Paper 1; Germany and West Germany


Overcoming challenges to the democratic constitution 1918-29

Political and governmental change 1918-29/Economic crises and government response 1918–23

1919 January election:

  • 82.7% of electors took part, clearly wanted to be involved in choosing gov.
  • SPD did not get the majority it was hoping for and had to form a coalition with the Centre party and DDP. 
  • Other parties gained seats in Reichstag e.g. DNVP gained 10.3% and the backing of powerful people
  • 7th Feb Ebert announced victory for democracy
  • 11th Feb elected President 277 votes to 51
  • Constitution passed by National assembly 31st July 1919

Structure of government


Elected every 7 years by electors - all men and women over 20 - as a person not a party representative. Chooses chancellor and can activate Article 48 but must be signed by chancellor and can be undone by next Reichstag. Can control army and dismiss Reichstag and call elections.


Reports to and advises President. Chooses ministers that run the country and all laws put to Reichstag needs majority to pass.


Elected by secret ballot by electors every 4 years. Proportional representation, one seat for every 60,000 votes. Passes laws.


Chosen by chancellor, formulates laws for Reichstag.


Members sent by 18 Lander (local govs), 1 every 70,000 in the land. Can veto a law unless Reichstag has a majority of 2/3. 


18 local regions, each with a local parliament to decide on issues in region e.g. education, police.

Problems with the constitution

Too many parties - It took only 60,000 votes to gain a seat in the Reichstag. Although democratic, it made the Reichstag less effective as each party had a different motive and they could not agree on policies etc. There were 29 political parties in the Reichstag in the 1920s. This caused splits and members of parties moved between parties, confusing voters.

Coalitions - Almost impossible for a party to have a majority in the Reichstag. All chancellors…


No comments have yet been made