After the so-called “election by handkerchief”, the opposition completely destroyed the furniture of the Hungarian National Assembly on December 13, 1904, and even attacked police officers trying to stop them.

Serving the interests of Hungary and the Monarchy

In some countries, for example, in Ukraine, it is quite common that MPs fight not only with words but also with their fists. Here is a video on this:

In Hungary, such things never happened even though

in 1912 an MP tried to kill Speaker István Tisza with his revolver.

Interestingly, the jury of Budapest cleared him from all charges, which angered the general public. By then, István Tisza was already for almost three decades in the front-row of the Hungarian politics. He was appointed PM for the first time in 1903. The most important point in his political agenda was to crush the filibuster of the opposition in the Hungarian parliament, which hindered the acceptance of, for example, the state budget or the new economic agreement with Austria. Filibuster means that MPs spoke for hours, which made decision-making almost impossible.

Since István Tisza felt that the conflicts among countries of Europe are inevitable, he wanted to strengthen Hungary and the Monarchy. However, to do so, he needed a parliament that, for example, accepts bills of increasing the number of the military and provides the needed financial support for its modernisation. Thus, he sometimes broke the rules of the Parliament because of which many members of even his own party turned against him.

István Tisza.

The government unified the fragmented opposition

In November 1904, Tisza’s party submitted a bill aiming to

modify the rules of the Parliament.

For example, they would have restricted the time an MP can talk.  Moreover, filibustering MPs could have been walked out from the sitting by the police. He knew that the bill has no chance to be accepted because of filibustering, so after he finished his speech, Dezső Perczel, the speaker of the House waved his handkerchief and government MPs stood up. This act meant a ‘Yes’ vote then so the speaker, in the midst of an ear-splitting tumult, declared that the new regulations had been adopted by the house, and produced a royal message suspending the session.

This became known later as the “election by handkerchief”, which became a large scandal and, as a consequence, many prominent leaders left Tisza’s party. Moreover, the PM’s move unified the opposition parties forming the so-called “Federal Opposition”.

The parliament was called together again on 12th December; however, opposition MPs were shouting during the whole sitting and

destroyed almost the entire furniture of Chamber of the Lower House. 

Opposition MPs after they finished their “work.”

In fact, the barbaric act happened only a couple of months after the building of the Parliament finally finished. However, there was no turnover on the slope for the government. Because of the constant turmoil and protests, the king dismissed the parliament and called for general elections. Finally, in January of 1905, for the first time since 1867,

the unified opposition won the snap election in February. 

As we reported, PM Viktor Orbán re-inaugurated the statue of István Tisza near the parliament in 2014. On Wednesday, government parties accepted new labour laws that allow companies to demand up to 400 hours of overtime a year and delay payment for it for three years. Beforehand, opposition politicians created chaos in the parliament, blocked stairways and blew whistles to disrupt the votes; however, they were not successful. On the evening of the vote, protests started near Budapest and other cities in which opposition parties take part together demanding the immediate abolition of the law.

PM Orbán (right) inaugurating István Tisza’s statue., Derzsi Elekes Andor

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