The Establishment of the Weimar Constitution in 1919

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  • The Establishment of the Weimar Constitution in 1919
    • Elections to the Constituent Assembly
      • 19th January 1919 - elections for the constituent assembly happened (women were allowed to vote for the first time)
        • SPD secured the most seats in the house but still weren’t a majority. They would have to compromise with other parties to get a majority during votes.
      • Ebert was elected as the President of the Republic
      • A new government led by philipp Scheidemann was formed by the SPD in coalition with the Centre and German Democratic Parties
        • Workers’ and soldiers’ councils handed over power to the new constituent assembly
        • Main new parties were…..
          • Centre party
          • Germany democratic party (DDP)
          • German National people’s party (DNVP)
          • German people’s Party (DVP)
    • Strengths and Weaknesses of the Weimar Constitution 1919:
      • Strengths
        • Women could vote and become deputies in the Reichstag and state parliaments
        • The system of proportional representation enabled smaller parties to win seats in the reichstag + influence decisions
        • Full democracy in central and local government
        • The constitution set out the rights of the individual
        • Referendum could be called for by the President, the reichsrat or by the people’s request
      • Weaknesses
        • The proliferation of smaller parties enabled smaller parties to exploit the parliamentary system to gain publicity
        • Due to the new amount of smaller parties, none of the large parties could get a majority leading to lots of unsuccessful coalition government
        • Article 48 (Rule by Presidential Decree) - this gave the President power to rule under exceptional circumstances. This meant that presidents could take advantage and democracy would fail
        • The survival of undemocratic institutions
          • The army - Leaders were determined to keep it free from governmental control. General Hans Von Seeckt believed the army had no loyalties to the Republic, under him believed the army could intervene in politics.
          • The Civil Service - civil servants were given rights to freedom of opinion. Thus left the non-democratic servants doing the administration. Top civil servants could gain extreme power
          • The Judiciary - the constitution guaranteed the independence of judges. these men were monarchists and anti-democratic and showed their bias in court. Members of left-wing groups brought to court were punished extremely severely, while right-wing conspirators got off lightly.

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