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Politics and Economics in the Weimar Republic
Statement:
Was a firm political and economic foundation established for the long
term survival of democracy or whether the events justify the view that
the Weimar was a ’republic without republicans’.
After 1923 politics became more peaceful. There were no attempted
coups from right or left between 1924 and 1929 and also there were no
assassinations of major political figures. Extremist parties though
was still on the streets, there was frequent fights between the SA and
the red fighting league, over 50 people were killed. Elections also
gave support to the Republic, as the economic situation stabilised in
1924, so Germans switched back to voting for the main democratic
parties.
But the sense of stability was reduced by the fact that there was six
Weimar governments between 1924 and 1929, each one a short lived
coalition and most didn’t have a secure majority in the Reichstag and
no chancellor was able to hold a government together for more than two
years.
Another cause of public displeasure with politicians was the voting
system, Voters, in 35 electoral regions, voted for a party list rather
than individual politicians. It was therefore the party machine that
decided who actually became a Reichstag deputy, on the basis of the
number of votes the party list had won. The voters didn’t choose their
deputy. The prospects for a stable government were further reduced
during this period of growth of sectional interest parties which
gained a total of 78 deputies at their peak in 1930. Sectional groups
were encouraged by the proportional representation system cos only 60k
votes were needed to get a representation in the Reichstag. Their
support for narrow interests reduced the chances of the broader
compromises required for successful democratic government.
Weimar lacked a leader to deepen people’s support, it was served by
able politicians like Streseman but no body built up a dynamic support
for the government. That was a big thing it was missing cos people
looked up to charismatic and inspiring people.
Further evidence of stability comes from the presidency election in
1925, presidency was important in the Republic, given its power to
appoint and dismiss chancellors. President Elbert died and the
question on who should become the next one became a major issue. The
system says if no candidate gained over 50% in the first round, a
second round would be held where new candidates could stand! The
candidate who gets most votes is President. The SPD prussion leader
Braun pulled out and the centre party chose Wilhelm Marx. The right in
an attempt to broaden support rallied behind Paul Von Hinderburg. The
communists refused to withdraw to help a united left against the
right, the figures suggest this may have been vital in determining the
result.
The appointment of Hinderburg can be seen as both a pos and neg sign
for Weimar democracy. He did nothing unconstitutional and abided his
oath to uphold the constitution. The presence of a conservative ex
field marshal attracted some conservatives to the republic. But on the
other hand it was threatening to have someone who was uncommitted to
democracy with great powers. Hindenburg became the focus of powerful
groups who wanted a more strict system.