1919 - first elections for a new state

The beginning of 1919 is marked by a disastrous food scarcity and an equally bad energy supply situation: hunger and cold are the distinguishing attributes of the young Republic which faces major difficulties trying to establish a political administration in line with republican ideas from the remnants of a former empire and with what is left in Vienna of the former monarchy's state apparatus. On 16 February 1919, about three months after the proclamation of the Republic, elections are held for a constituent national assembly. In these general, direct and secret elections women are for the first time entitled to vote.

4 March 1919 - first session of the constituent national assembly

As a result of the elections held on 16 February 1919, 72 seats of the national assembly go to the Social Democrats and 69 to the Christian Social Party; the German Nationals are represented with 26 mandates while the Civil Democrats, the Jewish Nationals and the Czechs receive one mandate each. The first session of the constituent national assembly takes place on March 4, 1919. The Social Democrat Karl Seitz becomes the first president of the legislative body, followed by Prelate Johann Nepomuk Hauser of the Christian Social Party as second and the German National Franz Dinghofer as third president. On March 15, 1919, a coalition government of the Social Democrats and the Christian Social Party under Chancellor Karl Renner is formed.

Peace treaties - Woodrow Wilson and his fourteen points

On 7 December 1917, the United States of America declares war on Austria-Hungary. Only a month later, on 8 January 1918, President Woodrow Wilson delivers a speech to US Congress presenting his plans for lasting peace in Europe and listing the historically significant Fourteen Points. Several of them refer to the future of Austria-Hungary with particular emphasis given to the readjustment of the frontiers of Italy along clearly recognizable lines of nationality, the freest opportunity to autonomous development of the peoples in Austria-Hungary and the independence of the Polish state with free access to the sea. According to these plans the continued existence of Austria-Hungary within the borders of 1914 is ruled out. At that point, the days of the Habsburg Monarchy are already counted.

The rest is Austria - the Treaty of Saint-Germain

On 10 September 1919, the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye between the allied victors and Austria is signed by Karl Renner. The state's name has to be changed to Austria. Any political union with Germany is prohibited. Austria must pay war reparations. General conscription is prohibited. South Tyrol and the Kanaltal in Carinthia are ceded to Italy, Southern Styria and the Mießtal in Carinthia become a part of Yugoslavia. The frontier districts around Feldsberg and Böhmtal in Lower Austria become a part of Czechoslovakia, the German speaking area in Western Hungary (Burgenland) remains a part of Austria and a plebiscite is granted to the multilingual area of Carinthia.

What were the implications of the treaties?

"The rest is Austria", the dictum of the French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, is a fitting characterisation of the allied powers' attitude towards the former Habsburg Empire. Concerning the Treaty of Versailles signed by the German Reich with the allies, the French Marshal Foch said: "This is no peace but an armistice for twenty years."

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