern Galicia-Lodomeria meanwhile the Ukrainian attempts to wrest control from the Habsburgs largely failed. This was almost exclusively because ultimately the Sich riflemen who had enforced these Ukrainian claims were Austrian army units who were quickly told within a week to suspend any operations and cease fighting the Poles. In exchange, a negotiated settlement by Archduke Karl Albrecht saw the Polish also cease their advance towards Lviv in early January, creating an uneasy truce in the region overseen by Imperial troops.

By the end of January, as a result, the conflict was for all intents and purposes over. Polish forces had secured most of western Galicia, seizing most of the Polish speaking sector, while their advance had been halted near Przemysl. Austrian forces meanwhile were stretched thin across the empire, exhausted and sick of the war altogether. Demobilisation had been ordered on December 25th - Christmas day - as the Empire sought to cut costs, leaving hundreds of thousands of Austrian soldiers clueless over what to do with themselves, and leaving the state with fewer soldiers to respond to the secessionist crises in the east.

Hungary For Votes
Meanwhile in the mildly more stable part of the Empire, Hungary was undergoing its first election season since the war began. In the immediate post-war period the country had undergone significant political challenges to its existing electoral franchise.

Throughout the last two years of the war, members of the opposition parties had repeatedly introduced legislation to expand the franchise up from the 8% of the population who could vote. However, then-Prime Minister Istvan Tisza had furiously opposed changes to the franchise, knowing that any such change would be devastating to the power of the Liberal bloc, and the pro-ausgleich part of the political establishment.

This changed with the the ascension of Karl as Austrian Emperor in 1917, who indirectly forced Tisza to resign after he demanded the implementation of universal suffrage in the Kingdom. This endorsement of the expansion of the franchise greatly strengthened the pro-suffrage elements in the Hungarian political establishment, which primarily included the Hungarian nationalist wing.

By late 1918 therefore the new and now three time Prime Minister Sandor Wekerle was forced to concede that amendments to the suffrage would be needed. Tisza, who had remained politically prominent well through the end of 1918, fought a bitter and determined battle to oppose this, but ultimately could do little to halt the demands of the Emperor and, by now, the majority of the Parliament.

Despite endorsing the expanded suffrage though, Wekerle was not totally willing to hand significant political power to the slavic minority in Transleithania - potentially giving their nationalist parties the balance of power in the legislature due to the split Hungarian vote. Introducing a law relaxing the franchise to Parliament in October 1918, his Government opted to give all men aged over 21 the vote - not quite ‘universal suffrage’, but close enough to claim to have followed the Imperial decree. Electoral officials were also instructed to print all ballot papers and registration forms in Hungarian, and individuals campaigning to become elected officials would be expected to speak Hungarian in order to participate in legislative affairs - which were conducted in exclusively Hungarian. This was part of an effort to greatly weaken the ability of non-Hungarian slavs to stand for election, be elected, and then deliver for constituents once elected.

Hungarian parties and local officials also sought to actively suppress the voting rights and access of non-Hungarian citizens. This often involved limiting ballot boxes in primarily slavic-speaking districts, intentionally disqualifying voters for not having the correct papers, or for minor infractions on their registration and identity papers - often due to many slavic peasants being incapable of speaking Hungarian, among other ‘dirty tricks’.

The result meant that in theory, a significant proportion of the population became electors - with the franchise also being extended to veterans of the great war aged under 21. However, of the forty or so percent of the population now able to vote, only around four fifths of those would actually ever become registered due to language and administrative difficulties, largely nullifying the minority status of the Hungarian population within their borders.

However, simply by expanding the franchise so aggressively the Hungarian elections in February 1919 were more or less sure to become the chaotic mess they ended up being. The country would not just have millions of additional voters this election, but also an almost entirely new slate of parties.

Wekerle himself had set about attempting to create a new political alternative to the Liberal-Nationalist divide that had haunted Hungarian politics for decades, rightly understanding that the Liberals would be annihilated on their current platform and thus incorporating them inside his own more nationalist leaning bloc in exchange for moderation on the issue and a greater emphasis on aristocratic rule rather than the dualist divide.

