Weimar Coalition

   a parliamentary alliance comprising the SPD, the DDP, and the Center Party.* It originated in July 1917 when an interparty Reichstag* committee of the SPD, the Center, and the Progressive Party (pre-cursor to the DDP) was created to draft a peace resolution and constitutional reforms. The coalition became a governing alliance when Philipp Scheidemann* formed the Republic's first cabinet in February 1919. Representing three-fourths of the National Assembly,* Scheidemann's cabinet united on the following is-sues: international disarmament; compulsory arbitration of disputes; educational opportunities for all Germans; creation of a democratic army; freedom of speech and the press; and freedom of religion and the arts. The partners struggled over socialization.
   At the national (Reich) level, the coalition's viability deteriorated in the wake of the Versailles Treaty* and the Kapp* Putsch. Preserved under Gustav Bauer* and Hermann Müller,* the coalition lost its majority in the Reichstag elections of June 1920. Thereafter a key element of stability was missing because cabinet creation was complicated by the need either to embrace parties whose opinion of the Republic was ambivalent or to form minority cabinets. After June 1920 only four of Weimar's cabinets (two under Joseph Wirth* and the two Great Coalition* cabinets) included representatives from each of the coalition partners.
   Politics in the state of Prussia* stood in stark and meaningful contrast to those at the Reich level. A Weimar Coalition (or a Great Coalition) governed Prussia under an SPD Prime Minister (Otto Braun* from 1920) from March 1919 until July 1932 (with brief interruptions in 1921 and 1925). Prussia's experience illustrated that consistent and clearly defined policies could lead to parliamentary success—and success at the polls. It also proved that coalition stability had less to do with a party's platform, which invariably changed, than with the prag-matism of individual ministers. Gustav Stolper* remarked in 1929 that what "we have today is a coalition of ministers, not a coalition of parties" (Kolb). In fact, from 1920 the coalition parties either feared cabinet responsibility (the SPD) or grew increasingly unreliable in their attitude toward the Republic (both the Center and the DDP).
   REFERENCES:Frye, Liberal Democrats; Halperin, Germany Tried Democracy; Larry Jones, German Liberalism; Kolb, Weimar Republic.

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

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