Weaknesses of the Weimar Constitution
- AQA, Edexcel, OCR
Last updated 19 Jan 2019
The Weimar Constitution had several weaknesses that would eventually contribute to problems faced by the leaders of the Weimar Republic.
Proportional representation can be argued as a significant weakness of the Constitution. It resulted in the formation of coalition governments often comprising many parties. This meant that there were often differing ideas about how Germany should be governed. When parties disagreed it often meant that the government collapsed, and they needed to have fresh elections.
Another weakness was the increasingly frequent use of the emergency powers, established in the Constitution under Article 48. This enabled the President to rule by decree rather than consulting the Reichstag - the Chancellor would present laws to the President who would simply issue them. This power was often used in a time of crisis when swift and decisive government was needed. However, in practice, it was also used when the Reichstag couldn’t agree.
Linked to the idea of emergency rule was revolts and rebellions. There were many rebellions and revolts against the government, including some supported by the political parties represented in the Reichstag such as the National Socialists. In a time of crisis, the Government used the armed forces and independent militias such as the Freikorps to suppress rebellion, which caused bad feeling to spread among those opposed to the Republic.