Reichstag Building in 1918

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: Dictatorship in Europe: Dictatorship in Germany: The Weimer Republic Constitution

  • The constitution was drafted in February 1919 with the following provisions:
    1. President – He was elected by popular vote and held the office for seven years. The president elected the chancellor and the president was not responsible for the day to day running of the state
    2. Chancellor (Prime Minister) – Was appointed into office by the president. He had to get at least half of the Reichstag (Parliament) support. He was in charge of the day to day running of the state
    3. Proportional Representation – Each political party had seats in the parliament based on the votes they got. Voting was used for members of the Reichstag. For example, a party which got 50% of the votes would have 50 seats
    4. Cabinet – it was selected by the Chancellor. They were responsible for monitoring the activities of the Reichstag
    5. Franchise – German men above the age of 2 voted for the Reichstag and president

Weakness of the Constitution

  • The President of the Weimer Republic could make use of special powers
  • thereby he could suppress the liberties of people during emergency situations
  • This became a major problem of the Weimer Republic when they faced problems caused by the Great Depression
  • Small political parties’ growth was enabled by proportional representation
  • It became difficult for one party to get majority rule and this encouraged the formation of ma y coalitions
  • By 1933 Weimer Republic had had 21 different cabinets
  • As each political party had members in the Reichstag, it was difficult to form a strong government
  • There about 8 or 9 political parties such as the Social Democratic Party and the Catholic Centre Party
  • The right to form private armies granted by the constitution led to an increase in violence activities caused by parties like the Nazi Party

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