Page:The New Europe - Volume 4.djvu/184

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The New Europe]

[23 August 1917


of tactics rather than of principle. The Czech Socialists and Clericals lead by Šmeral and Hruban were in favour of going to Vienna, not for the purpose of negotiating a compromise, but in order to emphasise the unanimous Czech demand of 30 May for the union of all Czechs and Slovaks in an independent, democratic, Bohemian State. On the other hand, the Radicals, led by Dr. Stransky and the ex-Minister Pražek, who finally won over the Young Czechs and Agrarians and thus gained a majority in the Bohemian Club, advocated “passive resistance” on the ground that any further negotiations with Austria were futile and dangerous, as the Czech question was of an international character and could therefore be decided only at the Peace Conference. The Narodni Listy (Dr. Kramař’s organ, which took a conciliatory attitude, wrote on 29 July:—

“Even the worst sceptic has in mind our boldest and highest national aim (of independence), and if he disagrees with the optimist, it is only on the question of how to attain it.”

The question was finally referred to the National Council, which postponed a decision indefinitely, thus practically endorsing the Radical policy of passive resistance. These dissensions among the Czechs caused the Jugoslavs and Ruthenes to abstain from a common Slav Conference which was to be held at Prague at the end of July. The Radical Lidove Noviny apologised to the Jugoslavs by explaining the anxiety of the Czechs to keep aloof from Austrian politics, on the ground that the Constitution Sub-Committee would be made the stepping-stone to a Coalition Cabinet which the Czechs could never enter without fatally compromising their prospects of independence at the Peace Conference; while the participation of other Slavs in Austrian politics, in return for temporary concessions, would hardly affect the question of the ultimate liberation of the Poles, Ruthenes, and Jugoslavs, and their re-union with their kinsmen beyond the frontiers of the Monarchy. Thus, for the time being, the proposal for a revision of the Constitution was buried.

The next test of Seidler’s statesmanship was the formation of a permanent Parliamentary Cabinet. On 31 July the Bohemian Club was invited to send two representatives to the Cabinet in return for autonomy “in accordance with the principle of national self-determination.” This offer