How far was Bismarck successful in achieving his key foreign and domestic political goals between 1871 and 1879?

  • Created by: becky.65
  • Created on: 29-03-18 13:46

Bismarck's co-operation, and eventual break, with the National Liberals:

  • The National Liberal Party was the most popular Reichstag party in the first decade after unification
  • 1867 - formed by politicians who supported Bismarcks creation of unification
  • Led by Benningsen and represented the interests of the industrial and professional middle classes
  • Held a strong patriotic belief in German unification
  • Its ideology focused on:
    • national unity 
    • promotion of civil liberties
  • The Liberals were strong advocates of free trade, believing that a truely united Germany with a single economic system and no protectionist policies was the best means of expanding middle class and industrial wealth
  • 1871 - first elections; National Liberals won 30.1% of the vote, the most of all the political parties
  • 1874 - vote dropped to 29.7% but they were still the largest party
  • Bismarck was prepared to work with the National Liberals at this time
  • A considerable amount of liberal legislation relating to free trade was passed during the early stages of unification:
    • freedom of movement restrictions were removed
    • laws restricting the charging of interest on loans were removed
    • weights and measurements were standardied
    • the Reichsmarck became the sole legal currency 
    • import duties on certain metal products were removed
  • Germany moved towards an economic integration that broke down barries between states and helped to unify their economic system
  • Provided the basis for economic growth in the 1890s
  • National Liberal ideology supported constitutional change towards greater democracy and civil liberties for Germans
  • As they were the largest party, they could not be ignored
  • Bismarck hoped through co-operating with the National Liberals in economic policy, that the educated middle classes who voted for the National Liberals would remian happy with the economic benefits, thus they would be less concered about pushing for democracy 
  • Both Bismarck and the National Liberals feared the Catholic support for the Centre Party, which they believed was a threat to national unity 
  • National Liberals supported Bismarck's attempts to restrict the Catholic Church
  • Up to 1879, Bismarck was prepared to co-operate with the National Liberals, although he did not support their ideology
  • He always expected to govern with the support of the middle classes represented by the Liberals
  • mid-1870s - tension over Bismarck's refusal to extend parliamentary power was growing
  • For Bismarck, the solution to this problem was to try to find a means of splitting the National Liberals and then work with more right-wing elements of the party
  • The strong push for tariff reform was driven by political considerations, as much as it was by economic concerns
  • Tariff reform was strongly supported by the Conservative Party as well as small farmers and peasents, many of whom had previously voted for the National Liberals
  • 1878 - Bismarck's election campaign put forward that those who supported free trade were traitors against German interests 
  • This undermined the National Liberals; their vote declined to 23.1%
  • 1879 - split in the National Liberals came over the vote concerning the introduction of protective tariffs
  • August 1880 - party officically split into those more right-wing…


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