Bringing together various former Party of Work and Kossuth party moderates, shortly after becoming Prime Minister he had established the ‘48 Constitution Party’. This party was a confusing mess, with its name referring to the nationalist revolt of the Hungarians in 1848 - implying it to be separatist - while also being pro-monarchy, and in favour of continued compromise with the Austrians, albeit under an amended form.

For Wekerle, the war had shown that Hungary was both able to and needed to take greater power for itself - but that it should retain close ties with Austria in spite of that to undermine growing German influence. He would retain the backing of former liberals such as János Hadik and even Istvan Tisza himself during his ministry in the buildup to elections in February - though Tisza became increasingly marginalised as time marched on due to his intransigence over the franchise issue.

Wekerle, bizarrely, was also joined also by Count Albert Apponyi in the 48 Constitution Party too - in spite of Apponiye believing far more firmly in separation from Austria. This was largely because both Wekerle and Apponyi were from the same aristocratic background, despite Wekerle having actually been born poor, that had ruled Hungary for centuries - and both now feared the likes of Count Mihály Károlyi who wished to change that.

Apponyi though made up something of a separate wing to the 48 party, and the two wings are therefore historically ranked as being separate in most electoral tallies. Apponyi’s wing advocated similar conservative, religious and magyaricist views - just with a heavier emphasis on independence. As education minister he had spent years imposing magyaricism upon the population, and thus much of his wing were considered hardline reactionaries in the spectrum of parties - albeit nationalist ones.

Meanwhile, Count Mihály Károlyi had grown distant from the rest of the nationalist bloc. While pro-seperation form Austria, Károlyi did believe in maintaining the monarchy - but believed that magyaricism was an immoral practice that would likely destroy Hungary in the long run. He additionally had adopted a significant number of almost socialist policies, advocating more extensive land reform and social welfare, and the limitation of church and state. His anti-war stance had also further alienated him from the rest of the establishment parties - which being the son of one of Hungary’s wealthiest aristocratic families ordinarily one would assume he would be a part of.

Forming the United Party of Independence and '48, also confusingly referring to the 1848 failed revolution, Károlyi sought to play on his pro-peace credentials and call for a more radical shift in political power. However, Károlyi struggled to be taken seriously in political circles. While charismatic, he was a generally ineffective leader and considered by the country’s academics and political class to be something of a dimwit - weakening his effectiveness as a political leader. He did benefit from a lack of institutional acceptance of the still legal but otherwise repressed MSZDP - the Hungarian socialists. The MSZDP, or Social Democratic Party of Hungary, was led by the heavily mustachoid Manó Buchinger, and by 1918 was actually the largest party in hungary by membership alone. However, while it's membership was high, the MSZDP struggled to gain popularity among the nationalist peasantry and other sections of scoiety western socialist parties traditionally relied upon for votes. Instead they were wedded heavily to the trade unions movement, and the pacifist movement - popular primarily in the cities.

Buchinger and the party struggled in the elections for two reasons; first and foremost that their party was fairly leaderless. While officially leader of the bloc, Buchinger was relegated from the decision-making role in the spring of 1918 as the Austrians suddenly looked set to actually win the war thanks to the German offensive in France. While the party itself had been split on the question of war, by 1918 the party had become semi-collectively run by various senior officials such as Ernő Garami, Vilmos Böhm and Sándor Garbai - among others. This indecision, combined with the difficulties of the MSZDP's association with the leftist agitation of communists such as Imre Csernyák and Bela Kun - who had spent the final months of the war arranging soldiers protests and food riots at the behest of Lenin - painted a poor picture among the highly conservative, primarily agrarian Hungarian public. The party's relationship with the banned communists also caused internal division, sparking arguments between different wings seeking to cooperate with or outright oppose their more radical ideological colleagues - fearing backlash, or believing that splitting the left further would only damage the party's change at success further.

