Who's Who - Count Mihaly Karolyi von Nagykaroly
Count Mihaly Karolyi von Nagykaroly (1875-1955) served as Hungary's last Prime Minister before its independence from the Habsburg Empire in November 1918.
Born on 4 March 1875 in Fot to a prominent aristocratic Hungarian family, Karolyi entered politics with his election to the Hungarian parliament in 1910 in his expected capacity as a conservative. He quickly shifted his views to left however.
Among Karolyi's policies he argued for land reform, universal suffrage and equality for Hungary's non-Magyar subjects - all of which were considered extreme in pre-war Austria-Hungarian politics. Consequently he found himself marginalised with the result that he established his own party in 1916.
Belatedly attempting to preserve the Dual Monarchy the Emperor, Karl I, appointed Karolyi as Hungarian Prime Minister on 31 October 1918, replacing Alexander Wekerle, who had earned the ire of Karl by declaring Hungarian independence on 19 October, although Karl remained nominal King (hence his ability to promptly engineer Wekerle's downfall)
Alas for Karl Karolyi's appointment did not abate the fire of Hungarian nationalism as he hoped; instead it brought it to a head. The day following his appointment as Prime Minister Karolyi asked for release from his imperial oath, a request granted by Karl.
Ten days later, on 11 November 1918, Karolyi completed Wekerle's earlier task by proclaiming a Hungarian republic, partly with the hope of stemming the Allies' subsequent territorial demands at treaty talks by distancing the country from the dissolved Habsburg Empire (in the event without success).
Karolyi's popularity fell as the Allies' made repeated demands for territorial concessions. In March 1919 his government fell in the face of a Communist coup led by Bela Kun.
Karolyi spent the following 27 years in exile, returning to Hungary in 1946 as a left-wing socialist. He was appointed ambassador to Paris from 1947-49 but resigned following the arrest of Laszlo Rajk.
He died on 20 March 1955 in Vence, France, at the age of 80.
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