1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Széll, Koloman

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SZÉLL, KOLOMAN (1845-1915), Hungarian statesman, was born on June 8 1845. He studied at Pest and Vienna, and in 1867 became deputy for the district of St. Gotthard. He very quickly won the reputation of being remarkably well informed on economic and financial questions. Széll was one of Deák's intimates, whose ward, the daughter of the Hungarian poet Vörösmarty, he had married. In 1875 he was Finance Minister in the Cabinet of Koloman Tisza, and as such imposed on himself the task of restoring the shattered credit of Hungary. In 1878 he concluded with Austria the first economic Ausgleich. At that time the single Austrian bank was changed, in conformity with this arrangement, into the dualistic Austro-Hungarian bank, and Széll consolidated the Hungarian Rentes, and nearly succeeded in balancing the State finances. As he feared that this balance would again be upset by the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he resigned from the Cabinet, incurring thereby the displeasure of the Crown. He still kept his seat in Parliament, and as deputy constantly criticized the financial policy of the Tisza Cabinet. At the beginning of the eighties Széll founded the Hungarian Mortgage Credit Bank, of which he was governor until the end of his life. He opened entirely new sources of credit for Hungarian agriculture. He declined repeated offers of the portfolio of Finance. When the Banffy Ministry suffered a serious crisis at the end of 1898 and was compelled to resign in Feb. 1899, Széll was entrusted with the formation of a new Cabinet. By means of the Pact of Feb. 23 1899 he restored parliamentary peace. On the basis of the so-called Széll formula the new Ausgleich with Austria until the year 1907 was concluded after long negotiations. The most important result of this was that Hungary attained the status of an independent customs area, but, under the arrangement for reciprocity, still maintained intact the existing conditions of the Customs Union with Austria. In 1901, under Széll's Ministry, the new elections resulted in a Liberal victory. A year later began the struggle for the reform of the national defence, and Széll introduced in 1902 the law for increasing the number of recruits, in exchange for which the Independent party wanted concessions to the principle of nationality. The obstruction against the provision for defence lasted from the end of Jan. to April 4 1903, and resulted in the suspension of the constitution (“Ex lex” condition). Széll sought to wear down the opposition by delay. As part of the majority would not agree to this, he resigned on June 16 1903. When his successor, Count Stephen Tisza, on Nov. 18 1904 brought about a split in the Liberal party by forcing through Parliament new rules of procedure, Széll joined Count Andrassy in the secession from the party. Under the Coalition Cabinet of Wekerle, Széll was chosen president of the Constitutional party. He tried continually, but in vain, to bridge the opposition between Tisza and Andrassy. He died on Aug. 16 1915. (E. v. W.)