Parliamentary Representatives and Parliamentary Representation in Hungary (1848-1918)

by József Pap (Author)
©2017 Monographs 182 Pages


This book focuses on the history of Hungarian parliamentarism. Beside classic methods of historiography, the author utilizes statistical and GIS methods in his analysis. He combines the micro and macro levels of research. The book analyses the social composition of the MPs and introduces the Hungarian electoral system and its special ethnic and regional features. The author shows the operation and the problems of Hungarian parliamentarism and provides a clearer picture of the Parliament in the dualistic era.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • 1. Preface
  • 2. Development of the parliamentary representation framework in Hungary
  • 2.1 Continuity within suffrage
  • 2.2 Personal perspectives of continuity, representatives of the two Parliaments
  • 2.2.1 First parliamentary representatives and political careers after the War of Independence
  • 2.2.2 Members of parliament elected in 1861
  • 3. “Two Elections in Hungary” The Social Composition of the Members of Parliament in the Early 20th Century
  • 3.1 The parliamentary elections of 1901
  • 3.2 Social composition of Parliamentary representatives
  • 3.2.1 Place and date of birth, noble lineage and religion
  • 3.2.2 Education, travels in foreign countries
  • 3.2.3 Civil status, possessions and economic engagement
  • 3.2.4 Social engagement, court and military rank
  • 3.3 The 1905 parliamentary elections
  • 3.4 The social composition of parliamentary representatives
  • 3.4.1 Place and date of birth, gentility and religion
  • 3.4.2 Education, travels in foreign countries
  • 3.4.3 Civil status, possessions and economic engagement
  • 3.4.4 Social engagement, court and military rank
  • 4. Statistical analysis of the parliamentary elections between 1887 and 1905
  • 4.1 Fluctuation of representatives elected between 1887 and 1906
  • 4.2 Interim elections, loss of seats between 1887 and 1906
  • 4.3 Cluster analysis of the elections between 1887 and 1905
  • 4.4 Correlation between classifying constituencies into clusters and the nationality situation
  • 4.5 Correlation between the election results of the parties and the nationality relations
  • 5. Liberal Party and National Party of Work election results and representatives between 1901 and 1910
  • 5.1 The Elections of 1905 and 1906 and the Liberal Party
  • 5.1.1 Connections between the nationality situation and the election results
  • 5.1.2 The role of Liberal representatives switching parties in the 1905 and 1906 elections
  • 5.2 Election results of the National Party of Work in 1910
  • 5.2.1 Representatives elected for the first time in 1910 in the National Party of Work
  • Suffrage in Transylvania and the Nationality Issue
  • 6. The issue of suffrage and constituency division in Transylvania (1848–1877)
  • 6.1 The impact of the 1848 Suffrage Law on the composition of Transylvanian voters
  • 6.2 Constituencies in Transylvania in 1848
  • 6.3 Transylvanian electoral composition and constituency division related parliamentary debates (1874, 1877)
  • 6.3.1 The issue of Transylvania during the debate of the election draft bill in 1874
  • The issue of suffrage based on the old law
  • Possession-based suffrage of the urban population
  • The issue of minimum land tax in the case of Transylvania
  • 6.4 Debate on the constituency system adjusted to the new county division
  • 7. “Set the nation … over the crowd.” The issue of suffrage reform and the composition of electors in Transylvania
  • 8. Conclusion
  • 9. Bibliography supporting the database
  • 10. Referenced literature

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1. Preface

The history of parliamentary representation and the modern parliamentary system belongs to the most often researched and popular subject matters of the Age of Dualism. Several works have been published on the subject recently and this volume fits into this trend. Our first study on the subject was published in 2005. Since then we have tried to approach the issue from several different angles, and accordingly, we have employed a diverse methodological set of tools.1

The current volume summarizes the results of this work. We basically focused on two issues, the presentation of the social composition of Hungarian parliamentary representatives, and the analysis of the history of Hungarian suffrage, the most influential factor of the former subject. These two issues were closely related. The specific suffrage legislation was fundamentally defined by the opinion of the Hungarian political elite on the Hungarian nationality movements and their fears based on the negative prejudice of nationality electors. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these factors hindered Hungary in adopting a suffrage reform which would have increased the scope of individuals involved in the elections and expanded the legitimisation base of the political elite, transforming its sociological character. The present volume intends to deal with this closely interrelated, complex issue.

