Problems faced by the German government 1888-1814

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Between the years of 1890 and 1914, the Wilhelmine government faced a number of problems. Under William I, it was Bismarck who was left in charge of all political matters but the new Kaiser wanted to play a major part in politics. Each of the chancellors he appointed during this period, Caprivi, Hohenlohe, Bulow and Bethmann Hollweg had certain issues they had to deal with in German politics, both in terms of foreign and domestic policy. The first in line to succeed the legendary Bismarck was Caprivi. His major problem was that he tried to stand above politics and rally support from issue to issue in the Reichstag. He wanted the members of the Reichstag to act more selflessly and although this seems admirable, it did not work. Political parties put their own interests ahead of national interests, particularly the Conservatives. The first problem faced by the government under Caprivi was the tariff policy. Ever since 1879, Germany had upheld a policy of protection for both agriculture and industry. Caprivi reformed the tariff act of 1879. The bread tax was causing widespread discontent. Bad harvests as well as a shortage of wheat sent prices very high. Caprivi decided Germany must export. It was between men and goods but Germany could not afford to export men for imperial security. Caprivi negotiated commercial treaties which assured Germany of markets for industrial exports for the next twelve years in return for a reduction of the tariffs on cattle, timbre, rye and wheat. Between 1891 and 1894, treaties were signed with Italy, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Belgium and several other countries. This policy gained a broad spectrum of support as most parties, apart from the Conservatives, realised the benefits of lower food prices. It now seemed that Caprivi could perhaps make the Bismarckian system work in a progressive and progressive fashion, but it was not to

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