The Political Establishment Succeeded in Maintaining the Political Status Quo Through a Policy .Docx Uploaded Successfully

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‘The political establishment succeeded in maintaining the political status quo through a policy of moderate reform’ How far do you agree with this judgement? The political establishment in Germany succeeded in maintaining the political status quo through more than just the policy of moderate reform, I would argue. Certainly the policy of moderate reform helped placate and divide socialists and liberals, the groups demanding social and constitutional change, to an extent. However, it is clear that the inflexible constitution itself that kept the ultimate power always in the Kaiser’s hands succeeded in maintaining the political status quo to a much further extent. The nationalism and patriotism upholding the Kaiser’s constitutional powers were very significant, as the vast majority of the German population and the breadth of the political nation valued the Kaiser, so he did not face any serious challenges in this period. This nationalism and patriotism was particularly felt by the traditional elites, who the constitution favoured, and pressed for nationalist foreign policy to unite against threats to the status quo, which did soak up a lot of the tensions of the period. It should also be noted despite this attempt to present a united front against threats to the status quo, parties looking after sectional interests meant that a disunity of the parties in the Reichstag did little for the cause of significant political modernisation, unable to work together to make any coherent challenges. The policy of moderate reform satiated socialist demand for social reform and kept the liberals divided, thus muting the demand for constitutional reform. The Old Age and Invalidity Law amendments and extensions of 1899 and 1900, amendment of the Sickness Insurance Law of 1903 and subsequent Imperial Insurance Code of 1911 that amended and extended all workers’ insurance provisions, and the 1908 law to reduce hours of factory work show that piecemeal social reform was being given to the socialists through this period. This was important to the political establishment in maintaining the political status quo, however, though moderate, it shows the increasing influence of socialism. The threat of their increasing influence, though, was overestimated by the political establishment in a misconception that the socialist movement was wholly revolutionary, when in fact many members were more revisionist and reformist; it was only the far left of the part who still believed in revolution from 1900 onwards. This misconception implies that, with the socialist threat being smaller than perceived by the political establishment, it was the already existing structures of the Kaiserreich in place that maintained the political status quo best. Indeed, the Tariff Law of 1902, which put higher duties on imported grain and thus raised food prices, merely galvanised more workers, who opposed the new tariffs, to vote for the SPD (Social Democrats) which can be seen in the sharp rise of votes in the 1903 general election (56 seats in 1898 to 81 seats in 1903). The Tariff Law proves that moderate reform was never intended to be a mechanism to keep the status quo. On the other hand, the Tariff Law did placate protectionist liberals and displease Liberal Progressives, dividing the liberals and lessening their influence on constitutional reform. Constitutional reform was therefore very limited in this period, with Bethmann-Hollweg’s failed attempt to reform the blatantly warped Prussian voting system, the ‘3 class franchise’ in 1910 that couldn’t stand up to strong conservative opposition, and the constitution given to the war-spoil Alsace-Lorraine in 1911 being utterly undermined by the Zabern Affair of 1913, where the intended integration resulted in clashes between the army and locals, that the army repressed and a new governor who opposed the 1911 constitution was put in place. As is clear, the policy of moderate reform did help maintain the political status quo,...
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