Alternate History

1856 Presidential Elections (A Federation of Equals)

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1852 DanubianFederationEqualsFlag 1860
The Danubian Election of 1856
Turnout 69%
VictorKraus zps24d38cd3 Bonnat2 Soukup-ValentaPicture zps36bac3f3
Nominee Victor Kraus Francesco de Palma Gabriel Soukup-Valenta
Party All-Danubian Conservative Party Republican Alliance Radical Union of the Federation
Alliance M&SL PDP
Home state Austria Lombardia Bohemia
Electoral vote 161 67 0
States carried 7 6 0
Popular vote 3,081,657 2,294,851 1,180,209
Percentage 47% 35% 18%
The results of the presidential election, 1856
Chairman before election
Elias di Sanctis
Victor Kraus
All-Danubian Conservative Party
On the whole the primaries of 1856 were a sedate affair, with most of the political maneuvering having already been performed. Indeed, the Radical Union’s pre-election conference served only to rubber stamp the unopposed Gabriel Soukup-Valenta. The Coalition’s nominating convention saw a spark of excitement when it was rumoured that Victor Kraus, who as leader of the ADCP and principle force behind the Coalition was the presumptive nominee, had pulled out of the race; in actual fact, he had merely been absent from Vienna on official Treasury business and therefore unable to attend one specific rally that was attended by large portions of the conservative press. He went on to win the nomination by such a significant margin that one of his opponents is reported to have said, “I’m beginning to doubt even my own mother would vote for me.” The real action of the primaries came in course of the Alliance’s record-breaking convention. Lasting for the best part of two weeks and comprising of 74 individual ballots, the contest was tightly fought to say the least. Two main candidates quickly emerged as frontrunners, Francesco de Palma and Rodrigo Vertucci, the former on his no-nonsense, confrontationalist approach to dealing with the perceived threat of the forces of reaction and  the latter on what he claimed was a more politically viable and pragmatic solution of compromise and consensus. For 12 days, neither man could secure the 2/3rds majority required by the coalition agreement; only on 21st December did was the deadlock broken. Vertucci’s subsequent defeat was unexpected by most commentators at the time in the light of the Pan-Danubian Party’s vastly greater membership than de Palma’s Republican Alliance, but can reasonably be accounted for by a variety of factors; time pressures, compiled with an increasing political fundamentalism and the admission of delegations from Federal Territories in addition to states, certainly had an effect. In many ways, however, the most surprising thing, from a historical perspective at least, about the 1856 Alliance election was the strength of the unity and resolve shown from within the convention hall in the face of very divisive ideas, especially in context of increasing particularisation and division within Danubian society. Only time would tell if this would be a true watershed in the nation’s political and social history or merely an interesting aside on the way to anarchy.

Parallels were quickly drawn between the Alliance primary and the Papal conclave. The 1830-31 election that lasted 50 days was still firmly in living memory, though many members of the Alliance found the comparison in poor taste.

Meanwhile, debate raged no less vociferously over reform of the Federal Council. Four bills, placed before Congress just prior to the Christmas recess, captivated the political nation. Dissatisfaction with one bill or another was shown by ordinary citizens up and down the nation. There were peaceful protests across the nation. Minor riots caused panic in both Bratislava and Budapest. Vienna suffered a series of strikes, the like of which had been unseen in almost a decade. The instability even led to a sizable increase in inflation and a banking crisis, with disaster only averted when Governor of the Bank of Austria suspended the gold standard for the Danubian Pound, allowing capital to flow back into the economy. The New York Times compared the unsustainable situation over Congressional reform to “filling the Hofburg with gunpowder while also constructing barricades for her defence.” It is worth noting that Danubian congressional reform was divisive abroad as well as at home. The New York Times, in the same article, said, “It is the cruellest of ironies that the people of this proud nation

The Bank of Austria was granted powers to regulate the supply of Federal money in late 1855 under the supervision of the Treasury (picture as it stands today).

should have fought for liberation from the tyranny of the autocrat only to willingly subject themselves to the tyranny of overbearing states.” The very same day, the Richmond Examiner lashed out against, “the arrogance with which two constituent states of this Federation of ‘equals’ have in claiming an unnatural hegemony over all the others, which has the effect of enslaving them and destroying the inherent liberties and rights of any sovereign state.”

