Who knows, tonight, we may lose the battle!

16 12 2015

How about some numbers?

I’m a theorist, yes, but when it comes to elections, you gotta talk numbers.

So how about some numbers for Reichstag elections 1919-1932?

  • January 1919 (percentage of seats; bold are Weimar Coalition 1919-20; after 1920, parties in minority)
    • Social Democrats (SPD) 39%
    • [Catholic] Center (Z) 22%
    • German Workers Party (DDP) 18%
    • Nationalists (DNVP) 10%
    • Independent Social Democrats (USPD) 5%
    • German People’s Party (DVP) 4%
    • Others 2%
  • June 6, 1920
    • SPD 22%
    • USPD 18%
    • DNVP 15%
    • DVP 14%
    • Z 14%
    • DDP 8%
    • Bavarian People’s Party (BVP) 5%
    • Communists (KPD) 1%
    • Others 2%
  • November 30, 1923 (seats)
    • DDP +DVP + Z 168
    • SPD 103
    • USPD 83
    • DNVP 71
    • BVP 21
    • KPD 4
    • Others 10
  • May 4, 1924 (percentage)
    • SPD 21%
    • DNVP 20%
    • Z 14%
    • KPD 13%
    • DVP 10%
    • German People’s Freedom  Party (DFVP) + Nazis (NSDAP) 7%
    • DDP 6%
    • BVP 3%
    • Others 6%
  • December 7, 1924
    • SPD 27%
    • DNVP 21%
    • Z 14%
    • DVP 10%
    • KPD 9%
    • DDP 6%
    • BVP 4%
    • NSDAP 3%
    • Others 6%
  • May 20, 1928
    • SPD 31%
    • DNVP 15%
    • Z 13%
    • KPD 11%
    • DVP 9%
    • DDP 5%
    • BVP 3%
    • NSDAP 2%
    • Others 10%
  • September 14, 1930
    • SPD 25%
    • NSDAP 19%
    • KPD 13%
    • Z 12%
    • DNVP 7%
    • German State Party (DStP, former DDP) 3%
    • BVP 3%
    • Others 12%
  • July 31, 1932
    • NSDAP 38%
    • SPD 22%
    • KPD 15%
    • Z 12%
    • DNVP 6%
    • BVP 4%
    • DVP 1%
    • DStP 1%
    • Others 2%
  • November 6, 1932
    • NSDAP 34%
    • SDP  21%
    • KPD 17%
    • Z 12%
    • DNVP 9%
    • BVP 3%
    • DVP 2%
    • DStP 0% (tho’ still held 2 seats)
    • Others 2%

The November 1932 were the last free parliamentary elections; after Hitler became chancellor in 1933, the fix was in, so while elections were held that year, they were in no way free. Even then, however, the Nazis couldn’t manage a majority: they received only 43.9% of the vote in the March 5 elections.

A coupla’ things to note about these numbers (helpfully provided by Fuad Aleskerov, Manfred J. Holler, and Rita Kamalova in their paper, Power Distribution in the Weimar Reichstag 1919-1933; note that they go on to analyze those electoral results and various governing coalitions):

  1. These are parliamentary election results, which may or may not have been reflected in who was chosen as chancellor—and there were alotttttta chancellors in this period.
  2. As noted in a previous post (as well as in bold, above), the Weimar coalition didn’t rule past 1920.
  3. A number of parties in parliament were, in fact, anti-parliamentarian: the rightist Nationalists (DNVP) most notably early on, and the Communist KPD and fascist NSDAP later.
  4. The two Catholic parties kind of straddled the republican line: The Center party (Z) was decidedly anti-left, but also valued their ability to participate fully in government; they moved to the right by the end of the 1920s. The Bavarian People’s party (BVP) was more conservative (and, obviously, found its power base in Bavaria) throughout this period.
  5. Finally, and rather importantly, look at those figures for NSDAP: After the failed beer-hall putsch in 1923, Hitler vowed he would take power via ‘legal’ means. Yet in elections from 1924-28, they were a marginal force in politics—the Nationalists were the main representative of the right in parliament. It was only after the onset of the Depression did the Nazis’ electoral fortunes improve.

That last bit is rather important: absent economic crisis, it is not clear that the republic would have fallen, nor that the Nazis would rise to destroy it all.

It’s an incredibly complex matter, complexities which I’ve barely touched on here nor in previous (and likely, future) posts, and which I’m still sorting out myself, but whatever other elements contributed to the end of Weimar, it’s nonsense to conclude that the republic fell of its own accord.

~~~

In addition to the Aleskerov, Holler, and Kamalova piece, I also relied upon Richard Evans’s The Coming of the Third Reich and Detlev Peukert’s The Weimar Republic for various electoral and party information.

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3 responses

17 12 2015
dmf

right heading for economic collapse is the truly worrying echo in US politics

11 10 2016
When Johnny comes marching home again | AbsurdBeats

[…] former colleague Ludendorff, running as a Nazi) and beat Hitler for the job in 1932. When the Nazis won the most votes in the last free parliamentary elections in November of ’32, thereby paving the path to the […]

9 02 2017
There are some who are in darkness | AbsurdBeats

[…] and the German Democratic Party did serve in multiple governments between 1919 and 1932, but after 1920 elections, they never held the majority in the Reichstag. Further, after Social Democratic Friedrich […]

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