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To what extent was Germany a parliamentary democracy in the years 1900-1914?

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Introduction

´╗┐To what extent was Germany a parliamentary democracy in the years 1900-1914? By Patrick Woodcock Parliamentary democracy refers to an democratic system of government in which the party which has the largest amount of support from the electorate and the greatest representation in the Reichstag becomes the executive, therefore accurately representing the opinions of the majority of the population. During the period 1900-1914, Germany?s political landscape witnessed extraordinary changes in which typical features associated with a parliamentary democracy- such as significant and influential pressure group activity and universal suffrage- were present. It can however be argued that this period also represented a time in which the German Reichstag did not truly represent the population due to archaic and corrupt voting system for Prussia which saw votes disproportionately given and the role of all the chancellors- in particular Von Bulow- during this time, which saw unelected officials yielding greater influence than that of the Reichstag. The extent to which Germany was accurately an parliamentary democracy is the subject of controversy due to the many contrasting features of the political system- Germany may have had many features where an ?parliamentary democracy? can be boasted, but there are also just as many contrasting points which expose the system as being corrupt and broken. ...read more.

Middle

Bismark is known to have wanted the cooperation of the Reichstag in matters relating to passing legislation, yet denied the Reichstag the status and importance of its counterparts in order to restrict their influence. Bismark knew that introducing the idea of universal suffrage would project the idea of parliamentary democracy and preserve stability within the newly unified Germany, yet was also aware that the Reichstag was an assembly which lacked any real power. It can therefore be said that this ?universal suffrage? was in fact a smoke screen created by Bismark in order to hide the true, doctoral nature of the Germany political system. If the purpose of introducing universal suffrage is to act as an mask for the elitist, un representative political system, then it cannot be said that this represents Germany as an parliamentary democracy, when the aim of it is in fact the complete opposite. Germany?s corrupt political system is able emphasis the idea that it was not an parliamentary democracy. This is seen in regards to the Prussian three class franchise voting system which was introduced by Wilhelm IV in 1849 and not abolished until 1918. ...read more.

Conclusion

Chancellor Bethmann Hollwegs attempts to reform the corrupt system in 1917 can be seen as an example of parliamentary democracy in action due to the fact that the executive were reacting to the public?s dissatisfaction, however Kaiser Wilhelm II attempts to water down the reform by not setting an particular date or plan for change only angered the public further, with the three class franchise remaining in place until the German revolution of 1919-thus showing that parliamentary democracy remained very ineffective within Germany. The voting system within Prussian also allowed for a large amount of votes being incredibly dispropionate. In 1908, Prussian conservatives won 16% votes and 212 seats, yet the Social Demoncrat Party achieved 23% of votes and just 7 seats. This is significant in revealing how undemocratic Germany could still be due to the fact that the true opinion of the electorate was clearly not being accurately represented in favour of preserving conservative politicians rule. Parliamentary democracy can be seen to have been significant within Germany between 1900-1914 due to the wide range and variety of political parties which operated at this time. ...read more.

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