Austriacki Sejm Konstytucyjny doby Wiosny Ludów a nadzieje i rachuby polityczne galicyjskich Polaków
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The Austrian Constitutional Diet at the time of the Spring of Nations and the Political Hopes of Galician PolesThe greatest political achievement of the two Vienna revolutions – of March and May 1848 – was forcing emperor Ferdinand I to issue a proclamation calling to life the first National Diet in the history of Austria (Reichstag); the Diet’s main task was to draw up a constitution for the multi-national Habsburg monarchy. The emperor’s subjects received this decision with great satisfaction expecting that the new Parliament will lead to a fundamental restoration of Austria by transforming it from a police-absolutist state (which it had been until March 1848) into a liberal constitutional monarchy.For the Polish deputies from Galicia, similarly as for the representatives of other non-German nations inhabiting the Habsburg empire, the Austrian Constitutional Diet of the time of the Spring of Nations (which remained in session from July 1848 till March 1849) became the battleground for far-reaching, autonomous liberties, and even – as was demanded by the Polish deputies from Galicia – for becoming a separate state within a federalized Danubian monarchy. In accordance with the plan devised by Franciszek Smolka – a Polish deputy from Lubaczów, who had ultimately attained the post of president of this Diet, the thus politically „liberated” Galicia was to have played the role of a „nucleus of future Poland”.The Polish deputies from Galicia, the majority of whom represented the Polish nobility and intelligentsia, belonged to the most active participants of the Austrian Parliament. Apart from the above-mentioned Franciszek Smolka, it was Florian Ziemiałkowski, a deputy from Lvov, who displayed great talent, particularly as regards lobbying and backstage political bargaining. Another Polish deputy, Leszek Dunin-Borkowski became known in the parliamentary circles as an excellent speaker.Both Smolka and Ziemiałkowski belonged to a 30-strong Constitutional Commission which prepared the draft of the Austrian Constitution. And although the above draft had never become valid law, as the successor of Ferdinand I, Franz Josef I, dissolved the Diet and restored absolutist rule, nonetheless the Austrian Diet of 1848–1849 fulfilled an important role. For it formulated certain political principles which exerted a strong influence on subsequent legislation – particularly the one which originated in the fifties and sixties of the 19th century, when following a decade of neo-absolutism, Austria had once again returned to constitutional rule.
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