The first chapter examines the history of the period in which the Hungarian parliamentary system evolved, and uncovers problems related to the late feudal political system. It presents the departure point which arose in Hungary in 1848. We will also present the research program which aims at examining the social history based analysis of the history of the Hungarian parliamentary system. Following the introduction of the initial situation, we will examine the question of continuity of the parliamentary system at the turn of the 20th century. In the course of presenting the political elite at the turn of the century, we will give a basic outline of the sociological character of the competing political parties. Then, at the end of the volume, we will present the characteristics of developments in Hungarian suffrage through the evolution of the special suffrage regulation in Transylvania. We will use this case study to illustrate the behaviour of the Hungarian political elite.

In the introductory chapter, we must write about one of the most important tools of our work, the database on which the data capture and analysis are based. Seven years ago, after completing the examination of the Era of Neo-absolutism, ← 9 | 10 → we embarked on the analysis of yet another – for us, subsequent – sphere of elite research, that of parliamentary representation and the circle of representatives; we organized the collected information encoded into Excel spreadsheets, using conventional methods developed during our research into the Age of Absolutism. However, after two years of work, we were forced to realize that this method was not suitable for properly storing the large amount of collected information which also hindered the analysis. We found the solution to the problem in a relational database, in which we stored data of various sorts (personal data of representatives, data referring to their activities, types of occupation, qualification, base data of constituencies, district census data, party relationships etc.) in separate spreadsheets, and establishing relations among the sheets enabled us to easily conduct analyses which formerly had not been possible at all or only with great difficulty. The currently used database is the result of work which we took up again after two years, and which currently contains 28 main spreadsheets and a number of automated queries. It contains data on approximately 4,500 individuals. In professional literature, the record number is often included, primarily to indicate the amount of the material processed, however, in this case this would not make much sense, because the basic data of individuals is stored in a table currently consisting of 69 columns and 4,500 rows (310,500 data units), while the table containing the activities is currently made up of 42 columns and 21,900 rows (919,800 data units). However, the database also includes the data of the 1910 and 1880 censuses broken down to districts, and for example, all the Hungarian settlements of the 1910s, and we managed to create a relational connection between these and the 413 constituencies. (Thus, the settlements may be totalled not only by districts or counties but also by constituencies.) The database also complies with the scientifically essential basic requirement that the precise source of all data must be recordable and retrievable. The number of sources processed during data collection amounts to 250, yet this figure does not include the separate volumes of the various series, so for example, the Journals of the House of Representatives is only one item in the list.2

We must still devote some attention to the methods employed. In addition to the traditional text-based methods of history writing, we also called upon the tools of statistics and geographical information systems to help us in our analyses. We tried to approach the analyzed issues from as many sides as possible. Statistics became the most important tool of the macro-level analyses. Though we ← 10 | 11 → are aware of its shortcomings – the story often disappears behind the figures – we believe the data covering the entire country can only be included in a comprehensive system in this manner. The more serious analysis methods provide an opportunity to explore the deeper relationships. However, the use of data analysis software is required for this. The representation of the political struggle and the election results assumes the use of a geographic information system method. That is why we created a digital map system which can be managed by means of raster-based geographic information system software products. We plan to compile a separate collection of maps out of the maps crated in this manner in the future.

