The Weimar Constitution | tutor2u History
Study notes

The Weimar Constitution

  • Levels: GCSE
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, OCR

The National Assembly wanted to create a highly democratic system of government and so it borrowed elements from countries such as the United States.

The Constitution set out different parts of the new government and how they were to interact with each other. At the top of the Republic was the President - in charge of the country and elected directly by the people every seven years. However, the President did not really have any political power other than choosing who should be the Chancellor.

The Chancellor was the head of government and did much of the day to day politics of governing. The Chancellor was a similar position to the UK Prime Minister. To carry out policies, the Chancellor needed the support of the Reichstag. The Chancellor also chaired the Cabinet made up of senior ministers.

A key part of the Constitution was the Reichstag. Reichstag has two meanings in German politics. One meaning is for the German Parliament building and is used to describe the Parliament as whole. The other meaning of the term Reichstag is the lower house of the Parliament which represented the people and was elected directly by them. The Reichstag was by far the most powerful part of the Weimar Government, since if the Chancellor did not have its support then the government would fall.

In addition to the Reichstag, there was the Reichsrat, which was also elected and represented the German states. It had less power than the Reichstag, but it would also get a say on the laws that the Reichstag passed.

Underpinning all of the Constitution was the electorate. The voting age was reduced from 25 to 21 and women were able to vote as well as men - a major step forward for women’s and suffrage rights. Elections used a system called proportional representation which was designed to be fair and to properly represent the wishes of the German people


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