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In my reading it's struck me that autocracy relies solely on the character of the autocrat. Noble men incur enlightened ages, their conceited sons usher in tyranny. The Emperor (or even King, Kaiser, Tsaar, Imperator, Grand Duke.. the list goes on) could well be a just, charismatic figure chosen by God/Providence to rule the Empire and is supported not only by High Lord/Electors, the highest rank of the Imperial Diet, but also by largle sections of popular opinion. The Parliament, while the franchise is highly restrictive, seats members who (for the most part) are sincerely representing their constiuant population centers/systems.
The rebels/reformist movement is led, I suggest, by the lower nobility; men of means and power side-lined by tradition and legalities, unable to effectively rule due to pressures from central government to conform in both action and faith.
While the civil war is one of independance, it's not a clear-cut virtuous mission against tyranny. The Lesser Nobles, joined by Industrialists and spurned Higher Nobles, fight not only to overthrow the yoke for the good of the people but to gain a great deal of personal power too!
Ambitions run wild; it's not Tyranny vs. Democracy - it's Monarchy versus Meritocracy!