The general notes of the volume include the most important source and point of departure of the previous works on parliamentary history, the resource comments on parliamentary almanacs. Sándor Halász prepared the first summary in 1886, followed by Albert Sturm between 1887 and 1901, and Henrik Fabro and József Újlaki in 1905 and 1906, whilst Ferenc Végvári and Ferenc Zimmer were editors of the work in 1910. The primary objective of the almanacs was to present the members of the two Houses of Parliament. The prefaces bear witness to their motives. Among the editors, Albert Sturm added longer prefaces to his works and his comments pinpoint the most important problems of the sources. The major sources and data providers of the biographies were the individuals thus introduced. Sturm also advised readers of the problems arising from this: “Namely, the editor had to settle with the material he was able to acquire and to forgo publishing more circumstantial biographical data of men who could not actually be enlightened on the importance of the case and who did not respond to the request of the editor in spite of multiple calls”. Thus, the content of the information provided and the extent of the biographies were fundamentally based on the information provided by informants from their own accounts. Sturm almost boasted several times that he published the biographies impartially. In 1888, for example, he wrote that he also had additional information on some notable individuals but, as he stated: “I felt I was obliged to only record the external elements of parliamentary figures in this work, and I also considered that of these elements only those with a political significance and nature would fit into the scope of the work”3. Therefore, the work could only be considered to be more of a special-autobiographical collection, in which the real problem lies not in the truth content of the information provided – assuming the controlling role of the ← 11 | 12 → public – but in the fact that they were not included in the descriptions based on the same aspects of collection. Rather, the portraits show posterity what elements the individual felt important to highlight from his own life, perhaps in the hope of satisfying contemporary expectations. As far as the information in the almanac is concerned, we found that the primary issue is not the truth content of the data provided – the mistakes were often corrected in the different volumes – but rather that the lack of data may amount to such an extent that we can only determine with certainty the number of representatives a given piece of information was definitely characteristic of, however, it does not allow us to determine how many other individuals it was not. Since biographies follow a certain pattern and they generally have a similar structure, we may assume that informants were directed by the established practice, so if they did not write about something which often played an important role in the self-portraits provided by individuals (e.g.: military service, foreign travels), it must have been absent from their lives. However, we cannot state this with complete certainty. It is also important to note that some activities could have been omitted simply because of their triviality, such as casino membership, which appears almost marginally, however, our own experience shows that almost all of the representatives subjected to a detailed analysis were members of some form of a casino, yet this was often omitted from the almanacs. For example, religious relations can only be studied fragmentarily, yet what is truly striking is that the noble rank of the family of the representative was also a somewhat marginal piece of information. The question is: what was the reason for this? They did not consider it necessary, or perhaps well-mannered, to emphasize their rank within the parliamentary representation system, or perhaps it seemed so evident for contemporaries that they did not mention it. The control sources used indicate that family relationships, the role fulfilled in business life, and property relations also remained in obscurity, or at least, such information was often multiplied when individual careers were explored.

We could say that the almanacs are important for us because of their general nature, yet the processing of the information they contain was not the ultimate goal of the research. They provide an initial base which should be followed by the exploration of additional sources of control. We have already taken the first important steps in this work – a significant amount of data has already been collected in terms of exploring noble rank, family ties, religion, property relations and business roles, county official careers – but the work is still far from complete. We aim at providing an increasingly accurate picture of the circle of representatives using the results of continuous data collection. We believe, however, that the almanacs comprise the horizontal base from which we can diverge ← 12 | 13 → vertically in the case of a given area, as the individual representatives can be identified in the social, club and economic relation systems of the entire country; however, this is difficult to carry out for the complete set of representatives. This is not an individual, but rather a collective task for researchers.

We established and developed the database with Daniel Ballabás at the Institute of Modern and Contemporary History at the Károly Esterházy University under the János Bolyai Research Scholarship Program. Subsequently, the support won through a successful application submitted for an NKFIH (National Research, Development and Innovation Office) project in 2014 enabled the formation of a research team of Hungarian historians dealing with the subject in cooperation with the Károly Esterházy College.4 The primary objective set forth for the group was the compilation of the historical archontology of the Hungarian Parliament, a serious shortcoming of the Hungarian social history, as well as the preparation of a historical almanac of the parliamentary representatives and the members of the Upper House after 1885. During the initial project stage of the research, which was divided into two, four-year long cycles, the members undertook to prepare the complete archontology of the representatives and the first volume of the historical almanac, while the completion of the Almanac and the prosopographic-level analysis of the representatives and the members of the Upper House is expected during the second period. The research is part of a major international parliamentary historical work. The work on the Cisleithanian territories of the Monarchy is certainly outstanding in international comparison, where significant progress has also been made recently,5 as a result of which, ← 13 | 14 → the historical Encyclopaedia of the representatives of the Austrian parliament appeared in 2014.6 Our goal is to prepare a similar work. The first part of the present volume primarily focuses on the initial period and its representatives. The research plan of the group sets the year of 1865 as its point of departure. This is fundamentally due to the fact that we already have a rather thorough biographical encyclopaedia on the members of the first parliamentary national assembly7 and data was also collected on the changes during the period between 1861 and 1868.8


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (June)
Parliamentarism in Hungary Austro-Hungarian history Political elites Electoral system Minority issues History of Transylvania
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 182 pp., 10 graphs, 36 tables

Biographical notes

József Pap (Author)

József Pap is Professor for History at Eszterházy Károly University, Eger, Hungary. His research interest focuses on nineteenth- century social history with special attention to the history of the Hungarian Parliament in the dualistic era.


Title: Parliamentary Representatives and Parliamentary Representation in Hungary (1848-1918)
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184 pages