To what Extent was Germany a parliamentary democracy in the years 1900-14?
In 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 old and corrupt voting system for Prussia which saw votes unfairly 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. Germany was a parliamentary democracy due to the many contrasting features of the political system. Germany may have had many features where a “parliamentary democracy” can be boasted, but there are also just as many contrasting points which expose the system as being corrupt and broken. One of the most significant points in favour of Germany being a parliamentary democracy is the fact that it practiced universal suffrage. Following the unification of Germany in January 1871, Bismarck introduced universal male suffrage for elections to the Imperial Parliament called the Reichstag, which were conducted through the use of a secret ballot. This is an example of Germany acting as a parliamentary democracy because it allowed people of all classes to vote, meaning that everyone in society had the opportunity to be able to be represented. The use of the secret ballot also helps to enhance the argument that Germany was a parliamentary democracy due to the fact that it allowed the electorate to cast their vote without fear of being persecuted for their choice. This system of voting, coupled with the fact that all males over 25 had the right to vote, emphasis the perceived idea of freedom and choice which the German people were offered at this time, Germany stood out...
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