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BELGIUM

unity has never since been restored. The cause of this disintegration was the extension of the franchise. • The Constitution of 1831 (Article 47) granted the Parliamentary franchise to citizens paying 100 florins Dutch currency (211 f. 60 c.) direct taxes in the e reform^ gradually descending to 20 re arms. flar jn villages. The Liberal Congress of orSjng communes, 1846 demanded the reduction of the electoral qualification to the last-named figure, and this reform was carried out in 1848. It was impossible to go farther without modifying the text of the Constitution, which required the consent of two-thirds of the Chambers, specially elected for the purpose. Nevertheless, the Liberal Progressists in November 1870 proposed in the Chamber the revision of Article 47. This motion was rejected by 73 Liberal and Catholic votes to 23 Progressist. But, in order to some extent to compensate the minority, the Ministry of M. d’Anethan lowered the qualification for the provincial and communal electorate, so far as it was possible to do so without violating the Constitution. There were from that date 350,000 communal electors (paying 10 f. in taxes), 200,000 provincial electors (paying 20 f.), and 100,000 general electors (paying 42 f. 32 c.). This reform enhanced the strength of the revisionist movement, for the communal and provincial electors evinced a natural desire to acquire full rights of suffrage. Relying on these tendencies, M. Janson, head of the Progressists, moved a second time, in 1883, the revision of Article 47. This motion was defeated by 116 Catholic and Ministerial votes to 11 (8 Progressist and 3 Catholic). But, as in 1870, the Progressists again obtained some compensation. The electoral body, communal and provincial, was enlarged by the grant of the franchise to qualified electors, i.e., such as could show, either by certificates or by examination, that they had received a full primary education. One hundred and thirty thousand new voters were thus created. But the hostility of the Progressists to the Ministry was not assuaged by this concession, nor by the lodging of Bills making education obligatory upon all, and founding industrial schools for infants. Moreover, to political difficulties financial ones were added. Receipts into the Treasury had fallen off, as a consequence of the European economic crisis; expenses had increased owing to the extension of primary education ; and the deficit had reached a total of 25,000,000 f. in 1883. The Government, in spite of the Catholics and Progressists, imposed a fresh tax upon tobacco, alcohol, &c. In the month of June 1884, the elections not only deprived the Liberal party of its majority, but also consigned it for an indefinite period to the cold shade of opposition. Its defeat was due to the Catholic agitation against the School Law, and to differences in regard to the franchise question. The Conservative electors, swaying from right to left, and alarmed by the demands of the Progressists and the anti-Clerical policy of the Government, gave their votes to the Catholics. The period since 1884 may be divided into two parts, that of the bourgeois regime, or the limited franchise (1884-94), and the beginning of the Democratic adminis r®oime — universal suffrage (1894-1900). Six tratioas. Ministries were in office, under Malou, Beernaert, de Bur let, de Smet de Naeyer, van den Peereboom, and de Smet de Naeyer (for the second time). In the Malou Ministry, which lasted from June to October 1884, the Premier’s chief colleagues were MM. Woeste, Beernaert, and van den Peereboom. The portfolio of Public Education was abolished, and a new enactment replaced the School Law of 1859. The communes obtained the right to suppress their secular schools, and to adopt at their pleasure the Catholic schools established since 1879. They might retain at least one secular

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school, or adopt at least one Catholic school, where 25 fathers of families demanded it. The State subsidized all the communal schools, whether secular or sectarian. Secular instruction in morals disappeared from the programme, but religious instruction was not made obligatory. The passing of this Bill in October called forth violent protests. The Liberal mayors of the large cities went in a body to the king to entreat him to withhold his sanction; the measure none the less became law. In the same month the communal elections turned out unfavourably for the Catholics, and the king, grasping the situation, demanded the resignation of the Ministers who had been most vehemently attacked on account of their Clericalism, namely, MM. Woeste and Jacobs. M. Malou followed his colleagues, and M. Beernaert, who had been Minister of Public Works from 1873-78, and again from June 1884, became President of the Cabinet. M. Beernaert’s Ministry, which held office during the period from October 1884 to March 1894, controlled affairs during the most troublous period through which Furtber Belgium had passed since 1839. The political demands agitation of 1884, confined to the bourgeoisie, for gave place in 1886 to an agitation which was reWs/onat once both political and social, and of which the mainspring lay in the working class. On the 18th of March 1886 a Socialist rising suddenly burst out at Liege, on the occasion of the anniversary of the Paris Commune. The movement rapidly spread in the industrial centres of Liege, Charleroi, and Mons. Thousands of working men went on strike, demanding better wages and the suffrage. On the 28th March a body of strikers set fire to a glass manufactory at Jumet, near Charleroi. The coalfields were put into a state of siege, and the military came on several occasions into armed conflict with the strikers. The vigour with which this outbreak was suppressed soon re-established public order, but these sad occurrences drew public attention sharply to the condition of the working classes. It was felt that political and social reforms were imperative. The Government opened a comprehensive inquiry, which served as the basis of numerous social laws. Simultaneously, the Liberal Progressists began a campaign for the extension of the franchise, and in this were supported by the Socialist labour party, formed in 1885. The movement of 1886 must be regarded as one of the epoch-making events in modern Belgian history. By giving a fresh impulse to the demands of the revisionists, by calling forth the framing of laws for the protection of workers, and bringing the Socialist party upon the scene, it caused Belgium to pass rapidly from a middleclass to a democratic regime. In 1887 the third motion for revision was rejected in the Chamber by 83 votes (Right) to 35 (Left). The moderate Liberals, acting on the advice of M. Fr&re-Orban, voted on this occasion for the motion. Harmony did not reign among the partisans of revision : the Socialists demanded universal suffrage, while the Progressists, faithful to Liberal tradition, insisted upon granting the franchise only to such Belgian subjects as could read and write. But the unanimity of the parties composing the Left as to the necessity for revision, rendered the measure inevitable. The revisionist propaganda became intense. M. Janson was returned to the Chamber by the solid vote of the Liberals of the capital, and forthwith moved revision for the fourth time. The Socialist party threatened the Government that, in the event of M. Janson’s motion being defeated, it would proclaim a general strike. The motion was eventually taken into consideration (November 1890) by the unanimous vote of the House, M. Beernaert having persuaded the Catholic majority to support the principle of revision. Between this vote and