Political developments 1880s
Bismarck was dismissed because of the political developments in the 1880s:
- 1881: Liberals gained seats from the Conservatives which meant that Bismarck could no longer depend on Reichstag support.
- 1884: To win support back from the Conservatives, he introduced the Colonial policy which helped win some seats back.
- 1887: Liberals put pressure on Bismarck as they disagreed over the army budget, and the Reichstag didn't like the fact that they only had a say every 7 years.
- Bismarck dissolved the Reichstag which allowed him to get his own way and protect the army. He also produced a war scare.
Dissolving the Reichstag failed as it took the element of democracy away and it was only covering Bismarck's tracks. It also showed that his constitution was ineffective.
Personality of the new Kaiser
Bismarck was dismissed partly because of the new Kaiser's personality:
- Wilhelm was committed to the belief that he ruled by the divine right of Kings.
- 'I'll let the boy potter along for another 6 months... Then I'll rule myself!' This shows that Kaiser fully intended to rule on his own and would eventually dismiss Bismarck despite what would happen.
- He was very complex, intelligent and energetic.
- He was a nationalist.
- He was overbearing, arrogant and erratic.
- There was a big age difference between the Kaiser and Bismarck: Wilhelm was 29 and Bismarck was in his 70s. So they were raised in two completely different generations.
- As a result, Wilhelm was more modern than Bismarck, who was very traditional.
Bismarck was dismissed because of the policy differences between him and the Kaiser:
- Wilhelm questioned the need to maintain the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia.
- They disagreed over social policy: Wilhelm was confident that he could win over the working class by a modest extension of the welfare system, but Bismarck was not confident in this.
- Bismarck favoured repression and proposed anti socialist laws, but Wilhelm wanted it to be watered down. Bismarck refused.
- The 1890 election was a disaster.
- Bismarck was entrapped and his desperation increased.