Going through a few made up questions from my history teacher concerning German history during the "Quest for Political Stability" period and saw this little number come up and could really do with some insight.

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    Is there something missing here? What "little number"? The only numbers are in your question headline. – Marakai May 18 '16 at 0:53
  • I think "this little number" means the question itself was on a list of questions from his history teacher. – user13123 May 18 '16 at 4:30
  • I don't see how either 20th-century or contemporary-history (the tags at the moment) fit this question... Unless I'm having an aneurysm, isn't late 1800's the 19th Century? – CGCampbell May 18 '16 at 14:28

The question implicitly hides a misconception, namely the opinion that to succeed and establish policies, one needs a lot of "support", majorities in opinion polls, majorities in the Parliament, friendship of the media, and similar things. That's not how Otto von Bismarck did things.

He used to have some connections to the old feudal order but was gradually losing their support. He was generally disliked by the public. He had to deal with hostility with Denmark, Austria, and France. He had no army backing him, no political party, and he controlled no seats in the Parliament.

But he has defeated all these powers – the old order, public, working class, France, Italy, Denmark, and others – and prevailed. He was truly the first big skillful politician in the modern sense, one who knows how to switch between alliances and betray previous allies, and that's why he was also able to found the bureaucratic government of the modern type (which didn't depend on any previously recognized "power" or "class") – with all the aspects such as the welfare state and healthcare (that's how he bought a sufficient fraction of the working class and suppressed the influence of social democracy etc.) and many other things.

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    The strength of the Reichstag was undoubtedly in its reach of representation - far greater than in Britain, even after the latter's Reform Act of 1832. Its catastrophic weakness was in the paucity of power which it held. In Britain a less-than-perfectly-representative Parliament wielded sovereign power from 1689 onwards. Bismarck inherited the tradition of the Enlightened Despot, an "...ism" which passed Britain by. And that explains a lot of the difference between us today. – WS2 May 18 '16 at 15:22

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