This is one reason for the comparative weakness of Austria as compared with Hungary, where the Delegation is elected by each House as a whole; the Bohemian representatives, e.g., meet and choose 10 delegates, the Galicians 7, those from Trieste 1; the Delegation, is, therefore, not representative of the majority of the chamber of deputies, but includes representatives of all the groups which may be opposing the government there, and they can carry on their opposition even in the Delegation. So it came about in 1869, that on the first occasion when there was a joint sitting of the Delegations to settle a point in the budget, which Hungary had accepted and Austria rejected, the Poles and Tirolese voted in favour of the Hungarian proposal.
As soon as these laws had been carried (December 1867), The Bürger Ministerium. Beust retired from the post of minister-president; and in accordance with constitutional practice a parliamentary ministry was appointed entirely from the ranks of the Liberal majority; a ministry generally known as the "Bürger Ministerium" in which Giskra and Herbst - the leaders of the German party in Moravia and Bohemia - were the most important members. Austria now began its new life as a modern constitutional state. From this time the maintenance of the revised constitution of 1867 has been the watchword of what is called the Constitutional party. The first use which the new government made of their power was to settle the finances, and in this their best work was done. Among them were nearly all the representatives of trade and industry, of commercial enterprise and financial speculation; they were the men who hoped to make Austria a great industrial state, and at this time they were much occupied with railway enterprise. Convinced free-traders, they hoped by private energy to build up the fortunes of the country, parliamentary government - which meant for them the rule of the educated and well-to-do middle class - being one of the means to this end.
They accepted the great burden of debt which the action of Hungary imposed upon the country, and rejected the proposals for repudiation, but notwithstanding the protest of foreign bondholders they imposed a tax of 16% on all interest on the debt. They carried out an extension of the commercial treaty with Great Britain by which a further advance was made in the direction of free trade.
Of equal importance was their work in freeing Austria from The Liberals and the concordat. the control of the Church, which checked the intellectual life of the people. The concordat of 1855 had given the Church complete freedom in the management of all ecclesiastical affairs; there was full liberty of intercourse with Rome, the state gave up all control over the appointment of the clergy, and in matters of church discipline the civil courts had no voice - the clergy being absolutely subject to the power of the bishops, who could impose temporal as well as spiritual penalties. The state had even resigned to the Church all authority over some departments of civil life, and restored the authority of the canon law. This was the case as regards marriage; all disputes were to be tried before ecclesiastical courts, and the marriage registers were kept by the priests. All the schools were under the control of the Church; the bishops could forbid the use of books prejudicial to religion; in elementary schools all teachers were subject to the inspection of the Church, and in higher schools only Roman Catholics could be appointed.
It had been agreed that the whole education of the Roman Catholic youth, in all schools, private as well as public, should be in accordance with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. The authority of the Church extended even to the universities. Some change in this system was essential; the Liberal party demanded that the government should simply state that the concordat had ceased to exist. To this, however, the emperor would not assent, and there was a difficulty in overthrowing an act which took the form of a treaty. The government wished to come to some agreement by friendly discussion with Rome, but Pius IX. was not willing to abate anything of his full claims. The ministry, therefore, proceeded by internal legislation, and in 1868 introduced three laws: (1) a marriage law transferred the decisions on all questions of marriage from the ecclesiastical to the civil courts, abolished the authority of the canon law, and introduced civil marriage in those cases where the clergy refused to perform the ceremony; (2) the control of secular education was taken from the Church, and the management of schools transferred to local authorities which were to be created by the diets; (3) complete civil equality between Catholics and non-Catholics was established.
These laws were carried through both Houses in May amid almost unparalleled excitement, and at once received the imperial sanction, notwithstanding the protest of all the bishops, led by Joseph Othmar von Rauscher (1797-1875), cardinal archbishop of Vienna, who had earned his red hat by the share he had taken in arranging the concordat of 1855, and now attempted to use his great personal influence with the emperor (his former pupil) to defeat the bill.
The ministry had the enthusiastic support of the German population in the towns. They were also supported by the teaching profession, which desired emancipation from ecclesiastical control, and hoped that German schools and German railways were to complete the work which Joseph II. had begun. But the hostility of the Church was dangerous. The pope, in an allocution of 22nd June 1868, declared that these "damnable and abominable laws" which were "contrary to the concordat, to the laws of the Church and to the principles of Christianity," were "absolutely and for ever null and void." The natural result was that when they were carried into effect the bishops in many cases refused to obey. They claimed that the laws were inconsistent with the concordat, that the concordat still was in force, and that the laws were consequently invalid. The argument was forcible, but the courts decided against them. Rudigier, bishop of Linz, was summoned to a criminal court for disturbing the public peace; he refused to appear, for by the concordat bishops were not subject to temporal jurisdiction; and when he was condemned to imprisonment the emperor at once telegraphed his full pardon.