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Elites and Politics in Central and Eastern Europe (1848–1918)

Edited By Judit Pál and Vlad Popovici

The volume deals with the evolution and metamorphoses of the political elite in the Habsburg lands and the neighbouring countries during the long 19 th century. It comprises fourteen studies, compiled by both renowned scholars in the field and young researchers from Central and Eastern Europe. The research targets mainly parliamentary elites, with occasional glimpses on political clubs and economic elites. The main subjects of interest are changes in the social-professional composition of the representative assemblies and inner power plays and generation shifts. The collection of studies also focuses on the growing pressure brought by emerging nationalisms as well as electoral corruption and political patronage.
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Galicia’s Parliamentary Elites in the Transition to Mass Politics

Extract

Harald Binder

Parliamentary elites as a subset of the political elites

Parliamentary elites are groups of people who exercise political leadership and whose particular influence in state and society is based on their membership in a parliamentary body. Because of this function, they constitute a part of the entire social elite system, which also includes other groups exercising political leadership. Furthermore, elites do not exist in self-contained groups, but rather in overlapping ones; members of one elite group, that is to say, are often also members of other elite groups. This holds especially true for members of parliament prior to the formation of the modern party system and the professionalization of politics. According to Max Weber, holding a political mandate in the era of dignitaries was a point of honour, which also translated into an elevated position in society-at-large.1

A constitutional monarchy is founded on the basis of a separation of powers between the monarch and the people’s representative body. In the Habsburg Monarchy, the so-called December Constitution of 1867 provided this concept’s final form. A constitutionally established dualistic principle could now be applied to the subject of elites. On the one hand, there was a circle of elites that included the highest authority of the state, namely the Emperor. This circle was constituted by kinship (the Imperial family and court) and by the Emperor’s power to appoint the army, the highest echelons of bureaucracy, and the government. On the other hand there were...

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