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Martin Ejnar Hansen and Marc Debus, "The behaviour of political parties and MPs in the parliaments of the Weimar Republic," Party Politics, 18 (September 2012), 709-726. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
There has been great interest in the Weimar Republic among scholars in economics (e.g. Myerson, 2004; van Riel and Schram, 1993), history (e.g. Jones, 1972, 2009; Scho¨nhoven, 2002) and political science (e.g. Berg-Schlosser, 1995; Berman, 1997; Lehmann, 2009; Lieberman, 1998; Loewenberg, 1971). Studies have covered a wide range of topics, ranging from the elections, the political culture and the rise of national socialism to the various reasons behind the demise of the Republic. One part that is less studied, however, is the Reichstag - the parliament of the Weimar Republic. Specifically, how the elected representatives voted and how the voting patterns can help identify shifts in policies and intra-party conflict.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Major parties represented in parliament and government during the Weimar republic
Table 2. Data overview
Table 3. Content of roll-call votes
Figure 1. Positions of parliamentary parties in the first Weimar Reichstag (1920-1924) on one dimension
Figure 2. Positions of MPs in the Weimar Reichstag, 1920-1924
Figure 3. Positions of MPs in the Weimar Reichstag, 1924-1928
Figure 4. Positions of MPs in the Weimar Reichstag, 1928-1930
Figure 5. Positions of MPs in the Weimar Reichstag, 1930-1932

Last Paragraph:
A sustainable democracy requires compromise when there is no majority party. If compromise is absent, breakdown threatens. This is what happened in the case of the Weimar Republic, where the presence of the second dimension of pro-/anti-Republic sentiment made compromise impossible. However, the Weimar Republic was not unique is this instance. Recently, Aleman and Saiegh (2010) presented an analysis of the rise and fall of democracy in Argentina in the period between 1916 and 30. They conclude that for the first part of the period the legislature was two-dimensional, with a government- opposition dimension as the first and a policy dimension, of varying content, as the second. However, in the second part of the period they analyse, Argentinian politics could be reduced to a pro-/anti-system dimension.9 Contrasting this with the case of the Weimar Republic, the interesting part is that the re-alignment, which took place in the Argentinian case, did not happen in Weimar Germany. While democracy seems to have been accepted in Argentina, as shown by Aleman and Saiegh (2010), this was not the case for the Weimar Republic. The second dimension was thus present at the birth of the Republic and was alive and strong also at the end of the Republic. Despite the fact that the period of the Weimar Republic lies more than 80 years back there are still lessons to be learned for newly established democracies. If actors are repeatedly present who do not accept democracy and who are unwilling to compromise, then democracy will not be sustainable.

Last updated August 2012