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To What Extent Was the Second Reich an Entrenched Autocracy Between 1900-1914?

  • Date Submitted: 10/14/2013 06:31 AM
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To what extent was the Second Reich an entrenched autocracy between 1900-1914?

In the years 1900-1914 there was arguably a significant move towards democracy within Germany. There were general desire for political and social reform and many wished for constitutional change. However, come 1914 Germany still remained nearly as autocratic as it had been back in 1900. Over this period it can clearly be shown through 3 key areas: the Constitution, German policy and events, that, regardless of attempted moves towards democracy, Germany truly was an entrenched autocracy in this period.

The German Imperial Constitution of 1871 was widely regarded by contemporaries to be one of the most democratic in the world. People commented at the time how it was more democratic than the UK system of first-past-the-post and the people of Germany were proud that their country was now the European capital of democracy. The Reichstag had universal male suffrage over the age of 25 and was elected by secret ballot. The people felt that they had the true power in Germany as any legislation that was proposed by the Chancellor had to be passed by them and as well as this they could stop any form of direct taxation put forward by the Imperial Government (who could only raise indirect taxes without consent) through blocking such. However, the Reichstag was not nearly as democratic as it initially seems: it couldn’t produce its own legislation and the only person who could, the Chancellor, couldn’t be removed by them. Similarly the Kaiser and Ministers were untouchable. Whilst the people of Germany voted for who represented them the very fact that the members of the Reichstag were unpaid guaranteed an unfair representation of conservative members, ironic considering it is meant to be the most democratic constitution using proportional representation. The Bundesrat was the collection of 58 representatives who spoke for the federal states of Germany. This was thought to be democratic as it...

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