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How Successful Was Bismarck As Chancellor Of A United Germany?

2629 words - 11 pages

How successful was Bismarck as Chancellor of a united Germany?
The question of how successful Bismarck was as Chancellor between 1870 and 1890 is a question that has several different levels that each need to be analysed in order to get a well rounded and accurate answer. I will call upon Bismarck’s domestic and foreign policies, using them to illustrate the leaders triumphs and failures in his Chancellorship. I will also use Bismarck’s political ability, decision making and methods to further my understanding of his success in the German political sphere. Furthermore I believe that it is important to get an understanding of his political accomplishments and perhaps downfalls if the ...view middle of the document...

Consequently one can suggest that this asserts the Prussian statesman as succeeding as unified Germany’s chancellor because it resulted in Germany becoming a major player in global affairs and helped balance the power that kept Europe at peace up until the First World War. Therefore the actual unification of Germany doesn’t have any bearing on Bismarck’s success as chancellor both in terms of chronology and achievements, but what resulted from the entire process through his chancellorship can be said to show Bismarck’s success in the art of diplomacy and country development. Myself, like some other historians see the German development (1871-1890) as illustrating how good a chancellor Bismarck truly was. He took a segregated country full of internal disputes and slowly but surely developed it until it was one of the world’s leading nations. Thus his success as chancellor can be seen to directly correlate with Germanys overall success in terms of its transition from a fractured state system to a united nation.
Because of the nature of the German constitution, Bismarck could practically rule the country unchallenged by other politicians and members of the Reichstag. He was unchallenged in his domestic policy, although the German electorate were led to believe that power was shared proportionally between the German ruling classes. However, his relationship with Wilhelm meant that Bismarck often had the political advantage over his peers because of his ability to convince Wilhelm that his policies served the most purpose for the German nation. Despite the nature of the German constitution, it would seem that Prussian dominance controlled the balance of an authoritarian system. Almost 1/3 of the Reichstag’s deputies were Prussian, resulting undoubtedly with Prussian interests being paramount.
As I have already established; Bismarck was the head on an authoritarian system, being only accountable to the Kaiser of Germany. This meant that Bismarck’s policies were virtually untouchable by the Reichstag which, at this time had very little influence over important political decisions. However, because of the way in which the German constitution was structured and presented, the Reichstag were able to influence decisions on the amendments to the military budget as this decision was said to be in the hands of the imperial assembly. Regardless of this constitutional reality, Bismarck was able to have dominance over the issue because of the Reichstag’s fear of another constitutional conflict like the one in 1862. Accordingly, between the years of 1874 and 1881, the military budget, the one factor that if the constitution was followed properly should have been at the hands of the Reichstag, was still controlled by the iron chancellor. So regardless of Bismarck according to the constitution being a ‘’responsible officer’’[2], in reality the only person Bismarck was responsible to was himself.
Between 1871 and 1879, Bismarck aligned himself with the National...

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