The Young Czechs could not take their place: their Radical and anti-clerical tendencies alarmed the Feudalists and Clericalists who formed so large a part of the Right; they attacked the alliance with Germany; they made public demonstration of their French sympathies; they entered into communication with other Slav races, especially the Serbs of Hungary and Bosnia; they demanded universal suffrage, and occasionally supported the German Radicals in their opposition to the Clerical parties, especially in educational matters; under their influence disorder increased in Bohemia, a secret society called the Umladina (an imitation of the Servian society of that name) was discovered, and stringent measures had to be taken to preserve order. The government therefore veered round towards the German Liberals; some of the ministers most obnoxious to the Germans resigned, and their places were taken by Germans. For two years the government seemed to waver, looking now to the Left, now to Hohenwart and his friends; for a time Taaffe really had the support of all parties except the Young Czechs.
After two years he gave up his cautious policy and took a Electoral reform. bold move. In October 1893 he introduced a reform bill. Universal suffrage had long been demanded by the working men and the Socialists; the Young Czechs also had put it on their programme, and many of the Christian Socialists and anti-Semites desired an alteration of the franchise. Taaffe's bill, while keeping the curiae of the feudal proprietors and the chambers of commerce as they were, and making no change in the number of members, proposed to give the franchise in both towns and rural districts to every one who could read and write, and had resided six months in one place. This was opposed by the Liberals, for with the growth of socialism and anti-Semitism, they knew that the extension of the franchise would destroy their influence. On this Taaffe had probably calculated, but he had omitted to inquire what the other parties would do. He had not even consulted Hohenwart, to whose assistance he owed his long tenure of power. Not even the pleasure of ruining the Liberals was sufficient to persuade the Conservatives to vote for a measure which would transfer the power from the well-to-do to the indigent, and Hohenwart justly complained that they ought to have been secure against surprises of this kind.
The Poles also were against a measure which would give more influence to the Ruthenes. The position of the government was hopeless, and without waiting for a division Taaffe resigned.
The event to which for fourteen years the Left had looked The coalition ministry, 1893. forward had now happened. Once more they could have a share in the government, which they always believed belonged to them by nature. Taught by experience and adversity, they did not scruple to enter into an alliance with their old enemies, and a coalition ministry was formed from the Left, the Clericals and the Poles. The president was Prince Alfred Windisch-Grätz, grandson of the celebrated general, one of Hohenwart's ablest lieutenants; Hohenwart himself did not take office. Of course an administration of this kind could not take a definite line on any controversial question, but during 1894 they carried through the commercial treaty with Russia and the laws for the continuance of the currency reform. The differences of the clubs appeared, however, in the discussions on franchise reform; the government, not strong enough to have a policy of its own, had referred the matter to a committee; for the question having once been raised, it was impossible not to go on with it. This would probably have been fatal to the coalition, but the final blow was given by a matter of very small importance arising from the disputes on nationality.
The Slovenes had asked that in the gymnasium at Cilli classes in which instruction was given in Slovenian should be formed parallel to the German classes. This request caused great excitement in Styria and the neighbouring districts; the Styrian diet (from which the Slovene minority had seceded) protested. The Slovenes were, however, members of the Hohenwart Club, so Hohenwart and his followers supported the request, which was adopted by the ministry. The German Left opposed it; they were compelled to do so by the popular indignation in the German districts; and when the vote was carried against them (12th June 1895) they made it a question of confidence, and formally withdrew their support from the government, which therefore at once resigned.
After a short interval the emperor appointed as minister-president Badeni's ministry. Count Badeni, who had earned a great reputation as governer of Galicia. He formed an administration the merit of which, as of so many others, was that it was to belong to no party and to have no programme. He hoped to be able to work in harmony with the moderate elements of the Left; his mission was to carry through the composition (Ausgleich) with Hungary; to this everything else must be subordinated. During 1896 he succeeded in carrying a franchise reform bill, which satisfied nearly all parties. All the old categories of members were maintained, but a fifth curia was added, in which almost any one might vote who had resided six months in one place and was not in domestic service; in this way seventy-two would be added to the existing members. This matter having been settled, parliament was dissolved. The result of the elections of 1897 was the return of a House so constituted as to make any strong government impossible. On both sides the anti-Semitic parties representing the extreme demagogic elements were present in considerable numbers.
The United German Left had almost disappeared; it was represented only by a few members chosen by the great proprietors; in its place there were the three parties - the German Popular party, the German Nationalists, and the German Radicals - who all put questions of nationality first and had deserted the old standpoint of the constitution. Then there were the fourteen Social Democrats who had won their seats under the new franchise. The old party of the Right was, however, also broken up; side by side with forty-one Clericals there were twenty-eight Christian Socialists led by Dr Lueger, a man of great oratorical power, who had won a predominant influence in Vienna, so long the centre of Liberalism, and had quite eclipsed the more modest efforts of Prince Liechtenstein. As among the German National party, there were strong nationalist elements in his programme, but they were chiefly directed against Jews and Hungarians; Lueger had already distinguished himself by his violent attacks on Hungary, which had caused some embarrassment to the government at a time when the negotiations for the Ausgleich were in progress. Like anti-Semites elsewhere, the Christian Socialists were reckless and irresponsible, appealing directly to the passions and prejudices of the most ignorant.