The Candidates

The Alliance
: Francesco de Palma

Under a de Palma administration, the national government will maintain a strict policy of secularism, showing no favouritism to any religion or creed; states are permitted to have a regional faith, but must take great pains to ensure all citizens are treated equally under the law. Excepting the protection of individual rights, the national government will largely abstain from dictating social or cultural policy of any state.

In regards to foreign policy, my presidency will see the continued prosecution of this war, until an agreement favourable to the Federation can be made; I will maintain my neutrality concerning new states, and will defer wholly to the wisdom of the Legislature on those matters. I prefer neutrality in the growing discontent between Russia and Prussia, but will again defer to the Legislature should neutrality prove impossible. The military will be kept at roughly the present size; perhaps will a small decrease in the army and an expansion of the navy to protect ports and trade.

Over the course of two years, I will wean our industries off government aid, and divert those funds to education and other means to improve the Federation. I advocate lowering taxes on the middle class, and reducing regulation and control, to promote more economic growth.

Together, we can ensure that liberalism and freedom remain the watchwords of this great Federation. A vote for de Palma is a vote for progress, states' rights, and liberty.

The Radical Union of the Federation
: Gabriel Soukup-Valenta

  • Economy: A nation with a strong economy has the strength to lead. Without a strong economy we will be unable to provide for our citizens. Without a strong economy we will be unable to support a strong military to protect what we hold sacred. Under my administration I will work to support all areas of our economy from our considerable agriculture sector down to our growing industries while improving the welfare of all our workers from the farmer to the artisan to the laborer. Are they not entitled to the sweat on their brow? The state of our railroads is less than adequate; we need to improve our existing lines while expanding at a modest pace, specifically laying down new tracks into the Balkans. I will work to lower tariffs so our factories are able to afford raw materials outside of the federation without going into the red. Capitalists, Business owners and investors will be given significant opportunities to invest in government established projects and industry along with other incentives to make sure our economy grows so we can help rebuild after the wars in Hungary and against the Ottomans. I will travel the world to show that the Federation is the place to do business that we are the nation other nations should invest in and trade with for working with us means prosperity!
  • Religion: We will welcome all major religions under our umbrella of protection to safeguard our citizens from religious persecution. Every man should be able to choose the faith they wish to practice be it our glorious Christianity and its denominations or none at all. A man is entitled to his values, opinions and personal integrity.
  • Foreign Policy: After the war with the Ottoman Empire comes to an end it will be time to bring our troops home. It is time to focus inward in order to consolidate our gains after years of strife and war to replenish our coffers to be prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. We will honor our defensive alliance with the French but we will put the emphasis on defensive, we will not shed the blood of our soldiers for the ambitions of Paris or for any other nation we become allied with so long as they are the aggressors. Unless a defensive treaty’s protocols are enacted we will not be partaking in the wars of others. The only exceptions to this are the southern German states of Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden. Those are our friends and neighbors and they will not be subject for Prussian ambitions to annex them. We respect the sovereignty of Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden and extend our hand out increase relations, if they wish to join the Federation then that is their choice. We will also work to strengthen relations with neighbors such as the Greeks and the Sicilians. Diplomacy before war.
  • War against Ottoman Empire: We will finish the war we started with all the proposed war goals fulfilled! We shall also work to maintaining the peace in the post-war Balkans while ensuring democracy and the will of the people is heard and respected while helping to rebuild their war ravaged homes. As previously stated I will work to expand our rail lines towards the Balkans to improve access between the Federation and the new territories.
  • States’ Rights: I will protect the integrity of the states. States will not be forced to use what funds they have to advance Federal programs. States will have a say in their own affairs. What that said one must recognize the enumerated and implied powers of the Federal government, however, I will make sure to address any acts of Federal encroachment on the states. So long as state law does not violate Federal law, the Federal government needn’t get involved. States have the right to set their budget and internal finances.
  • Military: The Federal Armed Forces is our sword and spear. Our men have fought bravely against foreign enemies such as the Turks and Russians while also undertaking the task against domestic threats such as the civil war in Hungary. And for that we will continue to have a Pro-Military stance as we strive to keep our military as up to date as possible in both equipment and training. The fighting man has shed blood and even given his life, they deserve the very best in training, weaponry and compensation.
  • Education: Our literacy rate is abysmal, under my administration we will work towards improving further our education system. I would expand the Standardized Federal Curriculum to make for primary education compulsory for children. Our children will be our future leaders in politics, the arts, the military and our financial sector and we should work to strengthen our future.
  • Taxes: Tariffs will be significantly lowered to help our business’ grow and improve free trade.
  • Social Programs: Under my administration I will work towards having minimal to basic safety regulations for all work places regardless if it is in a farm, mine or factory while gradually extending trinket pensions to our workers of all sectors. I will also put forth legislation in the spirit of the British Factories Act of 1847. If they can do it so can we!

