- Sep 13, 2008
The Election of 1887
During the 1860s the German Empire had been created under the leadership of the Kingdom of Prussia – every state of the old German Confederation with the exception of Austria joining into the new state. Following the collapse of the Habsburg Empire in the 1880s, Austria had been brought into the Empire in 1887 – effectively completing the process of German unification. With 15,500,000 new subjects, the newly expanded German Empire prepared to go to the polls for the first time since the union with Austria in the late summer of 1887.
In this election 90 of 601 seats are to be elected by ethnic minorities. Votes in this election shall only count towards the election of 511 Riechstag seats, I will announce the results from the minority seats at the election’s close – these seats will be divided amongst ‘allies’ of the German based parties with each party having a degree of representation.
Political Position: Centre
Ideology: Christian Democracy / Political Catholicism
Party Leader: Ludwig Windthorst
Twice Chancellor of Germany, the remarkably small Ludwig Windthorst was arguably the most prominent politician in Germany – challenged only by the other man to serve twice as Chancellor since unification, Otto von Bismarck. In 1883 he had led the Centre to an unexpected and spectacular absolute majority and successfully fulfilled his two key promises – the repeal of the Anti-Socialist Laws, and unification with Austria – only increasing his popularity and respect.
The success of the Centre in amassing an incredible 53.5% of the vote was unlikely to ever be repeated. Realising this the DZP had tirelessly struggled to ensure that German unification was completed and has succeeded. Yet now the party was under threat from both left and right. On the left the advance of the SPD into the Centre’s working class constituency was obvious – in the seething proletarian suburbs of Berlin the Socialists had all but run the Centre out of town whilst in 1883 the party had secured the overwhelming majority of the vote. Meanwhile, the separation of the Progressive Liberals from the LVD (in which the National Liberal line always enjoyed greater prominence) threatened the party’s monopoly over the vote of German democrats. Despite all the triumphs, 1887 was set to be the Centre’s greatest trial of strength for more than a decade.
Regarding the Unification:
The Centre’s policies regarding unification have already been publically outlined. The Austrian provinces are to enjoy a strong degree of autonomy within the German Empire. The former Habsburg Emperor is to become the King of Austria, and Bohemia – abandoning all claims to supremacy over the German Emperor. A total of 15% of the newly expanded Reichstag are to be set aside for minority communities (90) with a division of 50 for the Czechs, 22 for the Poles, 9 for the French, 5 for the Italians and one each for the Slovenes, Croats, Lithuanians and Danes.
Our present course in foreign affairs in which close relations with Russia and Britain are maintained shall remain the central theme of German foreign policy – this protecting the Empire from its greatest potential foes. With peace having existed between Germany and France for many years, and the Empire’s growth in power making the disparity between our two nations even greater it may now be possible for a genuine rapprochement with France to occur. The collapse of our alliance with Italy is unfortunate but inevitable, the best that Germany can do is to attempt to sooth relations, although it is unlikely that our two peoples shall ever enter into an alliance again – not so long as Italy claims Pola, South Tyrol and Dalmatia. It would be in German interests, both in Africa and in Europe, to seek a much closer relationship with the Spanish. Friendly relations will shield our colonies in East Africa and Gabon from threat whilst also providing Germany with a friend in the Mediterranean – potentially replacing Italy in that region. Finally, a strong opposition to the Ottoman Empire must be maintained along with calls for the liberation of the Christian peoples of the Balkans.
Our present economic course, a middle road between the extremes of a totally unrestricted economy and a protectionist-interventionist one is clearly the best road for Germany. We shall continue to support free trade; meanwhile the worst performing industries may have their subsidies removed – but only in regions in which those in these industries might have access to work in new or strongly performing industries. State support for entrepreneurial investment in new industries may be of great benefit in this regard. The Centre Party also supports low military spending and a progressive tax regime in which the most able contribute the largest share. The party does, however, hope to keep taxes as low as possible at all times so long as large deficits are avoided. The Centre also supports a strong level of state investment in the underdeveloped parts of Austria in order to stimulate the economies of these regions and bring them closer to the standard level across the rest of the Empire.
The Centre shall stand strongly in favour of the autonomy of all constituent states of the German Empire and the democratic rights of all her peoples without exception. At present the existing German constitution protects these rights, it must be defended.
The Party does however support a continued programme of social reform – seeking a further shortening of the working day and an improvement in healthcare through the state support for the expansion of hospitals operated by the various Churches of Germany.
The DZP calls for a 12 hour working day and acceptable healthcare.
Political Position: Hard Right
Party Leader: Otto von Bismarck
Bismarck’s political fortunes over the past two and a half decades have oscillated strongly as he has repeatedly been flung between poles of political power by the highly unstable electoral results of the Conservative (and right wing Liberal) parties that have supported him. The only Chancellor of the North German Federation, later Chancellor of Germany from 1869-1873 and 1878-1883 in the moments when he has been out of power he has only occasionally been regarded as the most significant opposition. With this being perhaps his last chance of regaining power, the Iron Chancellor readies himself for one last electoral battle.
