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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Plener, Ernst, Freiherr von

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PLENER, ERNST, Freiherr von (1841- ), Austrian statesman, was born on Oct. 18 1841 at Eger in Bohemia, the son of the excellent Austrian statesman Ignaz von Plener (1810-1908). He began his diplomatic career in 1865, and served in the Paris and London embassies until 1873. In the latter year he was elected by the Chamber of Commerce of his native place to the Chamber of Deputies of the Reichsrat, where he was soon reckoned among the most conspicuous members of the Constitutional party. In the Taaffe period (1879-93) he was one of the leaders, and from 1888 the acknowledged head of the German-Liberals in their struggles against the Slav-Conservative majority in the Chamber. Consequently he represented Germanism on the nationalities question, but was not averse to concessions compatible with the maintenance throughout the whole monarchy of the position due to the German Austrians. He sought to compromise the quarrel between Germans and Czechs, and the so-called “points” of 1890, a summary of the bases for a German-Czech understanding, were essentially his work. In the Windischgrätz Coalition Ministry (1893-95), Plener took over the portfolio of Finance. Soon after his retirement from the Finance Ministry, Plener was appointed president of the Supreme Audit Department (Oberste Rechnungshof). He became a member of the Upper House in 1900.

Plener wrote a series of economic and political works, among others Die Englische Fabriksgesetzgebung (1871); Englische Baugenossenschaften (1873). His speeches were published by his friends in 1911. He himself published Erinnerungen (3 vols., 1911-21).

(A. F. Pr.)