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