Elections in Lviv during the Years 1861–1914 as a Pretext to Illustrate the City’s Social and Political Potential

Elections in Lviv during the Years 1861–1914 as a Pretext to Illustrate the City’s Social and Political Potential

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Magdalena Semczyszyn

Institute of National Remembrance, Szczecin

December 16, 2011

Center for Urban History, Lviv

Magdalena Semczyszyn, this year's Resident Scholar, presented her research.

As part of the project, the author proposes to view the election campaigns in Lviv for the Galician National Sejm, and – starting from 1873 – for the Imperial Council of Austria, and utilize this information for the analysis of social relations within the city. The author uses an interdisciplinary approach, which affords the possibility to analyze the complex social relations during the rise of contemporary political movements and national categories. Apart from determining the social-demographic profile of the voters and candidates themselves, the project will attempt to present election campaigns as phenomena linked with the city, shaping the views of its residents (not only those of eligible voters) and stimulating estrangement, and at times open conflict between citizens. Although the voters constituted only a small group among the city’s population, the election campaigns – as Jan Lam wrote – invoked a "voting frenzy"in Lviv, and paralyzed everyday life for several weeks. At the turn of the 20th century, with the appearance of postulates to hold general and equal elections, election campaigns became more aggressive in form. Politics, as the key to a happier life, began to interest many social groups.

In summation, the project encompassed the following topics:

  • Lviv as the center of political groups and hub of the formation of political ideas
  • Election rhetoric: the term "national solidarity" and "national candidate", debates between candidates
  • Social engineering and election propaganda: brochures, rallies, posters, satire, pre-election gatherings, fliers, religious ceremonies and masses, paid canvassers, election-related customs, local election symbolism (relating to the city’s history)
  • Election-related fraud and protests
  • Social-demographic profiles of Lviv voters
  • Polish-Jewish and Polish-Ukrainian relations during the elections
  • The increase in the political awareness of the city’s residents
  • Non-voters' engagement in the elections