Bismarck successfully controlled the political opposition he faced in the years 1871-1890. To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Authors Avatar by drmshahi04gmailcom (student)

‘Bismarck successfully controlled the political opposition he faced in the years 1871-1890.’ To what extent do you agree with this statement? (25)

Bismarck failed to control his political opposition to a significant extent during the years 1871-90. By controlling his opposition the Chancellor should have been able to pass laws he preferred in the Reichstag which expanded the power and independence of the the Federal Government and strengthened the unification of Germany, and while working with the National Liberals between 1871-79 Bismarck was able to achieve this,but the numerous times that the Reichstag obstructed him and the manner in which he left office demonstrates Bismarck’s failure to control the Centre Party, the Socialists and Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Bismarck failed to destroy political catholicism as a major force in German Politics, making his control of the Centre Party a failure. The Centre Party gained support, growing from 58 to 91 seats between 1871 and 1874, following the introduction of the May Laws in 1873 which aimed to bring the Catholic Church under state control. The May Laws included measures which meant that all priests had to attend secular universities, and needed state approval for their religious appointments. Clergy which resisted could be fined, exiled or imprisoned. However, by 1878 Bismarck accepted that he had failed and exiled clergy were allowed to return. The failure of the Kulturkampf meant that Bismarck had not only failed to control political Catholicism, but had helped politicise a Catholic minority which felt under siege.  Their sizable representation in the Reichstag meant that Bismarck often needed their support to pass laws, which gave the party leverage over Bismarck. For example, although the Centre Party supported the 1879 Tariff Act, the ‘Frankenstein Clause’ introduced by a Centre Party deputy meant that revenues exceeding 130 million marks would be divided among the states and then returned to the federal government through state contributions. This frustrated Bismarck’s attempts to make the federal government financially independent, demonstrating that rather than Bismarck controlling the Centre Party, the Centre Party could control Bismarck.

Join now!

The failure of the anti-Socialist Laws and the growth of the Social Democrats in the Reichstag demonstrate Bismarck’s failure to control the socialists. Bismarck viewed socialists as dangerous revolutionaries, and the class warfare ideology that they espoused was a clear threat to Bismarck’s class based society which he wanted to maintain, making control of the Socialists a political necessity. In October 1878, the anti-socialist bill passed ,which banned Socialist Organisations, meetings and publications, which aimed to destroy Socialist opposition to Bismarck. However, between 1878 and 1890 the SPD grew from 7% to 19% of voter turnout, and held 35 ...

This is a preview of the whole essay