Great Coalition

   a parliamentary majority comprised of the SPD, the Center Party*, the DDP, and the DVP. The first effort to form such a union was made in June 1920 by DVP faction leader Rudolf Heinze*; the SPD refused to join, due to the ambivalence of some DVP deputies toward the Kapp* Putsch. Joseph Wirth s* November 1922 attempt to prolong his government via a Great Coalition miscarried when the DVP s Hugo Stinnes* attacked the eight-hour day and called for overtime work without overtime pay; the SPD refused to join, and Wirth was forced to resign. Faced with foreign and domestic crises, Gustav Stresemann* installed the first Great Coalition on 13 August 1923, re-organized it on 6 October (the first cabinet collapsed on 2 October), and retained office until 30 November. Although the broad political base ensured passage of an Enabling Act,* Stresemann s short-lived regime revealed the precarious na-ture of a multiparty coalition forced to counterbalance the SPD on the Left and the DVP on the Right.
   The second and last Great Coalition was formed in May 1928 by Hermann Müller.* Enduring until March 1930, it marked the high point of the Republic's fortunes; it also underscored the despair and anxiety of weakened middle-class parties (the DDP and the DVP) prepared to work with the SPD more out of desperation than conviction. Christened the "cabinet of personalities" (Kabinett der Kopfe), it included Müller (SPD), Stresemann (DVP), Erich Koch-Weser* (DDP) at Justice, and Theodor von Guerard* (Center) at Transportation. Strese-mann s death and the depression* undermined the alliance.
   Beginning with Konstantin Fehrenbach s* 1920 cabinet, an implicit Great Coalition supported several governments. As the DDP, the Center, and the DVP could not ignore SPD and trade-union* aspirations, the latter often supported minority cabinets that met their conditions. This quirk, in which the strongest party refused to enter cabinets it otherwise supported, is often deemed among the Republic s more ruinous features.
   REFERENCES:Breitman, German Socialism; Eyck, History of the Weimar Republic, vol. 2; Larry Jones, German Liberalism; Maier, Recasting Bourgeois Europe.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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