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 strengths of the Republic served to ensure that it was a representative democracy and on paper it looked marvellous. However, hidden in the detail were two flaws that eventually helped to destroy the Republic:

A list of the strengths and weaknesses of the Weimar constiution
StrengthsWeaknesses
A genuine democracyElections for parliament and the president took place every four years and all Germans over 20 could voteProportional representationEach 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
The power of the Reichstag (Parliament)The Reichstag appointed the government and made all laws. This was a considerable strengthening from its powers before the war under the Kaiser (Emperor)Article 48This 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
A Bill of RightsThis guaranteed every German citizen freedom of speech and religion, and equality under the law