29 SEPTEMBER 1906, Page 7

• THE SITUATION IN HUNGARY. T HE autumn Session of the

Hungarian Parliament is now close at hand, and the stability of the Coalition Government will soon be put to a severer test than was possible at a time when its main efforts were directed to repairing the evils of the Fejervary regime. The first enthusiasm evoked by its accession to power and by the Olectoral triumphs of the Party of Independence has had time to cool, and is giving place to the inevitable disillusion- ment. The Hotspurs of the party regard every moment's delay as a. betrayal of the national cause, and even the continued presence in the Cabinet of so ardent a champion of national rights as Count Apponyi is not enough to check their impatience. Hence there has been some talk in • the last few weeks of the formation of a Radical Party to supply the want of an effective Opposition in the new Parliament. Meanwhile no pains have been spared by members of the Government and by the official Press to emphasise the transitional character of the ttew regime. In the words of Count Apponyi in his great Speech at Jaszbereny on September 8th, the Coalition accepted office on two clear conditions : (1) the national claims are to be postponed till the new electoral law based on universal suffrage gives the national will a chance of expressing itself ; (2) the faits a,ccomplis represented by the commercial treaties are to be loyally accepted, but the nation reserves the right to assert its economic inde- pendence as soon as the period of their validity expires. In other words, not one jot or tittle of the Coalition claims has been renounced ; they have merely been deferred till a more favourable moment presents itself, and it cannot be doubted that as soon as the Transition Ministry has com- pleted its work the crisis will be revived in an acuter form than ever. The immediate issue, then, is how long it will take to complete this work, and how much other legislation will precede the introduction of universal suffrage. For the future of Hungary turns upon the franchise question, and this fact as it emerges more clearly throws into relief the fatal error of judgment of which the Coalition was guilty when it refused to take office last year. In theory it cannot be blamed for such an attitude, since a Constitu- tional Sovereign has no right to impose conditions for the acceptance of office ; but in practice its mistake was revealed by its incapacity for successful resistance, and by the passive attitude of the country to the display of armed force at the February Dissolution. Besides, like master, like man ; while refusing the terms offered by the King, the Coalition itself sought to impose on him the terms on which it would accept office. But for this twofold mis- take, an opportunity would never have presented itself to M. Kris-toffy for putting forward his scheme of universal suffrage, and the Coalition Government would not to-day stand committed to a scheme of reform which the majority of Magyars regard with extreme suspicion. No man living can foresee the precise effects of the measure, or the extent to which it will redress the overwhelming supremacy of the Magyars over the rest of the population. In the circum- stances, the Coalition's refusal to recognise the existence of the new Nationalist Club (i.e., the Roumanian, Slovak, and Serb Deputies) as a Parliamentary party must be regarded as another serious tactical blunder. Twenty-six Nationalists have actually been elected, and, as their leaders justly argue, it is absurd to refuse to admit a fact merely because it is unpalatable. To take an obvious parallel, it is as though the British Parliament had refused to recognise the existence of the new Labour Party. The only possible verdict on such an attitude would have been that the present Cabinet was in- transigent in the extreme.

The uncompromising attitude of the Magyars towards their own fellow-citizens of other races seems hardly logical in view of the policy adopted by the new majority towards the Slays outside the bounds of Hungary proper. (1) An entente with Servia was inaugurated last June by the visit of Budapest journalists to Belgrade, and this incident did at least something to encourage King Peter's Government in its adventurous commercial policy. (2) The Hungarian Press for the past month has been full of a Quixotic effort at fraternisation between Magyars and Czechs. But this has soon ended in a complete fiasco, mainly owing to the course of events in Agram and Fiume. The altered situation in Croatia is not the least remarkable effect of the Coalition's accession to power, and deserves more attention than is 1 usually given to it, in view of the unforeseen developments of the past month. On August 2$th the Town Council of Agram, in connexion with the intended visit of the Emperor to Bosnia, passed a unanimous vote in favour of the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia. On September 4th a gathering of Sokolists (or members of gymnastic societies) was held at Agram, and, as a practical proof of the so-called "Slav solidarity," representatives of the Czechs, Poles, Slovenes, Dalmatians, Bulgarians, Serbs, and Montenegrins took part in the festival. All went well until several hundred of the Sokolists, returning home through Fiume, indulged in a noisy, demonstration in the streets of the town. In defiance of the official veto, they marched through with music and banners, crying "Long live Croatian Fiume !" The natural result was a riot, in which the banners were torn, revolvers fired, a café demolished, and at least fifty persons wounded. These incidents have brought once more into prominence the old dreams of a Great Croatia, which should include Dalmatia, Fiume, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Istria, and part of Carniola. This raises a whole crop of delicate questions. For instance, the Ausgleich of 1868 between Hungary and Croatia treats Dalmatia as legally part of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia- Slavonia-Dalmatia, and Section 65 pledges Hungary to work for its reincorporation, whereas' Dalmatia actually remains in the possession of Austria. Bosnia and Herze- govina are, of course, ruled by the joint Austro-Hungarian Government, and their official name is "the occupied terri- tories," while the Sultan still continues to be their nominal Sovereign. No final revision of the Ausgleich would be possible without both questions being raised, and they are infinitely complicated by the bickerings of Croats and Serbs, with their rival Utopias of an Illyrian kingdom and a Servian Empire, not to mention the aspirations of the kingdom of Servia, which regards the Bosnians as its own flesh and blood.

