Diet, provincial

Diet, provincial (kraiovyi soim). Unicameral legislative body of an autonomous crown land in Austria-Hungary. Provincial diets were established in Lviv, Galicia and Chernivtsi, Bukovyna in 1861. Their legislative power was restricted to certain specified areas such as the provincial administration, budget, cultural affairs, public and vocational education, local economic affairs, social security, and health. The laws passed by the diets had to be approved by the emperor. The powers that were not mentioned in the provincial constitutions were reserved for the central parliament in Vienna.

Members of the Galician and Bukovynian diets were elected for six years according to the curial electoral system. In Galicia the curiae of the large landowners, of the chambers of commerce and manufacture, and of the cities chose their representatives by direct vote, while the curia of rural communities elected merely electors, who then decided which candidates would sit in the diet. Ukrainians voted only in the rural curia, but even here the indirect voting system and election abuses by the Poles deprived the Ukrainian population of its fair representation in the Galician Diet. The first Galician Diet (1861–7) had the largest number of Ukrainian deputies (49 or about one-third of the diet), but the number soon fell drastically to about 10 members and rose only in the last diet (1913–14) to 30 members. Although the rural curia had the largest number of representatives in the diet, it did not have an absolute majority. Counting the representatives of all four curiae, the Poles were always assured of a majority in the Galician Diet. They were led by deputies of the landowning nobility, who were hostile to Ukrainian interests. Besides elected members, the provincial diets also had non-elective, ex officio members, such as archbishops, bishops, and university rectors. The marshal and vice-marshal of the diet were appointed by the crown. The vice-marshal of the Galician Diet was usually a Ukrainian—most often the metropolitan of Lviv. The official language of the Galician Diet was Polish, but Ukrainian members had the right to make oral and written representations in Ukrainian. In Bukovyna the official language was German.

The executive (kraiovyi vydil) of the provincial diet consisted of the marshal and six diet members (including one Ukrainian), who were elected to serve for six years by the diet. The executive implemented the decisions of the diet, drafted legislative proposals, oversaw the activities of the lower agencies of self-government, and ruled on issues that fell within the jurisdiction of community and county councils. The provincial budget was approved annually by the diet.

An overview of the Galician Diet’s activities, by. S. Grodziski, appeared in 1993. A study of the Ukrainian caucus in the Galician Diet (to 1901), by I. Chornovol, appeared in 2002.

[This article was updated in 2003.]

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