Second Reich Essay

1459 Words6 Pages
“The constitution of the Second Reich was fundamentally undemocratic in nature”. How far do you agree? The Second Reich was established in 1871 and lasted until 1918. “Reich” means ‘state’ I German, so this was classed as the second German state, under Kaiser Wilhelm the second, a Prussian who ruled Germany at the time. The victory in France (1871) led to unification, which was on Prussia’s terms and conditions. In fact the Prussian “North German Confederation” (1867) was basically carried on and refined when it came to unification. In my opinion, the Second Reich had a semi-absolutist (autocratic) regime, mostly leaning toward autocracy than democracy. Factors such as the power of the army and the dominance of Prussia would aid my opinion, the Reichstag being one of the key elements of debate. Some historians would even go as far as to say that the Chancellor was also democratic, implying that the Second Reich was indeed a semi-autocratic system. I believe the main power in Germany was Prussia. Firstly, Bismarck was the Chancellor of the federal state and Minister President of Prussia itself, signifying that he would do his utmost best to protect the interests of the Prussians and the upper classes (junkers). As the Chancellor was appointed by the Kaiser, there is clear evidence of autocracy. The Chancellor had a very important role, as he oversaw the running of government ministries, being able to appoint and dismiss state secretaries. If the Chancellor was anything like Bismarck, he would most likely be biased on the side of the junkers when it came to decision making. Working well with the Kaiser and being manipulative was important in order to be a successful Chancellor, which Bismarck demonstrated very well. He even had the power to ignore resolutions made by the Reichstag, which was ironic, because he needed them to pass laws. Because the Chancellor had to
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