The Weimar constitution

The Weimar Republic was set up as a representative democracy which tried to give genuine power to all German adults. However, it had major flaws that contributed to its downfall in 1933-34.

Strengths and weaknesses of the new Weimar constitution

The Republic was meant to be a representative democracy that looked after the interests of all Germans. But there was a problem – many Germans did not like the idea of democracy, and the constitution contained two major flaws.

A list of the strengths and weaknesses of the Weimar constiution

Strengths

A genuine democracy - Elections for parliament and president took place every four years and all Germans over 20 could vote.

The power of theReichstag - The Reichstag appointed the government and made all laws. This was very different from its powers before the war under the Kaiser.

A Bill of Rights - This guaranteed every German citizen freedom of speech and religion, and equality under the law.

Weaknesses

Proportional representation - Each party got the same percentage of seats in parliament as the percentage of votes it received in an election. This meant there were lots of small parties in Parliament making it difficult to pass laws and led to weak and often short-lived governments.

Article 48 - This gave the president the power to act without parliament’s approval in an emergency. However, it did not clearly define what an 'emergency' was, so the power was overused, which weakened Germans’ confidence in democracy.