The Weimar Republic

The Weimar Republic was formed

The Weimar Republic was the first time Germany had ever been governed as a democracy. It was designed to give the German people a voice. However, there were major flaws in its constitution that made it weak.

1. The Council of People's Representatives organised elections in January 1919 to create a new parliament. Germany was now a democracy - the people would say how the country was run.

2. Friedrich Ebert became the first President, with Philip Scheidemann as Chancellor. Ebert was leader of the SPD, a moderate party of socialists.

3. February 1919, the members of the new Reichstag met at Weimar to create a new constitution for Germany. This was the beginning of a new period of Germany's history that historians call the Weimar Republic.

The constitution established how the government would be organised and established its main principles.

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The Weimar Constitution made Germany More Democrat

The new constitution reorganised the German system of government.                                                                       The President was elected by the German people, and so were the parties in the Reichstag. The president had the most power, but the Chancellor was in charge of day-to-day running of government.

President

  • Elected every 7 years.
  • Chooses the Chancellor and is head of the army.
  • Can dissolve the Reichstag, call new elections and suspend the constitution                                              Proportional representation is where a proportion of seats a party wins in parliament is roughly the same as the proportion of total votes they win.

Reichstag

  • The new German Parliament.
  • Members elected every 4 years using proportional representation

Reichsrat

  • Second house of parliament.
  • Consists of members from each local region.
  • Can delay measures passed by the Reichstag.
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Part 2

1. The new constitution was designed to be as fair as possible. Even very small political parties were given seats in the Reichstag if they got 0.4% of the vote or above.

2. The constitution allowed women to vote for the first time, and lowered the voting age to 20 - more Germans could vote and the German public had greater power.

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The Constitution had Weaknesses

Even though it was more democratic, it wasn't very efficient.

1. Proportional representation meant that even parties with a very small number of votes were guaranteed to get into the Reichstag. This meant it was difficult to make decisions because there were so many parties, and they all had different points of view.

2. When a decision couldn't be reached, the President could suspend the constitution and pass laws without the Reichstag's consent. (Article 48 - his ability to force through his own decision).

3. This power was only supposed to be used in an emergency, but became a useful way of getting around disagreements that took place in the Reichstag. This meant it undermined the new democracy.

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