European Political Facts 1848–1918 by Chris Cook

By Chris Cook

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In none of these was there any permanent parliament. Legislatures were provided for by constitutions granted in 1820 and 1848, but in both years the grant was to appease a liberal revolt and the constitutions lapsed when the risings were suppressed. These brief parliaments existed in the Two Sicilies and in Piedmont-Savoy in 1820, in Tuscany, Piedmont-Savoy and the Two Sicilies in 1848. The parliament granted in Piedmont-Savoy in 1848 survived, and was adopted by the new Kingdom of Italy in 1861, when the Piedmontese constitution of 1848 became that of the new state.

Voters were of five classes: large landowners, cities, chambers of commerce, rural communes and the general class. There was a constituency for each class in each district. The house was obliged to meet annually. It had power to legislate for the Austrian half of the Dual Monarchy, but the execution of the laws was left to the provincial diets. Bills were passed through committees set up by 'bureaux' within the house; a joint committee was appointed by both houses to deal with the public debt. The upper house had 81 nobles, princes and bishops, and 94 members nominated for life, with no limit to the number of new nominations.

Appointment by the King meant in practice appointment by the ruling ministry, the numbers being often augmented for political advantage. The main function of the Senate was as revising body; between 1861 and 1910 the government presented 7570 proposals in the lower house and 600 in the upper; the upper house initiated 40. The Chamber of Deputies had 508 members chosen simultaneously by direct election. Single-member districts were provided in 1860. The term was 5 years. Suffrage in 1860 was for male literate property holders over 25 paying 40 lire in annual taxes (about 5% of the population).

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