The Weimar Constitution | tutor2u History
Study notes

The Weimar Constitution

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

When setting out to create the Weimar Republic, the National assembly wanted to create a system which was one of the most democratic in the world. Elements of the Constitution were borrowed from other countries such as the United States.

The Constitution sets out different parts of the government and how the interact with each other. At the top of the Republic was the President. They were in charge of the country and were elected directly by the people every seven years. However, they 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. In order to carry out their policies, they must have the support of the Reichstag. The Chancellor also chairs the Cabinet. The cabinet is made up of the senior ministers who assist the Chancellor in making decisions.

One of the key parts 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 the Parliament as whole. The other meaning of the term Reichstag is the lower house of the Parliament. It represented the people was elected directly by them. It was by far the most powerful part of the Weimar Government, as if the Chancellor did not have the support of the Reichstag 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.

Underpinning all of the Weimar Constitution was the electorate. Anyone over the age of 21 was allowed to vote. This was a major step forward for women’s and suffrage rights. Voters used proportional representation which was designed to be fair and to properly represent the wishes of the German people.

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