German Conservatism’s troubled history since unification continued unabated. The party’s unpopular stand against unification with Austria cost them support in 1883, now the DKRP must deal with that most feared of realities in 1887. The Conservatives lost half their vote in the last election – now the party is desperate to fight back and enhance its power in the Reichstag so it might have a voice on the final settlement over the Austrian annexation.
Regarding the Unification:
The unification with Austria is a most unfortunate and unwanted turn of events. But it is now too late to prevent it. The DKRP supports Francis Joseph’s relinquishing of the title of Emperor and accepting of the new title of King of Austria. However, the DKRP calls for the Kingdom of Bohemia to be separated from Austria – granted to a scion of the House of Habsburg – and admitted into the Empire separately. Moreover, Austria shall be admitted into the Empire on the same terms as Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden or she shall not be admitted at all – there is to be no special treatment of the Viennese! These measures should go some way to weakening inevitable future Austrian efforts to seek to challenge Prussia power in Germany, and separate the Southern states from the North.
The DKRP also supports the ejection of the poorest Southern provinces from the Emipre – Dalmatia and South-East Pola (a corridor to the port of Trieste shall remain German) are to be granted independence as the Duchy of Dalmatians (Croatia) under the control of a North German Prince.
The seats granted to minority populations are to be reduced from 90 to 60 (10% of the Reichstag) so as to prevent the overbearing influence of non-Germans on the affairs of the Empire.
A fine mess the Centre has made with its fanatical devotion to ‘Greater Germany’! Our once unbreakable friendship with Italy is no more, the Russians have been alienated by our apparent desires to rule over all Central Europe and the Balkans – the Tsar is not foolish enough to believe the trade of influence in Galicia is at all equal to the conquest of Austria. The British have now grown concerned by our drive to power whilst the French and Spanish look prepared to line up behind any power that dare challenge us. Unless Germany makes clear that she is now, finally, satisfied with her expansion the Russians may well join the Anti-German camp – presenting a genuine threat to the Empire that would at best result in the deaths of many hundreds of thousands, at worst the destruction of Germany.
The DKRP supports the continued subsidisation of German industry, but also calls for the reintroduction of a 5% tariff in order to further shield our industry from the emergence of cheaper supplies of the same goods emanating from Italy, Japan and even Spain. It will not be long until these economies begin to challenge German goods in our own markets, and through their lower labour costs threatening a terrible collapse in industry. The DKRP also supports the raising of the military budget and the large scale expansion of the military in line with Germany’s new position.
With the annexation of Austria Germany faces a new threat from within. The threat of an Austrian supported drift of the Southern states (which have always enjoyed a special position within the Empire) away from the centre. This must be avoided at all costs. German Conservatives therefore support the centralisation of powers in Berlin at the expense of the outlying states. Austria’s admittance into the Empire makes this unwelcome process entirely necessary for stability.
The DKRP also supports the reinstating of the Anti-Socialist Laws. It is clear that so long as the Socialists are allowed to act freely they shall inevitably expand their cancerous influence and threaten the very existence of the German nation. They must be stopped!
Political Position: Right
Ideology: National Liberalism
Party Leader: Rudolf von Bennigsen
Bennigsen had been one of the earliest leaders of the National Liberals – in 1869 he had led the internal coup that ousted Forchenbeck and led the NLP into a coalition with the Conservatives and Bismarck (serving as Prime Minister of Prussia form 1869-1873). Continuing to lead the National Liberals until the unification into the Liberal Union of Germany in 1878 he was forced to serve under his old political rival Forchenbeck in opposition as the LVD achieved disappointing election results throughout its existence. With the LVD splitting back into its old constituent parts in 1883 Bennigsen, controlling the larger part of the old LVD, has attempted to restore the National Liberals to their old prominence.
Since the reconstitution of the party in 1883 the National Liberals, like their Progress cousins, have been in an awkward position of limbo as the future of German Liberalism – once such a powerful political force – remains unclear. Nonetheless the NLP has attempted to rally itself and strike out once more as a major force in German politics.
Regarding the Unification:
The National Liberal Party regards unification with Austria as undesirable and must be achieved only under a much improved agreement. The Habsburg monarchy must be condemned to the dustbin of history – such an ancient enemy of German unity cannot simply be forgiven. Did Francis Joseph not go to war with Germany in 1881? Did he not support France and oppose German unity throughout the 1860s? Did this same man not come to power on the ashes of the dreams of German, Italian and Hungarian national unity in 1848? Germany cannot simply accept this old enemy into his house. Especially one who, even if he surrenders the Imperial diadem, shall always make claims to superiority over the Kaiser. Instead the Habsburgs must be removed from power and new monarchs for the Kingdoms of Bohemia and Austria chosen by the Kaiser in negotiation with his fellow Kings and Dukes within Empire. Bohemia and Austria shall then be admitted separately on the same terms as the Southern German states.