One of the few parties that survived the war was the Catholic People’s Party under Aladár Zichy. The CPP, a rapidly declining force during the early 20th century, was able to capitalise somewhat on the collapse of the major Liberal v Nationalist blocs in Hungary - surviving another day even if only as a very junior part of the political establishment.

Romanian and Slovak nationalists meanwhile gained a significant backing during the last months of the war and into the new year - ensuring that even with the new gerrymandered and magyaricised electoral system they would see gains in the coming poll thanks to the new franchise.

A new entry to the scene would be the National Labourers Party under Anarcho-Syndicalist Ervin Szabó, a radical who had at one point been on the verge of attempting assassination against Istvan Tisza in 1917 before he resigned as Prime Minister. The Labourers, while hardly a prominent force, would join the messy rhetorical period of the election as dozens of smaller, ordinarily electorally unviable parties sought to capitalise on the new franchise rules.

The campaign period though, in spite of the new franchise, was remarkably quiet and uneventful. Hungarian democracy had always been low key, and with so many inexperienced new voters, while fringe figures would constantly be seen pasting posters up in the country’s cities and speaking to voters on the streets, very few of the major political figures joined the fray. This largely worked against the establishment parties - though in reality the result would never be in question.

The biggest surprise of the election was that Károlyi’s public speaking and limited adoption of a more public style of rhetorical campaigning greatly benefited his relatively small political force. While seen as useless among the elite, the public did not know much of his political ineptitude, and therefore bought his promises of land reform - gaining significant prominence among the peasantry and working classes for his soft socialism and opposition to the war and augsleich.

Károlyi’s United Party of Independence performed surprisingly well, going from Károlyi’s original peace group in the Parliament of around 20 MPs to 87 - and securing 22% of the vote. This would secure Károlyi’s position as leader of the opposition against the 48 Constitution Party under Wekerle, who took 233 seats and 46% of the votes - a healthy majority but one defined by Apponiy’s bloc which made up nearly 160 of the elected representatives.

The Catholics and Labourers would win 18 seats with 4% of the vote, and 2 seats with 2% of the vote respectively - gaining some parliamentary representation and generally defying the major parties but failing to make any significant splash. The more mainstream MSZDP socialist party meanwhile would gain a greater number of seats, winning in 16 urban constituencies by wide margins. However, the party's base being so tied to the trade unions movement meant that it's public popularity was very limited - and in a constituencies based electoral system therefore the bloc struggled to gain a large number of seats despite winning some 15% of the vote.

The nationalists meanwhile made great gains, with the Romanian National Party winning 17 seats and 7% of the vote - up from just 1.2% of the vote in 1910. The Slovaks meanwhile would win 10 seats and 3% of the vote - more modest gains but still a significant rise from the 0.7% of the vote they had previously won.

Meanwhile one of the biggest ‘minor’ victors would not be a party at all, but the slate of independent candidates in favour of the 1867 settlement identified historically as the ‘Independents for '67’. This group, while not a party, won 27 seats and 5% of the population - some modest but notable gains largely due to the absence of any clear ‘67 party remaining after the dissolution of the pre-war party system. The group of Independents for '48 meanwhile fell back to just 3 MPs and less than 1% of the vote, reflecting the slide in the party system towards their ideological constituency.

This meant that Wekerle and his Constitution party would fairly easily dominate the political scene in Hungary for the time being, and gave Wekerle a mandate to govern the country how he saw fit - provided the hardliners agreed anyway.
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Also for the record, that update (and part two) took maybe 50 to 100 hours of research and writing to complete. Let nobody say I don't research my stuff 😂
I'll check and get back to you on that - I'm fairly sure it's outside the new borders.

Thanks. :)

Given the special place Belfort held in French military esteem - mythology? - due what happened in 1870-71 - it is the kind of thing I could see any French government at that point sticking hard on it, like they did (and because they did) in 1871. But if they get their way, it would probably cost them somewhere else, and the Germans seem likely to insist on at least a short term demilitarization of the city...

