How democratic was Imperial Germany? How much power did the Reichstag actually have? How did the Imperial German government compare to other contemporary democracies?
The Reichstag was the Parliament of the German Empire from 1871- 1918. It had less force than government, but still was very powerful. The legislature was bicameral; the two houses were the Reichstag and Bundesrat. After the Parliament of United Kingdom, the Reichstag was one of the most progressive parliaments in Europe.
Members of the Reichstag were elected by general,universal and secret ballot. All men over 25 years were allowed to vote. The Reichstag didn't have official rights to assign or disband government, and Parliament was opened once each year by the emperor. The Reichstag had rights to co-decide about the empire's budget. In order to dissolve Parliament, the decision had to be confirmed by the Bundesrat and the emperor. Then the new Parliament had to be chosen within a 60-day period, which indicates the high level of democracy in Imperial Germany.
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Just to stick to the comparison of Germany and Britain: The German empire and the British empire were both constitutional monarchies, with elected parliaments, legal opposition parties, relatively free press, etc. The German emperor probably intervened more in the running of the state than the British monarch. On the other hand, Britain had much more extensive colonies than Germany with the result that a very much larger portion of the subjects of the British empire were disenfranchised than was the case wth Germany.
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