But the most thorny question of all, and that which supplies the key to the situation on the Adriatic coast, is the possession of Fiume, which has long been the subject of heated discussion. Fiume, which fell to the house of Austria as early as 1465, was assigned by Maria Theresa in 1776 to Hungary, but under special conditions, as separatum sacrae regni coronae adne:cum corpus. From 1848 to 1867 the town was held by the Croatians, who claim that it forms an integral part of the Triune Kingdom. In the Ausgleich of 1868 between Hungary and Croatia Fiume is recognised as a separate body under the Hun- garian Crown, and its autonomy and administration are to be settled by a joint understanding between the Hungarian Parliament, the Croatian Diet, and Fiume itself. On this clause Croatia bases a legal claim to Fiume, which is by no means obvious. Meanwhile the town has retained its munici- pal autonomy and Italian as the official language, under a Hungarian Governor, and its Deputies sit in Parliament at Budapest, though the Croatian Diet reserves two seats for them at Agram. Hungary, convinced of her legal title to Fiume, has acted since 1868 on the principle that posses- sion is nine points of the law. Very large sums have been expended in making Fiume into a worthy competitor of Trieste, and a suitable outlet for the country's trade. Indeed, almost all that Fiume is it owes to the Govern- ment of Budapest. The citizens, who are Italian. with an admixture of Italianised Croats, object strongly to the Croatian claims, and if any change had to be made from the status quo, would almost certainly -prefer union with the kingdom of Italy. The National Party, which governed Croatia for the last twenty years, accepted existing conditions, and worked hand-in-hand with the Liberal Party in Hungary itself. The Opposition in Croatia meanwhile always stood for the Pan-Croat ideal, especially the Radical group under Starcevic, by-whose name the party is now distinguished. When the Opposition to Count Tisza's Government came to a head in thecrisis of 1905, the United Croatian Opposition espoused the cause of the Coalition, and the "Resolutions of Fiume," in which they defined the minimum of concession which would satisfy them, mark a turning-point in the relations of Hungary and Croatia. Throughout last winter the Resolutionist Party, as they came to be called, remained true to the Coalition, and thus disappointed those who fancied that Croatia would play the same Austrophil part as in 1848. The same elections which resulted in the triumph of the Party of Independence in Hungary proper swept away the old National Party in Croatia ; and since May the Resolu- tionists have controlled a majority in the Diet of Agram. As so often in the past, old feuds have been laid aside, and for a short time it seemed as though the two sister-nations had sworn eternal amity. To those who weie deceived by appearances the incidents of Fiume must have come as a rude awakening, for the Starcevic Party and the Resolu- tionists are at one in glorifying the action of the Sokolists, and in echoing the cry of "Long live Croatian Fiume ! " Needless to say, the last thing which the Coalition or any other Hungarian party is prepared to do is to surrender the only seaport which Hungary possesses. The much vaunted reconciliation between Croat and Magyar would appear to be skin-deep, and this is all the more serious now that the Hungarian Government has connived at the destruction of the old r4gime, and handed over the reins of government. in Croatia to the extremist factions. Unless the old rivalry of Croat and Serb breaks out once more, Croatia may cause the Hungarian Government a great deal of trouble in the near future.

This is only one of the many difficult problems which face the Wekerle Ministry. Educational reform, the housing problem, revision of the Press laws, strengthening of municipal autonomy, measures dealing with agrarian unrest, and the alarming growth of emigration are questions a solution of which must speedily be attempted. But above all these towers the phantom of universal suffrage, which nothing can now dispel. Its logical outcome is a modified policy towards the non-Magyar races, on whom it will bestow some share of political power,—for the first time since Hungary became a modern State. The Magyar dream of replacing the Ausgleich by a personal union can only be realised if the entire nation without distinction of race presents a united front to the outside world. Internal harmony is impossible so long as one half of the nation makes the absorption ' of the other half its main object in life,—so long as one race retains a monopoly ot political and administrative power ; and until this harmony is secured Hungary will never be strong enough to stand alone. The Magyars can use Vienna against the nation- alities, or the nationalities against Vienna ; they cannot resist them both together. Thus the two problems of the franchise and the nationalities supply the key to the whole future of Hungary.