The National Liberal Party also supports the reduction of the number of seats set aside for minorities from an outrageous 90 to 60. Finally the Party supports the creation of an independent Croatian Duchy in Dalmatia and South-East Pola, therefore ejected the most undeveloped parts of Austria from the Empire but retaining access to the Adriatic.
The Centre Party’s lax attitude to Germany’s international position is quite extraordinary. In East Africa and in China they have allowed Germany to be humiliated, this must be corrected. Germany must agitate for conflict with Italy over Somalia, Italian claims to our new lands make an eventual war inevitable, Germany should strike before the Italians are able to form an alliance with Anti-German forces across Europe (the French and Spanish would almost certainly back an Italian invasion!)
In China Germany should look to become the protector of the great Southern region of Guagnxi. Germany should deploy troops to ensure the territory is brought under German protection from the revolutionaries who rule to the North, territorial concessions in the South may also potentially be sought. Beyond the humanitarian concerns in the region, Guagnxi also presents Germany with an opportunity for expansion into Asia, and control over a market of many millions – this Chinese project simply must be sought!
The NLP supports the return of Germany to laissez faire economics. The economic mismanagement of Centre and Conservative governments has left Germany in a dire position. Her industrial base continues to age rapidly and still relies on industries that are not well suited to her highly skilled and educated workforce. Only through a period of laissez faire ingenuity shall the German economy exorcize those failing industries from its economy and replace them with new and modern industries.
With the annexation of Austria Catholicism is Germany continues to grow beyond all control. It is important that the German state supports those forces in the Catholic Church that fight for a national and German Church – independent of Papal influence, never more so since the Italians have turned against the Empire. The National Liberal Party supports a strident campaign of Germanisation of ethnic minorities – in particular the Poles of the Eastern fringe of the Empire.
But more importantly than anything else, Germany should look to reinstate the Anti-Socialist Laws! It is not too late to renew the fight against the menace of Socialism in Germany, the rising influence of these malevolent forces since repeal of the Laws five years ago is testament to their potent threat to German society. Let the Laws return and Germany be made safe again.
Political Position: Centre-Right
Ideology: Progressive Liberalism
Party Leader: Eugen Richter
Richter was a long term delegate to the Reichstag, aside from his frequent position of prominence within the DFP and Progressive wing of the LVD Richter established a national significance by being the most important Liberal figure calling for a vote of abstention when Windthorst looked to repeal the Anti-Socialist Laws in 1883. In all probability without Richter’s campaign the Laws would have remained in place.
The newly revived German Progress Party had come a long way since it left coalition with the Centre in 1877 and wedded itself to the National Liberals. With the Progressive wing of the LVD frequently dominated by the National Liberal wing the party bore little resemblance to the DFP of old. The separation of the Progressive and National Liberals in 1883 gave the new DFP a chance to return to extent to return to its radicalism of old and the Liberalism of 1848 it claimed to uphold.
Regarding the Unification:
This is a happy day, a truly joyous one! For the first time in German history, all the German peoples of Europe stand as one and vote for their future. However, the DFP does have some concerns over the settlement agreed by the Centre over Austria. Firstly, the Habsburg Emperor simply cannot be allowed to return to power. This is a man who has openly and frequently opposed German unification and the onward march of democracy across both Germany and Central Europe for decades. Francis Joseph has only agreed to the conditions of the Centre as his own people have rejected his rule – we would be restoring an overthrown tyrant! The Habsburgs must be cast out once and for all – Bohemia and Austria shall be admitted to the German Empire as Free States with elected Presidents. The DFP supports the Centre’s proposals for a fair representation of minority communities – the 90 seats set aside for these communities largely corresponding to population.
In Europe Germany should seek to strength the ties between Britain and the Empire as much as possible. If an alliance can be secured, then all the better. Our new found power makes us a terrifying for to the other powers of the continent – only through an alliance with our fellow democracy in Britain can German power remain secure.
German Progressive Liberals are saddened by the Centre’s defeats in East Africa, but they cannot be reversed without a move towards war. Somalia is certainly not worth that!
However, in the Far East events in China are very concerning and most definitely of interest to Germany. The DFP supports the securing of the Southern Chinese state of Guangxi against the revolutionaries in Central and Northern China. An expeditionary force must therefore be deployed to the Far East; the party also supports territorial acquisitions in the region in order to ensure the security of our presence in South China.