But happy to see what you come up with!
Interesting, in a way while obviously the AH empire suffered a tremendous loss this might have been the best thing to occur.

Mainly because by the end everyone lost faith in them in Galicia, the Austrian army massacred over thirty thousand civilians during their awful retreat from Russia, The Ruthenians for being seen as Russian spies and then subsequently feeling starved and forgotten besides the purges, the Polish lost faith for becoming a joint partner of the empire and saw the German empire gain their own puppet Poland then get a chance to expand the empire, the Jews increasingly felt the brunt of war anti Semitism ect I very much doubted it could continue to be apart of the empire without a lot of bloodshed so it being lost now while the empire is still adjusting is not the worst case.

Though the question of what next will be a big thing as with losing this much of Galicia the question of being able to feed itself without being hopelessly dependent on Germany for their vassal states will be challenge.
As a Ukrainian it a bit saddens me to see that Poles will likely get all of Galicia in the end. Eastern and Southern Galicia had Ukrainian majority in rural areas and outside of a big cities:coldsweat:
I'd still prefer to have Ukraine without Galicia 80 years earlier, than no Ukraine whatsoever until 1991, but I am from Donbas, so I might be biased there.
Great story anyway, keep going.
Also for the record, that update (and part two) took maybe 50 to 100 hours of research and writing to complete. Let nobody say I don't research my stuff 😂

No, you really did your homework here, and it shows. I think your timeline here is not implausible, given the outcome of the war and its circumstances.

In the end, the endgame is bound to follow Argo logic, and you can only hope they actually choose "the best bad option."

Curious if you'll get around to sorting how things play out in the Baltics and Finland. These won't be nearly as messy as Austria-Hungary, but obviously, not friction-free, either. Carlton Bach did some research for his own alt-Great War timeline which may be helpful here.
Good chapter, good chapter, but as a Hungarian, who read a lot about the political history of the country during the dualist period (for a timeline I will never have the will to write) I have to point out some things that I found at least unlikely or in a few cases even outright wrong. These aren't by any margin so big to derail your amazing plans (great fan of your timeline by the way), as your research was methodological enough, but more or less nitpicks by someone, who read to much about this period and is too set in ideas about it.

First the clearest and most obvious mistake, Wekerle wasn't an aristocrat. Sándor Wekerle was famously the first commoner (more precisely he was from a family of burghers) to be elected as Prime Minister of Hungary. This still means largely nothing to your timeline, as as he became a career politician, he acclimated to the class which dominated it, aka the magnates. This meant he became a large scale landowner and generally behaved as an aristocrat, but crucially he wasn't one. He tried to become one at least in behavior as he became successful.

On Károlyi you are correct his break from the mainstream of the nationalists was inevitable, he became to much wedded to socialist sounding policies, to remain with them. Although his lack of organisational talent should harm him hard enough, but there isn't a political force in the country which has an organisation and a political platform similar-ish to Károlyi's to help him out to a degree. Wait there is one, but about them later.

On Tisza I am a little bit conflicted, Wekerle throughout his last tenure as Prime Minister complained about Tisza's undue influence over the diet and at certain point he felt that in reality Tisza commands the majority in the assembly. Tisza was a canny political operator and simply sitting behind Wekerle without making a challenge to regain the highest office of the realm sounds unlike him. He had the connection and the political capital to try something and he was power hungry enough to do so. This doesn't mean that there was no chance that Wekerle wouldn't outplay him (you don't become 3 term prime minister without being good at politics), but him sitting in silently behind Wekerle sounds like another person and not István Tisza.

It should also be noted that he wasn't as a big reactionary as you depict him. Sure he wanted to prolong the rule of the hungarian aristocracy eternally, but he unlike many of his fellow party members realised that the current system is untenable even in the short run. In fact, although almost all narrative surrounding the late dualistic hungary omits this, but under Tisza's premiership the electoral law of 1913 was accepted. This was a minor change to the electorate, raising it to ~13% of the total population and wasn't much more than a bone throne to the people arguing for electoral reform, but he was surprisingly willing to go through with that. So him going openly against the "universal" suffrage being introduced, is to me somewhat unlikely, although undeniably possible. In Fact I found it more surprising, that the same diet which did not fail in patting itself on its imaginary shoulders, for their enlightened reform, would actually vote for something as radical as happens here.

