Zasada demokracji w Konstytucji weimarskiej
The principle of democracy in Weimarian constitution
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Up to the end of the World War I, the foundation of German constitutionalism was the monarchical principle. For many 19th‑ century state and law theoreticians in Germany this principle was indeed synonymous to constitutionalism. Constitutionalism itself, in turn, was commonly identified with the contemporary monarchical system of German countries. On the other hand, the foundation of the constitution enacted in August 1919 in Weimar was the principle of democracy, which was set out in the Art. 1 of the constitution as the principle of the sovereignty of the nation. The principle of democracy took a specific form in the Weimarian constitution, combining direct democracy with representative democracy. The elements of the direct democracy were people’s initiative and referendum. The representative democracy, on the other hand, was realized by means of citizen rights with regard to the election of deputies to the Reichstag and the president of the German Reich. Due to the lack of appropriate democratic traditions and a complex social and political situation of the Weimar Republic, the democracy did not gain a foothold in Germany. Neither the mechanisms of direct democracy nor the ones of representative democracy passed muster with the voters. The referendum was held twice, however due to the low electoral turnout it was not valid. Also, the presidential election was conducted twice, and it was won by the opponent of parliamentary democracy, the marshal Paul von Hindenburg. In contrast, the results of parliamentary elections usually resulted in the political split of Reichstag. Yet, up to the beginning of 1930s new governments managed to be set up, which were supported by the parliamentary majority. In the final years of the Weimar Republic, however, such a possibility did not exist. A habit was formed of convening the so‑ called presidential cabinets. These were the governments convened by the President which took advantage of his support, and their activity was enabled by the President’s emergency powers specified by the Art.48, par. 2 of the constitution. It turned out that the actual demise of Weimarian democracy was the takeover of the government by Adolf Hitler in January 1933 as a consequence of the electoral success of his Nazi Party.
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