The Constitution of The Second Reich

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  • Created by: Eleanor
  • Created on: 30-12-13 13:54

The Second Reich 

The Consitution 

  • The architect of both German unification and the constitution of the Second Reich was Otto von Bismarck.
  • Of Prussian origin, Bismarck sought to protect the power of Prussia and the Prussian ruling elite in his cosntitution, while allowing an element of popular democracy.

The Kaiser

Strengths 

  • The Kaiser was always to be the Prussian king, this reinforced Prussia's dominant positition in the Second Reich.
  • He had full control over foreign and diplomatic policy. This meant he had the power to make alliances, sign treaties, wage war and sue for peace. 
  • In times of war he was commander in chief of the armed forces of all of Germany's states.
  • He could appoint and dismiss the Chancellor and had the power to dissolve the Reichstag. 
  • Held responsibilty to publish and oversee and implement federal law. 

Weaknesses 

  • The personality of the Kaiser was exremely important to how successful the constitution ran and whether good decisions were made for Germany.

The Chancellor 

Strengths 

  • The position of Chancellor was independent of the Reichstag.
  • He could appoint and dismiss the state secretaries and oversaw the running of the government ministries.
  • He could ignore the resolutions passed by the Reichstag.

Weaknesses

  • The position of Chancellor had a fundamental weakness. He and his ministers were solely responsible to the Kaiser.
  • However, as Wilhelm I and Bismarck worked together well, this weakness was covered up.
  • Unless Chancellor and Kaiser had a mutual respect and a common political outlook, the entire system would be very difficult to effectively run.
  • Success also depended on the make up of the Reichstag.
  • Even though he could ignore it, he needed to be able to

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