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Reichstag

The Reichstag under the Weimar Constitution

The republican Weimar Constitution of 1919 did not alter the structure of the Reichstag, but it introduced proportional representation and extended voting rights to women. The new Reichstag, however, was not powerless; it was the supreme legislative body of the republic. The states were represented by an upper chamber, the Reichsrat. The jurisdictions of the Reichstag and Reichsrat were limited to matters affecting Germany as a whole; in other matters the member states were sovereign. The Reichsrat had only a power of suspensive veto over legislation approved by the Reichstag.

The federal cabinet, appointed by the president and headed by the chancellor, was responsible to the Reichstag and normally had to resign if it received a vote of no confidence. However, the president of the republic could, on the advice of his cabinet, dissolve the Reichstag and order new elections before the normal term (four years) had ended. After 1930, under President Paul von Hindenburg, the Reichstag was suspended several times at the instigation of successive chancellors, and rule by presidential emergency decree began to replace parliamentary rule.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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