Ausgleich

The German term Ausgleich refers to the "compromise" of February 1867 that established the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The compromise followed a series of failed constitutional reforms of the Habsburg Empire. Under the new arrangement the Magyar dominated government of Hungary gained near equal status to the "Austrian" government based in Vienna. The compromise was made under dire circumstances by the monarchy in an attempt to quiet internal dissent in the face of perceived aggression from Prussia, as well as internal agitation by the various nationalities of the Empire.

Many in the Austrian half of the monarchy resented the new influence of the Magyar government. It is true that the Magyar government refused to allow any form of internal reform, which most Austrian saw as necessary. In order to protect their new influence that Magyar leadership pursued a policy that disenfranchised most of the nationalities of the Empire. The Magyars also blocked financing to modernize the army, since they feared its use against them (the army was primarily controlled by Vienna). The resulting political deadlock may have resulted in the fateful decision by the Austrian leadership to attack Serbia in July of 1914. It was felt by some, notably Conrad von Hötzendorf, the Chief of the General Staff of the Habsburg Army, that the only way to reform Austria-Hungary was through the annexation of foreign territory and populations to help balance the power of the Magyars.

The Dual Monarchy established by the Ausgleich lasted for 50 years after 1867, destroyed in 1918 by the fallout from World War I.


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