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Essay Plan To What Extent Did Power Lie With The Traditional Conservatives Elites In The Second Reich Notes

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Essay Plan ­ 'Power in the Second Reich lay with the traditional conservative elites.' How far do you agree with this opinion?
Traditional conservative elites: Traditional conservative elites ­ No exact definition, somewhat loose group of 'old money', consisting of Junkers, aristocrats, and landed interests, often Prussian too, as well as 'new money' and emerging
commercial + industrial class. Resistant to change + wanted to retain the status quo. SO, 'old' elites
prepared to ally with 'new' elites of industry + commerce, offering them a stake in the system to retain
the status quo, 'sammlungspolitik', the politics of concentration.

• Policy influence + pressure groups:

• Through influence of money + political + aristocratic connections, could have a large influence on

creating new policy, and blocking new policy, particularly through the use of pressure groups.

• EG Association of German industrialists v.powerful due to wealth. 1912 elections, funded 120
Conservative + Liberal candidates at a cost of 1M marks. Stacking politics in their favour

• EG Agrarian league led by Junkers + landed interests lobbied for protectionist tariffs. Led to 1902 Tariff Law which raised food prices + harmed most people, but benefitted rich Prussian
landowners.

• EG Navy league successfully lobbied for 'flottenpolitik' + naval expansion w/ Naval laws in 1898,
1900 (38 battleships over 20 yrs) + 1906. Benefitted industrialists who received huge orders +
profits from this. Stopped political reform:

• EG B­H tried to reform Prussian 3 tier voting system (which favoured wealthy voters hugely +

helped Conservatives) BUT dropped after traditional elites' hostility, showing ability to resist
change which wouldn't favour them

• Despite urbanisation (by 1910 60% of population lived in urban areas, highest rate in Europe),
elite influence meant constituency boundaries never changed, damaging SPD who EG won 75%
of vote in Berlin in 1914 but carried less weight than ought to, as boundaries not changed to
reflect much large urban populations

• EG SPD + Centre won most votes in 1907 elections but lost comprehensively on seats due to
unfair boundaries that were unchanged. Counter/other:

• Prussian civil service + elites within v.powerful. Due to large Prussian power + fact federal GVT

couldn't raise income tax (only states could), federal overly reliant on Prussia, further increasing
power.
Hans­Ulrich Wehler ­ Book, 'The German Empire', arguing from POV of structuralist school,
argues Kaiser had neither ability nor character to lead 2nd Reich + power vacuum existed.
Vacuum filled by elites, who informally exercised a huge amount of power. BUT, exaggerates unity of purpose within elites, who were a sprawling mixture of landed interests, aristocrats, civil servants + members of judiciary.
Fails to recognise declining influence of Junkers, Sammlungspolitik + Bulow Bloc didn't work as
SPD still became largest party in 1912. Political + social forces irresistible despite stacking odds
in their favour.

Kaiser:

• Constitutional power:

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