The constitution of the new Republic was also destined to fail. On paper, it seemed like one of the most moderate and democratic constitutions of Europe at the time. It envisioned the government to be headed by a president with limited but at times strong constitutional powers. The Reichstag, or parliament, was filled with a subjective number of elected representatives. These representatives, in turn, elected the Reichstag’s chancellor and cabinet, which would remain in power only as long as they controlled majority approval in the Reichstag. In the event that no single party or candidate controlled a majority, then coalitions would have to be created.
- Unfortunately, the constitution also had several serious defects. One of the worst was Article 48 of the constitution, which gave dictatorial powers to the president in times of national emergency. The president quite wrongly evoked this clause, and it ultimately this proved the downfall of the Republic.
- Another fault was a complicated and difficult system of comparative voting and voting by list, planned to give minorities the just representation. This was a commendable goal, but other democracies used different methods to achieve it. Germany’s method had led practically to splitting up of parties; by 1930, there were almost 28 parties competing for election. This made it almost impracticable to institute a majority in the Reichstag and led to volatility and frequent alterations in the government. What made this worse was the small size of Germany’s middle class and only a few parties represented the middle-class parties to stabilize German politics. With two extremes: Communists on one side, and Nazis on the other, there was little room for support and coalition-building.
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