Short-lived Parliamentarisation in 19th-century Germany: Parliamentary Government in the Frankfurt Assembly of 1848/1849

Faculty/Professorship: Empirical Political Science  
Author(s): Sieberer, Ulrich  ; Herrmann, Michael
Title of the Journal: Parliamentary affairs : a journal of representative politics
ISSN: 0031-2290
Publisher Information: London : Oxford Univ. Press
Year of publication: 2019
Issue: Published: 09 April 2019
Pages: Online-Ressource
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1093/pa/gsz013
The article shows that Germany established a short-lived but fully operative parliamentary system of government in its first democratically elected national parliament in 1848—some 70 years earlier than usually assumed. Qualitative evidence shows that the cabinet was responsible to the assembly and that parliamentary majorities forced cabinets to resign. Roll-call analysis reveals behavioural patterns that are typical for parliamentary government such as high party unity, cohesive voting by the governing coalition and substantially higher success rates for cabinet parties. These findings challenge claims of a ‘German exceptionalism’ and demonstrate the danger of hindsight bias in reading historical processes of parliamentarisation backwards. Instead, they suggest that successful parliamentarisation critically depends on the balance of power between democratic and autocratic forces and the degree to which old elites can be integrated in the new democratic order.
Keywords: Democratisation, Informal Institutions, Legislative Coalitions, Legislative Success, Mixed-Methods
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
Year of publication: 1. July 2019