Reasons why Weimar Constitution was handicapped 1919-1933

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  • To what extent was the effective government of Germany in the years 1919-23 handicapped by the nature of the Weimar Constitution?
    • Factors related to constitution
      • PR
        • Any political view allowed to be put forward- gave extremism scope
          • Opened up way for wide scope, but scope became self-balancing
          • Pragmatic solution for country with vast political views across the spectrum
        • Lots of different parties with similar views- none could be elected with majority
          • Positive- extremist parties needed united front to get into power
            • System protected country from extremism (communist or fascist takeover) by prolonging democracy
            • Support close to centre (extremists needed bloc)
          • 30 parties
          • elections frequent and action a little less
        • Coalition governments
          • leading political parties chose not to operate system effectively- weren't prepared to compromise
          • People lost faith in system of PR and democracy due to instability
      • Article 48
        • If Pres. used it wrongly- were threatening democracy
          • eg. Hindenburg- used to create governments excluding SPD and including DNVP
            • SPD exclusion meant that chancellors found it difficult to build working and sustainable coalitions.
            • DNVP inclusion resulted in limitation of scope of many coalitions.
            • end of Weimar Republic and ruined democracy
          • As Pres used more often- days that Reichstag assembled dwindled and number of bills passed dropped.
            • Only became a problem in last 3 years of constitution
        • Allowed Pres. to do what they liked
          • very existence undermined constitution as did not have to cooperate
        • Tempting method to fast forward progress in slow and tedious system
          • Political effectiveness of government may have been slow, but people could see process and monitor progress.
          • By bypassing- boycotting democracy
      • The Federal System
        • Meant that central government was ruling, but each Lander was separate and could change law to suit themselves
          • Hugely diverse quantity of views and wants throughout 18 different Lander- much dissatisfaction- led to Kapp/Munich Putsch
        • Also helping- more democratic- voices of community could be heard- needs of indiv. state could be met more easily and quickly
    • Other Factors
      • Extremism
        • Largely motivated by events not political situation


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