Reichstag (German Empire)
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The Reichstag (German for Diet of the Realm or Imperial Diet) was, from 1871 to 1918, the Parliament of the German Empire. Legislation was shared between both the Reichstag and the Bundesrat, which was the Imperial Council of the reigning princes of the German States.
The Reichstag had no formal right to install or dismiss the government. However, by contemporary standards it was considered a highly modern and progressive parliament. All male Germans over 25 years of age were eligible to vote and Members of parliament were elected by general, universal and secret suffrage. Deputies were chosen in one member constituencies by majority vote. In the case a candidate did not receive a majority vote, a runoff election took place. In 1871, the Reichstag consisted of 382 MPs. Starting in 1874 it had 397 members.
The term of office was initially set at three years, and was expanded to five years in 1888. The Reichstag opened each year by the Emperor. In order to dissolve parliament, the approval of the Imperial Council and the emperor were required. Members of parliament enjoyed legal immunity and indemnity.
The Reichstag first convened in the Preußischer Landtag (English: Prussian Parliament) building in Berlin. For a time it then met in a former porcelain manufactory at Leipziger Straße 4. This 23-year "temporary" location was the scene of passionate political debates that are associated with names like Bebel, Liebknecht, and Bismarck. The premises were generally considered too small, so in 1871 a decision was made to construct a new building. In 1872 an architectural contest with 103 participating architects was held. However, work did not start due problems with purchasing property and disagreements between Emperor Wilhelm I, Otto von Bismarck, and members of the Reichstag about how the construction should be performed.
Ten years later in 1882, another architectural contest was held with 200 architects participating. This time the winner of the contest, the Frankfurt architect Paul Wallot, would actually see his plan executed. On 29 June 1884, the foundation stone was finally laid by Wilhelm I. The new building was acclaimed for its cupola of steel and glass, an engineering masterpiece of the time. Before construction was completed, Wilhelm I died in 1888, the Year of Three Emperors. His successor, Wilhelm II, objected to the very concept of parliament as an institution to a much greater extent. The new building opened in 1894. The famous inscription - DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE - (to the German People), a 1916 addition by Peter Behrens, still towers above the monumental entrance.
Presidents of the Reichstag
|Präsidenten des Deutschen Reichstages (1871–1918)|
|No.||Name||In Office||End of Term|
|2||Maximilian Franz August von Forckenbeck||1874||1879|
|3||Otto Theodor von Seydewitz||1879||1880|
|4||Adolf Graf von Arnim-Boitzenburg||1880||1881|
|5||Gustav Konrad Heinrich von Goßler||1881||1881|
|6||Albert Erdmann Karl Gerhard von Levetzow||1881||1884|
|7||Wilhelm von Wedell-Piesdorf||1884||1888|
|8||Albert Erdmann Karl Gerhard von Levetzow||1888||1895|
|9||Rudolf Freiherr von Buol-Berenberg||1895||1898|
|10||Franz von Ballestrem||1898||1907|
|11||Udo Graf zu Stolberg-Wernigerode||1907||1910|
|12||Hans Graf von Schwerin-Löwitz||1910||1912|
Notable Members of the Imperial Reichstag
- Ludwig Bamberger (NLP, Deutsche Freisinnige Partei)
- Theodor Barth (NLP, Deutsche Freisinnige Partei)
- August Bebel (SPD)
- Rudolf von Bennigsen (NLP)
- Eduard Bernstein (SPD)
- Albert Hänel (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei, Deutsche Freisinnige Partei)
- Wilhelm Hasenclever (ADAV, SAP, Vorgängerparteien der SPD)
- Wojciech Korfanty (National-Democratic Party (Poland))
- Karl Liebknecht (SPD)
- Wilhelm Liebknecht (SAP, danach SPD)
- Ludwig Löwe (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei, Deutsche Freisinnige Partei)
- Hermann von Mallinckrodt (Zentrum)
- Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke (Konservative Partei)
- Theodor Mommsen (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei, NLP)
- Friedrich von Payer (DtVP)
- August Reichensperger (Zentrum)
- Peter Reichensperger (Zentrum)
- Eugen Richter (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei, Deutsche Freisinnige Partei, FVp)
- Burghard von Schorlemer-Alst (Zentrum)
- Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei, Deutsche Freisinnige Partei)
- Rudolf Virchow (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei, Deutsche Freisinnige Partei, FVp)
- Heinrich von Treitschke (NLP)
- Ludwig Windthorst (Zentrum)
- Moonis Raza. Geographical Dictionary Of The World In The Early 20th Century With Pronouncing Gazetteer (in 2 Vos.). New Delhi, India: Concept Publishing Company, 1990. Pp. 712.
- Deutscher Bundestag: Kaiserreich (1871 - 1918) (German)
- www.reichstag.de "The Reichstag Building". In English. Retrieved 26-February-2012
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