And atlast returning top the question to an organised force for reform: What happened to the social democrats? The Social Democratic Party of Hungary was the only true mass party of the country in 1918 and were one of the main pillars of Karolyi's OTL rise to power and were the reason behind his abrupt fall. The only party with a national (if city focussed) organisation and the only one which managed to organise mass strikes and a protests in the last 20 or so years (and also the nationalist parties of the minorities, before I forget them) their lack of gaining seats is highly surprising to me. The social democrats should thrive in this reorganisation of national politics, but now they are outcompeted, by a practically random intellectual from inner city Budapest and his 10 friends who decided to found a party dedicated to a fringe ideology. Alright that's a little bit harsh, as Ervin Szabó was one of the main ideological and intellectual force behind the soon to be (OTL) Communist Party, but so easily sidestepping one of the most organised political force of the country sounds still deeply unrealistic. The MSZDP should be in the national assembly by any metric, and be at least a bit higher then the Labourers which would be a party drawn in a 1000 direction by it's competing ideas about how to make a revolution.

On a similar level I found it unlikely that a small landowners party wasn't founded, as these pro-landreform, but socially conservative parties were very popular in OTL after the war.

Sorry if I'm complaining, but this is one of the few fields in history in which I feel some level of competence and I had to get this out of myself. Once again, a great story and I am very glad that you did not employ the common, but at least false tropes one could have about this period, as you had undoubtedly amazingly well researched the period, just I have my nitpicks.
An excellent, minutely detailed chapter in “The Hapsburg Reckoning I”. There were two interesting facts that jumped out at me that I especially enjoyed learning :
TheReformer said:
“While this was all under way, within a matter of days an unexpected issue would leave Austrian commanders unsure exactly how to redirect troops to the east. It would ultimately be decided that troops from Ukraine, who were occupying the region, would be moved westwards, while troops from Italy would be deployed through Austria proper and into northern Galicia thanks to Austria’s disjointed rail network which featured different gauges in each half of the Empire.”
I knew, as most here probably knew, that the railway gauges between Germany and Russia, for example, were different, for military and security reasons but not that there were different gauges between the two halves of the Dual Monarchy. Since this is new to me, I was wondering if this situation also had any OTL effect on the otherwise rapid Central Powers’s conquest of Romania in 1916 ?
TheReformer said:
“Inspired by the heroic fighting of the students of Lemberg and the quick takeover by Śmigły’s forces - living up to his nickname’s meaning.”
This statement went over my head; I did not see any reference to the meaning of Śmigły’s nickname in the chapter. I could have overlooked it; there was a lot to absorb in this informative chapter. I checked Edward-Rydz-Śmigły out at Wikipedia and the article there listed his nom de guerre as : “Śmigły, Tarłowski, Adam Zawisza”. I was unable to find any of these names’s meanings, if they are the nickname that you referred to, even using a translation service. If it won't be too much trouble, could you elaborate about his nickname ?
Ah, the Hungary of this period. Never change.

I mean, please change, change now, but yeesh, so predictable that they'd be like this.

Not that the Austrogermans are much better. Karl should just pivot and become King of the Slavs and just flip the scripts entirely. Oppress the Germans and Hungarians for a change. :p

(That is not a serious notion just... christ. Fucking nationalism, man)
That was an awesome update. I just hope the situation doesn't become another "Austria-Hungary collapse and Germany puppets the splinters" situation.
Good chapter, good chapter, but as a Hungarian, who read a lot about the political history of the country during the dualist period (for a timeline I will never have the will to write) I have to point out some things that I found at least unlikely or in a few cases even outright wrong
Well volunteered to check my work in the future! Happy to admit my lack of ability to speak Hungarian has somewhat hamstrung me during research into this process, particularly into the Hungarian aspect of it. Sources are rather hard to come by in English-language form, so will gladly take pointers in the future. As some readers may know, I tend to let people familiar with the period per country occasionally look over updates before I post them - so I shall add you to the list for Hungary in the future.

