Monday, September 10, 2012
Monarchist Profile: Istvan Rakovszky
Rakovszky gained enough prestige to enter politics on the national level, being elected in that year to the Hungarian House of Representatives in which he served until 1918 and in that pivotal year he entered the Hungarian Diet in which he served until 1926, becoming known as one of the most active and vocal Hungarian politicians in the Dual-Monarchy. In hundreds of speeches he made his views heard on everything from parliamentary procedure to foreign affairs and economic policy. Rakovszky was invariably loyal but of course put Hungarian interests first and was not always pleased with overall imperial policy. During the height of the Hungarian Constitutional Crisis of 1903-1907 (sparked by disputes over the language of the army but part of a long series of problems between Austria and Hungary) Imperial-Royal troops were sent in to close down the Hungarian Diet, something which Rakovszky strongly condemned and protested against while filling in for the absent Speaker of the House of Representatives. However, his reputation was so solid that Emperor Francis Joseph had earlier sought out his advice on how to handle the volatile situation in Hungary so there is no doubt he was quite trusted at court.
As the government of the Kingdom of Hungary fell and the Dual-Monarchy began to fall apart, Rakovszky resigned from office and as he was known for being a staunch Catholic and monarchist, when the Hungarian Soviet Republic was declared the communists had him arrested and confiscated all of his papers. Nonetheless, he remained outspoken in his opposition to the Reds and continued to be a voice for the Catholic population and, as the communists cracked down on all religions, for Christian Hungarians in general. In 1920 he was elected to the National Assembly as a representative of the Christian National Party and became Speaker of the Assembly. He remained as vociferous an orator as ever and gave what was perhaps his most famous speech condemning the Treaty of Trianon which saw Hungary mutilated, drastically reducing the national territory and crippling the economy. He clashed bitterly with the leadership of the Independent Smallholder’s Party and their intractable opposition led him to resign his office in 1921.
Outside of politics, Rakovszky continued to voice his strident opposition to the government which earned him the wrath of many in power, leading ultimately to an attempt to assassinate him which was, fortunately, unsuccessful. Although the monarchy has been “officially” restored and the country was again, technically, the Kingdom of Hungary, Rakovszky and others were outraged that the King had not been invited back to take the throne and resume his royal duties. They became even more disgruntled as more time passed and it became clear that the government of former Admiral Miklos Horthy had no intention of ever actually handing power back to the King (Blessed Emperor Charles I then in exile in Switzerland). Rakovszky and other like-minded monarchists began working behind the scenes to weaken the regency as much as possible to pave the way for the return of the King. The government finally had to take them seriously and recognized that there was a great deal of public support for the complete restoration of the monarchy. Rakovszky was considered a moderate among the monarchists but one of the most effective and when Emperor Charles (in Hungary King Charles IV) began his bid to resume the throne and return to Hungary, Rakovszky was chosen to be his new prime minister. In fact, the return of the King had been planned in Rakovszky’s apartment.
After his release, Rakovszky returned to politics, co-founding the National Farmer and Civic Party and remained a determined critic of the government. He finally retired in 1926 after a near lifetime in public service and died on August 12, 1931.