Kálmán Széll

Kálmán Széll
de Duka et Szentgyörgyvölgy
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Hungary
In office
26 February 1899  27 June 1903
Monarch Francis Joseph I
Preceded by Dezső Bánffy
Succeeded by Károly Khuen-Héderváry
Personal details
Born (1843-06-08)8 June 1843
Gasztony, Hungary
Died 16 August 1915(1915-08-16) (aged 72)
Rátót, Hungary
Nationality Hungarian
Spouse(s) Ilona Vörösmarty
The native form of this personal name is dukai és szentgyörgyvölgyi dr. Széll Kálmán. This article uses the Western name order.

Kálmán Széll de Duka et Szentgyörgyvölgy (8 June 1843 – 16 August 1915) was a Hungarian politician who served as Prime Minister of Hungary from 1899 to 1903.

Early career

He studied in Pest and Vienna, and in 1867 became deputy for the district of Szentgotthárd. He very quickly won the reputation of being remarkably well informed on economic and financial questions. Széll was one of Ferenc Deák's confidants, whose ward, the daughter of the Hungarian poet Mihály Vörösmarty, he married.

In 1875, he was finance minister in the cabinet of Kálmán Tisza, and as such imposed on himself the task of restoring the shattered credit of Hungary. In 1878 he concluded with Austria the first economic "balancing" (German: Ausgleich). At that time, the single Austrian bank was changed, in conformity with this arrangement, into the dualistic Austro-Hungarian bank, and Széll consolidated the Hungarian Rentes, and nearly succeeded in balancing the state finances. As he feared that this balance would again be upset by the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he resigned from the cabinet, incurring thereby the displeasure of the crown. He still kept his seat in parliament, and as deputy constantly criticized the financial policy of the Tisza cabinet.

At the beginning of the 1880s Széll founded the Hungarian Mortgage Credit Bank, of which he was governor until the end of his life. He opened entirely new sources of credit for Hungarian agriculture. He declined repeated offers of the portfolio of finance.

Prime minister

When Dezső Bánffy's ministry suffered a serious crisis at the end of 1898 and was compelled to resign in February 1899, Széll was entrusted with the formation of a new cabinet. By means of the Pact of 23 February 1899, he restored parliamentary peace. On the basis of the so-called Széll formula, a new Ausgleich with Austria until the year 1907 was concluded after long negotiations. The most important result of this was that Hungary attained the status of an independent customs area, but, under the arrangement for reciprocity, still maintained intact the existing conditions of the Customs Union with Austria.

In 1901, under Széll's Ministry, the new elections resulted in a Liberal victory, and Prime Minister Széll formed a government. A year later began the struggle for the reform of the national defense, and Széll introduced in 1902 a law for increasing the number of recruits, in exchange for which the Independent Party — under the slogan of "no more soldiers without the introduction of Hungarian as the language service and command" — wanted concessions to the principle of nationality. The obstruction against the provision for defense lasted from the end of January to 4 April 1903, and resulted in the suspension of the constitution ("Ex lex" condition). Széll sought to wear down the opposition by delay. As part of the majority would not agree to this, he resigned on 16 June 1903.

Party leader

When his successor, István Tisza, on 18 November 1904, brought about a split in the Liberal party by forcing through parliament new rules of procedure, Széll joined Gyula Andrássy in the secession from the party. Under the coalition cabinet of Sándor Wekerle, Széll was chosen chairman of the Constitution Party. He tried continually, but in vain, to bridge the opposition between Tisza and Andrássy.


Széll married Ilona Vörösmarty, daughter of poet Mihály Vörösmarty on 16 September 1867. They had a daughter, named Ilona. His niece Marianne Csáky-Széll married Czech viollinist Jan Kubelík.[1]



Political offices
Preceded by
Kálmán Ghyczy
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Kálmán Tisza
Preceded by
Dezső Bánffy
Prime Minister of Hungary
Succeeded by
Károly Khuen-Héderváry
Preceded by
Dezső Perczel
Minister of the Interior
Preceded by
Manó Széchényi
Minister besides the King

Succeeded by
Gyula Széchényi
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gyula Andrássy the Younger
Chairman of the Constitution Party
Succeeded by
János Hadik
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