Upon the outbreak of the Prussian Kulturkampf the Left had pressed the Right to introduce an Italian counterpart to the Prussian May laws, especially as the attitude of Thiers and the hostility of the French Clericals obviated the need for sparing French susceptibilities.
Anti-clericals and freemasons, divorce being regarded not as a social institution but as a weapon against Catholicism.
In October 1904, after the September strikes, the Chamber was dissolved, and at the general elections in November a ministerial majority was returned, while the deputies of the Extreme Left (Socialists, Republicans and Radicals) were reduced from 107 to 94, and a few mild clericals elected.
At the general elections of March I9o9, over a score of Clerical deputies were returned, Clericals of a very mild tone who had no thought of the temporal power and were supporters of the monarchy and anti-socialists; where no Clerical candidate was in the field the Catholic voters plumped for the constitutional candidate against all representatives of the Extreme Left.
Seen in the situation an opportunity at once for conciliating the clericals in France and for humiliating Russia, which had given to his title but an equivocal recognition.