Flashcards in The Weimar Constitution Deck (15)
How often were presidents elected?
Every seven years
What could the president do?
Dissolve the reichstag and block any new laws by calling a referendum . They could use article 48 to suspend the reichstag and rule by decree in the case of 'national emergency'
The new parliament was to be made up of which two houses?
The reichsrat - which has power to delay laws. Its members were chosen by the parliaments of the länder
The reichstag for which elections to be held every four years
What was proportional representation?
When seats are given in proportion to the votes cast, I.e. If a party wins 50% of he votes, it wins 50% of the seats
Who could vote in Germany?
All men and women over 20
What did the bill of rights guarantee?
Individual rights such as freedom of speech and the right to belong to a union
What are the reasons for believing that the constitution weakened the Republic?
Many of its features were not accepted e.g. Proportional representation, parliamentary government or civil liberties. Germans weren't used to these elements, too much of a dramatic change
The constitution was a product of a compromise between the most successful parties in the January 1919 election to the National Assembly. Therefore it can be argued that the constitutions base was narrow and unrepresentative
What are the reasons that the constitution did not weaken the Republic?
The Weimar constitution reflected a broad spectrum of political opinion, it even included those on the nationalist right such as the dnvp
It reflected successful constitutional practise at the time and had built into it checks and balances, which of used carefully, might have led to political stability (trying to mirror Britain)
The problem with the WC was not its design, but it's misuse by the new republics opponents
What did proportional representation lead to?
Coalition governments that rose and fell with spectacular frequency.
What happened in the period up until 1923?
A series of governments failed to establish themselves
In a period of such instability, it might have been assumed that a majority system of voting might have been more effective in combating attacks from left and right and would have been more effective in guaranteeing weimars stability and survival
Why was proportional representation introduced?
Because it represented continuity in party politics from before 1914
Why did coalition governments fail?
No because the voting system forced them into being but that the leading political parties chose not to operate the system effectively
This was particularly so in the case of the SPD whose leaders found it difficult to break the habit of opposition and accept the compromise offered by Weimar
What was the aim of the authors of the constitution?
By insisting that the president was elected directly by the people for a period in office of seven years, with the power to disband the reichstag and dismiss the government, they created a counterbalance to any potential 'elected parliamentary dictatorship'
What was the positive side to article 48?
The creation of string executive powers was a further attempt at creating political continuity
Every used article 48 as an instrument for the preservation of the Republic, the best example occurring in November 1923 when he used it to give power to the army to put down the Munich putsch
It allows government sufficient flexibility to overcome the main problems facing the Republic between 1919 and 1923