Wekerle wasn't an aristocrat. Sándor Wekerle was famously the first commoner
I'm aware, that is actually something of a poorly communicated sentence I'd say. As you see in the text as it's written;

This was largely because both Wekerle and Apponyi were from the same aristocratic background, despite Wekerle having actually been born poor, that had ruled Hungary for centuries - and both now feared the likes of Count Mihály Károlyi who wished to change that.
The intent was to describe the two as having been from the same aristocratic political persuasion, which they were, though perhaps 'elite' background may have fitted better in this case.

Tisza was a canny political operator and simply sitting behind Wekerle without making a challenge to regain the highest office of the realm sounds unlike him
This is a fair point. From what I had read Tisza had largely fallen out of favour but perhaps in my mind I overestimated the degree to which he had, again due to lack of available sources. Also doesnt help of course that he was assassinated. This sounds like a rather good area to explore for the next update.

It should also be noted that he wasn't as a big reactionary as you depict him. Sure he wanted to prolong the rule of the hungarian aristocracy eternally, but he unlike many of his fellow party members realised that the current system is untenable even in the short run. In fact, although almost all narrative surrounding the late dualistic hungary omits this, but under Tisza's premiership the electoral law of 1913 was accepted.
Helpful to know, though in practice I dont particularly see any meaningful difference in terms of the vast majority of Hungarian voters between 8% and 13%. A five percent increase is easily going to be overlooked by the other 35% or so of the populace who would, ya know, like to vote. Also, I suspect a key aspect in missing this was the bolded area... again; lack of sources.

So him going openly against the "universal" suffrage being introduced, is to me somewhat unlikely, although undeniably possible. In Fact I found it more surprising, that the same diet which did not fail in patting itself on its imaginary shoulders, for their enlightened reform, would actually vote for something as radical as happens here
Again, over-estimation of Tisza's downfall I would say.

What happened to the social democrats?
From Wiki:
The chaos which followed the war resulted in the collapse of the Dual Monarchy. The MSZDP leadership entered into government as part of an unsuccessful post-war socialist administration and subsequently Béla Kun's Communist dictatorship, which carried out a Red Terror against those deemed to be enemies of the revolution and the working class.[4] When the Communist regime collapsed MSZDP supporters were killed in the subsequent anti-Communist backlash. The entire left-wing boycotted the elections of 1920, which resulted in a right-wing victory and continued right-wing government for the inter-war period.

Them not being present throughout the period and not having been elected in 1911, or referenced in any of my research (I primarily focus on pre and during the war information as, particularly with Hungary, the entire country was re-set politically after the war) is why I'll have missed em. The fact they also appeared to split into factions during the war was also unhelpful. Perhaps you can drop me a DM with what you'd vaguely expect them to do in this circumstance and I can either re-work it into this past update, or add it to the next one etc.

Sorry if I'm complaining, but this is one of the few fields in history in which I feel some level of competence and I had to get this out of myself. Once again, a great story and I am very glad that you did not employ the common, but at least false tropes one could have about this period, as you had undoubtedly amazingly well researched the period, just I have my nitpicks.
Tis alright, I don't mind people pointing out areas where I literally dont know what they are referring to due to a lack of information on my end. As you say, the lack of Socialists for example was actually something I found very weird - thus why I added the party under Ervin Szabó. What I don't like is when people come here and go "I don't think this is realistic/plausible" over what essentially amounts to a gut feeling, or simply incorrect information - but that isn't what you've done.

So, as mentioned before, drop me a DM about where the Socialists may have fitted in all this. I honestly dont actually expect they'll have changes stuff that much, so happy to add a para or two and put them in the National Assembly etc - makes my life easier.