It appeared also that many of the leading newspapers of Vienna, by which the Liberal party was supported, had received money from financiers. For the next two years political interest was transferred from parliament to the law courts, in which financial scandals were exposed, and the reputations of some of the leading politicians were destroyed.
This was to bring about a reaction against the economic Fall of the Liberal ministry. doctrines which had held the field for nearly twenty years; but the full effect of the change was not seen for some time. What ruined the government was the want of unity in the party, and their neglect to support a ministry which had been taken from their own ranks. In a country like Austria, in which a mistaken foreign policy or a serious quarrel with Hungary might bring about the disruption of the monarchy, parliamentary government was impossible unless the party which the government helped in internal matters were prepared to support it in foreign affairs and in the commercial policy bound up with the settlement with Hungary. This the constitutional parties did not do. During discussions on the economic arrangement with Hungary in 1877 a large number voted against the duties on coffee and petroleum, which were an essential part of the agreement; they demanded, moreover, that the treaty of Berlin should be laid before the House, and 112 members, led by Herbst, gave a vote hostile to some of its provisions, and in the Delegation refused the supplies necessary for the occupation of Bosnia. They doubtless were acting in accordance with their principles, but the situation was such that it would have been impossible to carry out their wishes; the only result was that the Austrian ministers and Andrássy had to turn for help to the Poles, who began to acquire the position of a government party, which they have kept since then.
At the beginning of 1870 Auersperg's resignation, which had long been offered, was accepted. The constitutionalists remained in power; but in the reconstructed cabinet, though Stremayr was president, Count Taaffe, as minister of the interior, was the most important member.
Parliament was dissolved in the summer, and Taaffe, by private negotiations, first of all persuaded the Bohemian feudal proprietors to give the Feudalists, who had long been excluded, a certain number of seats; secondly, he succeeded where Potocki had failed, and came to an agreement with the Czechs; they had already, in 1878, taken their seats in the diet at Prague, and now gave up the policy of "passive resistance," and consented to take their seats also in the parliament at Vienna.
On entering the House they took the oath without reservation, Count Taaffe. but in the speech from the throne the emperor himself stated that they had entered without prejudice to their convictions, and on the first day of the session Rieger read a formal reservation of right. The Liberals had also lost many seats, so that the House now had a completely different aspect; the constitutionalists were reduced to 91 Liberals and 54 Radicals; but the Right, under Hohenwart, had increased to 57, and there were 57 Poles and 54 Czechs. A combination of these three parties might govern against the constitutionalists. Taaffe, who now became first minister, tried first of all to govern by the help of the moderates of all parties, and he included representatives of nearly every party in his cabinet. But the Liberals again voted against the government on an important military bill, an offence almost as unpardonable in Austria as in Germany, and a great meeting of the party decided that they would not support the government.
Taaffe, therefore, was obliged to turn for support to the Right. The German members of the government resigned, their place was taken by Clericals, Poles and Czechs, Smolka was elected president of the Lower House of the Reichsrath, and the German Liberals found themselves in a minority opposed by the "iron ring" of these three parties, and helpless in the parliament of their own creation. For fourteen years Taaffe succeeded in maintaining the position he had thus secured. He was not himself a party man; he had sat in a Liberal government; he had never assented to the principles of the Federalists, nor was he an adherent of the Clerical party. He continued to rule according to the constitution; his watchword was "unpolitical politics," and he brought in little contentious legislation. The great source of his strength was that he stood between the Right and a Liberal government. There was a large minority of constitutionalists; they might easily become a majority, and the Right were therefore obliged to support Taaffe in order to avert this. They continued to support him, even if they did not get from him all that they could have wished, and the Czechs acquiesced in a foreign policy with which they had little sympathy.
Something, however, had to be done for them, and from time to time concessions had to be made to the Clericals and the Federalists.
The real desire of the Clericals was an alteration of the school The Clericals. law, by which the control of the schools should be restored to the Church and the period of compulsory education reduced. In this, however, the government did not meet them, and in 1882 the Clericals, under Prince Alfred v. Liechtenstein, separated from Hohenwart's party and founded their own club, so that they could act more freely. Both the new Clerical Club and the remainder of the Conservatives were much affected by the reaction against the doctrines of economic Liberalism. They began to adopt the principles of Christian Socialism expounded by Rudolf Mayer and Baron von Vogelfang, and the economic revolt against the influence of capital was with them joined to a half-religious attack upon the Jews. They represented that Austria was being governed by a close ring of political financiers, many of whom were Jews or in the pay of the Jews, who used the forms of the constitution, under which there was no representation of the working classes, to exploit the labour of the poor at the same time that they ruined the people by alienating them from Christianity in "godless schools." It was during these years that the foundation for the democratic clericalism of the future was laid.