Authority and Upheaval in Leipzig, 1910-1920: The Story of a Relationship

By Sean Dobson | Go to book overview

chapter 3
POLITICS IN PREWAR LEIPZIG

CONTINUING THE INVESTIGATION as to whether or to what extent workers and nonworkers formed collective identities, in this chapter I examine the political dimension of their relationship. Two main questions guide the inquiry: Did the social antagonism between the two groups, uncovered in the previous chapter, spark political conflict? If so, did the social fissility characterizing Leipzig's group of nonworkers handicap it vis-à-vis its socially more cohesive opponent? I begin by describing the constitutional parameters of prewar politics in Leipzig before turning to the city's various actors and their interaction.


CONSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS

In Reich matters, the emperor overshadowed all other offices and institutions, answering to nobody in the formulation of foreign policy and command of the armed forces. In domestic politics, his was the right to appoint and dismiss the chancellor and all other federal officials; to summon, prorogue, and close the Reichstag; and to initiate legislation and interpret the constitution. The Federal Council (Bundesrat) presented a further firewall to democracy. Composed of delegates from the twenty princely Länder and three Hanseatic cities, its major tasks lay in inspecting legislation proposed by the crown before it reached the parliament and deciding on measures of constitutional alteration. Its conservatism derived from the fact that not only were its delegates chosen by Germany's princes and trading patriciates but

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