Weaknesses of the Weimar Republic

At the end of World War One, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and fled to Holland. The new government which replaced him first met in Weimar as there were security risks in Berlin. Hence, it became known as the Weimar Republic.

The video below describes the establishment of the Weimar Republic.

Positive aspects of the Weimar Government

  • All men and women over the age of 20 were able to vote
  • German citizens elected the President and the Reichstag (Parliament)
  • the Reichstag made the laws and appointed the government

Negative aspects of the Weimar Government

Parliament was elected through a system of proportional representation. This resulted in the election of many small parties. It was difficult for one party to gain a majority so the country was run by a series of coalitions (governments led by different parties working together). The result was:

  • unstable governments
  • a lack of decisive action
  • a public suspicious of deals between parties

The German people had no tradition of parliamentary democracy – there was no general support for the new republic.

The ruling Social Democrats were linked to Versailles and nicknamed the 'November criminals' (the armistice to end the war which was signed in November 1918). As such, they were not trusted by the general public.

Article 48 of the Constitution was also problematic. It was stated that in an emergency, the President could take control of Germany and issue laws and decrees. This would potentially allow for a dictatorship to develop.