Prosperity. Equality. Peace. We will have a P.E.P in our step!

The All-Danubian Coalition
Candidate: Victor Kraus

Gentlemen, Deputy Papp and I present to you my Presidential platform. I vow to bring Peace, Prosperity and Stability to our magnificent Federation, by the methods and plans outlined below.

  • Cohesion Between the States: Over the years, some have forgotten why we stand together. Why we are a Federation of nations everything seems to oppose. We stand together against the absolutist monarchies that continue to exist only to increase their power, without serving their people. We are lucky enough to live in a democracy, and I will ensure all the peoples of the Danube see the fruits of their labour. Yet, the threats without do not quell the threats within. To remedy this, we will continue to increase cohesion between the states of our Federation, in line with the Currency Act, the Freedom of Movement Act and others. The man in Bohemia and the man in Silesia may not be able to talk with one another for now, but they will never be able to live without one another. I will also take steps to reform our governance to ensure the events that led up to the secessions in Lombardy, Dalmatia and Hungary never happen again. Our nations have gone through a decade of war, and time has come for it to finally end.
  • Religion: Our opponents have never hidden their intents to coldly sunder the link binding Church and State. I will not let this pass. Our people believe, and we shall provide. I will maintain the pluralist stance that has been this Federation's since its inception, open to all interpretations as long as they do not harm our nations. We will not abandon our brothers in faith, nor discriminate against those who do not follow the teachings the majority of the Federation follow.
  • Foreign Policy: I will work closely with our international partners for peace and prosperity, two words I will ensure come to define my term as President for all the peoples of the Danube. Our bounds with the states of Central Europe that have come close to us will be reinforced, and their people too may share in our wealth while adding to our own. I will however remain vigilant, for not all nations look so kindly upon us, and have proved their will to see us in chains again. We will remain free and unbound from outside forces!
  • Economy: Previous governments preferred to forget about our economy, focusing rather on war. I will put an end to this. We have much to build and rebuild. I will restore the Ministry of Agriculture, charged with the task to modernise our fields and farms, bringing wealth to their owners and cheap food for our people, as well as ensure all land is properly used. This will affect all areas of economy, from artisans to industrials. I will also put in the means and energy to finally have our industry take off, through a fair interventionist policy. Selective tariffs will ensure our Federation will prosper, and employ as many people as possible. 
  • Cabinet Changes: We have seen old cabinet positions come back to the fore, with no clear purpose, and useful newer positions seeming ready to fall into disuse. As such I will have the Ministry of the Treasury, which is now defunct and without a holder, absorbed into the more modern Ministry of Finance. I will also see the rebirth of the Ministry of Agriculture and Education. These are two areas that are in sore need of governance. I will also be creating the Ministry of Commerce. It shall deal with internal and external trade for the Danubian Federation, and shall give advice on what sectors need support, and which sectors are able and willing to stand up to foreign competition.

I can bring this Federation the peace, the stability and the prosperity it sorely needs and deserves. I can lead us to greatness! All that must be done is for you to support me. Support me, Victor Kraus, the leader of the All-Danubian Coalition.

The Result

The election of 1856 turned out to be fairly straightforward. Despite a last minute attempt by the left to unite, Kraus had amassed an unbeatable coalition. In the event, he fell just short of a majority of the popular vote, but regardless stood secure in terms of both his popular vote share and his position in the Electoral College.

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