The DFP supports the return of Germany to laissez faire economics. The economic mismanagement of Centre and Conservative governments has left Germany in a dire position. Her industrial base continues to age rapidly and still relies on industries that are not well suited to her highly skilled and educated workforce. Only through a period of laissez faire ingenuity shall the German economy exorcize those failing industries from its economy and replace them with new and modern industries.
The Progress Party aims to achieve greater democracy throughout German society. The Party therefore supports the institution of universal suffrage at all levels of German democracy as a mandate of the Reichstag. Throughout much of the country weight or exclusive forms of voting are still in place and must be eliminated. The DFP also calls for the weakening of the power of the aristocracy in the German political system and the acceptance of the supremacy of the Reichstag above all other institutions – including the Kaiser.
Political Position: Far Left
Party Leader: August Bebel
Bebel led the SPD throughout its ‘heroic period’ and remained in office in the Reichstag (his position shielding him from the worst repression) for most of that time. Having only just managed to hold the violent revolutionist branch of the Party at bay the Marxist centre, under his leadership, remains in control. Enjoying a booming prestige, like the party as a whole, Bebel is hopeful that the SPD can finally make a breakthrough and establish itself as the dominant party of the German working class.
Such was the strength of the SPD in 1873 that even under the harsh conditions of the Anti-Socialist Laws the party was able to claim 10% of the vote. By 1883 it had declined to ¼ of that number and had relinquished its dominant role amongst the working class to the Centre Party. However, the DZP’s victory in that year facilitated the repeal of the Anti-Socialist Laws and subsequent revival of the SPD. Many Socialists are ecstatically predicting that the party will win well over 100 seats and establish itself as one of the strong parties in the country.
Regarding the Unification:
The unification with Austria is something to be celebrated, however it is also an opportunity to advance democracy in Austria that the Centre Party has found itself incapable of grasping. The Revolution in Austria earlier this year demands not only unification, but democracy. The Centre has promised them the former but denied them the latter. Francis Joseph shall not be restored to his throne, even one with reduced prestige. Instead the SPD supports the creation of Free States in Austria, Bohemia, Slovenia-Pola all with democratically elected Presidents and all integral parts of the Empire. Whilst the Centre’s plans for the representation of minorities are admirable, they still over represent the German, and even the Czech community at the expense of others. The SPD supports a totally proportional representation for each ethnic group meaning that 495 seats shall be elected by the German population, 43 by the Czechs, 28 by the Poles, 8 by the French, 6 by the Italians and 21 by the smaller ethnic groups.
The SPD supports the independence of South-East Pola and Dalmatia under a Croatian Republic.
The SPD pursues a policy of pacifism in foreign affairs but shall not abide by any infringement of German sovereignty. Germany shall pursue no further colonial acquisitions, she shall seek to act as a mediator in international conflicts so that a Great War might be avoided, but most importantly of all she shall attempt to ensure that Germany is not sucked into any major wars so that the lives of her citizens and those of other nations might be spared.
Following the end of the period of repression the SPD updated its manifesto with the adoption of a more explicitly Marxist programme at Erfurt in 1884:
‘’The collapse of the capitalist system is increasingly imminent. It is only a matter of time before the economic slowdown witnessed in the United Kingdom and America spreads to Germany, and only a matter of time before this crisis intensifies and leads to economic and social collapse. This cannot be allowed. Instead the SPD proposed the socialisation of all means of production in Germany. This shall be pursued by legalistic and democratic means – not through the use of violence or coups.
In the shorter term the SPD shall pursue the improvement in the conditions of the working class and poor. A Heavily progressive tax regime shall be support than ensures the flow of wealth towards the poorest sections of society; the state shall protect existing industries from collapse and provide investment for the construction of new – more modern industry. The Party also calls for heavy investment in the underdeveloped regions of Austria that have recently been annexed and a focus across the country in supporting a more even distribution of wealth amongst regions as well as classes.’’
In line with its new programme the SPD continued to call for democratic change:
‘’The SPD supports the further democratisation of the German political system. We call for universal suffrage at all levels of government – from the local Landtags of the individual states (where weighted suffrage is presently the norm) upwards. The Party also calls for all remaining restrictions on Trade Unions to be completely and totally removed – leaving labour free to organise as it wishes.
The SPD supports the 8 hour day, improvements in the system of healthcare through state controlled hospitals and improved pensions for retiring workers.
The SPD back the 8 hour day, acceptable health care and good pensions.’’
All reader must either vote for:
! You may write the full name, shortened name or the German name of any party, so long as it is clear to me who you are voting for!
Please place your vote in a separate post or bold it within your post so it is easier for me to keep a tally.
Once again, spamming is not tolerated, you may not campaign outside this thread and I ask that you remain civil with each other.
Voting will close on Monday at 10 AM, I will post in this thread to officially close the polls and return with the results shortly later.