Germany Succeeded In Maintaining The Political Status Quo Through A Policy Of Moderate Reform

Words: 1511
Pages: 7

The political establishment in Germany succeeded in maintaining the political status quo through a policy of moderate reform. How far do you agree with this statement?

The political establishment during the Second Reich in Germany were successful in maintaining the political status quo between the years 1871 and 1918. It can be argued however, that they were successful in doing so through more than just a policy of moderate reform. During these years, Germany abided by a rigid constitution which allowed power to ultimately be firmly held in the hands of the Kaiser. A great sense of nationalism and patriotism also existed in Germany and the vast majority of the German population heavily valued the Kaiser. Furthermore, the constitution
…show more content…
It was an uneasy alliance however, with the Left Liberals demanding the kinds of social reform which the conservatives found intolerable. It may therefore be seen that ultimately, moderate reform in the Second Reich was lacking in substance and efficiency. This is demonstrated once again in the chancellorship of Hollweg when he failed to reform the Prussian voting system, the ‘3 class franchise’ in 1910. He was defeated by the Conservatives and so the proposals had to be dropped. Overall, the lack of any real depth to any reform, together with the lack of success in some of its implementation clearly show that moderate reform only played a small role in maintaining the status quo in Germany.

Secondly, an alternative argument is that the rigidity of the constitution in Germany is what allowed the political establishment to maintain the status quo. The German constitution was entrenched in Prussian dominance; demonstrated by the fact that Prussia held 17 out of 58 seats in the Bundesrat. In the 1908 Prussian election, 418,000 votes meant 212 Conservative seats, whereas 600,000 votes meant 6 SPD seat. This shows how representation was heavily skewed, and this made it difficult for the political status quo to even be challenged. Constituency boundaries had also not changed since the 1870s, and this is what allowed the Bulow-bloc to be successful, thus countering the emerging opposition towards the chancellor. Furthermore, it can be argued