- 1871 - Germany became a unified country after the Franco-Prussian war
- This new Country, established a constitution in which the component states kept their own governments but military matters were controlled by the King of Prussia - the Kaiser.
- Under this constitution there was a central law-making body with limited powers
- Otto Von Bismarck was the author of the constitution and Germany's first chancellor - his aim with the constitution was to preserve the power of the elite in Prussia.
MAIN FEATURES OF THE CONSTITUTION
1. THE FEDERAL STATE
- Germany included 25 states - states ruled their own governments and had different constitutions.
- They had wide-ranging power over domestic affairs such as education, police, justice and health care.
2. THE KAISER
- Kaiser was the Prussian King - reinforcing Prussian dominance.
- Kaiser held full control over foreign and diplomatic affairs (he had the power to make alliances, wage war, sign treaties, sue for peace)
- comander in chief of the armed forces of all the German states.
- Had a considerable influence over the government of the country
- He appointed / dismissed the Chancellor and had the power to dissolve the Reichstag.
- Kaiser had the responsibility to publish and oversee the implementation of federal law.
3. KAISER WILHELM II
- The personality of the Kaiser was of vital importance since the Kaiser held considerable powers.
- Wilhelm 2nd had an unhappy childhood - born with an arm and an ear damaged at birth.
- Believed it was his responsibility to rule Germany rather than share power with the Reichstag.
- poor decision maker, not a hard worker, short attention span
- Heavily influenced by the military - he turned to them for advice
- poor opinion of democracy and the Reichstag.
4. THE CHANCELLOR
- Directly responsible to the Kaiser as chief minister of the Reich.
- In charge of the appointment / dismissal of state secretaries who ran the government ministries.
- The Chancellor could ignore resolutions passed by the Reichstag.
- Bismarck gave the Chancellor considerable powers to manipulate both the Kaiser and the Reichstag.
- The Suceess of the Chancellor depended on: his political ability, his relationship with the Kaiser, composition of Reichstag.
- The constitution and role of…