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To What Extent Was Germany a Parliamentary Democracy in the Years 1900-1914?

  • Date Submitted: 02/25/2015 04:36 AM
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To what extent was Germany a parliamentary democracy in the years 1900-1914?

The Second Reich in Germany from 1900-1914 can be argued to be parliamentary democracy because it did have democratic aspects about it such as universal male suffrage and the use of secret ballot. However it can also be said that the German Reich of this period did not fully represent the electorate because of a corrupt voting system.

Germany did in fact possess some parliamentary democracy in the years 1900-1914. Germany's voting system was universal suffrage for all men over the age of 25. The Reichstag held some power and they were in charge of the annual budget and defence budget; additionally they had a say in legislation. Furthermore the Reichstag also held joint legislative power with the Bundesrat. The result of this was some parliamentary democracy in Germany as men were able to vote for members to stand in the Reichstag.

However the extent to which Germany had parliamentary democracy was limited. This is because many aspects of the German parliamentary in the period 1900-1914 were authoritarian.

The Kaiser was the most powerful person in Germany. The constitution gave him considerable powers which meant the personality of the Kaiser was of great importance. The Prussian King and Kaiser Wilhelm II believed that it was the Kaiser's responsibility to rule and not share power with the Reichstag. In May 19891 he stated 'there is only one man in charge of the Reich and I will not tolerate another.' Wilhelm II had a poor opinion of the Reichstag and democracy. The result of this was an undemocratic Germany as the Kaiser himself opposed democracy.

The German Constitution in the years 1900-1914 was dominated by the Elites in Prussia; 17 of the 58 seats in the Bundesrat were led by Prussian deputies and this ensured Prussia's dominance and its ability to veto legislation. However the electorate for the Prussian Chamber of Deputies was divided by the 'three-class...


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