[Footnote 368: Dupriez, Les Ministres, I., 350.]
[Footnote 369: Arts. 3-42. Robinson, Constitution of the Kingdom of Prussia, 27-34.]
[Footnote 370: Lowell, Governments and Parties, I., 286.]
The process of constitutional amendment in Prussia is easy. With the approval of the king, an amendment may at any time be adopted by a simple majority of the two legislative chambers, with the special requirement only that an amendment, unlike a statute, must be voted upon twice, with an interval of three weeks between the two votes. During the first ten years of its existence the constitution was amended no fewer than ten times. Of later amendments there have been six, but none more recent than that of May 27, 1888. The Prussian system of amendment by simple legislative process was incorporated, in 1867, in the fundamental law of the North German Confederation (except that in the Bundesrath a two-thirds vote was required); and in 1871 it was perpetuated in the constitution of the Empire.
[Footnote 371: There is an annotated English version of the Prussian constitution, edited by J. H. Robinson, in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Supplement, Sept., 1894. The original text will be found in F. Stoerk, Handbuch der deutschen Verfassungen (Leipzig, 1884), 44-63; also, with elaborate notes, in A. Arndt, Die Verfassungs-Urkunde fuer den preussischen Staat nebst Erganzungs-und Ausfuehrungs-Gesetzen, mit Einleitung, Kommentar und Sachregister (Berlin, 1889). The principal treatises on the Prussian constitutional system are H. Schulze, Das preussisches Staatsrecht, auf Grundlage des deutschen Staatsrechtes (Leipzig, 1872-1874); ibid., Das Staatsrecht des Koenigreichs Preussen, in Marquardsen's Handbuch (Freiburg, 1884); L. von Roenne, Das Staatsrecht der preussischen Monarchie (Leipzig, 1881-1884); and H. de Grais, Handbuch der Verfassung und Verwaltung in Preussen und dem deutschen Reiche (11th ed., Berlin, 1896). A good brief account is that in A. Lebon, Etudes sur l'Allemagne politique, Chap. 4.]
III. THE CROWN AND THE MINISTRY (p. 253)
*269. Status of the Crown.*—At the head of the state stands the king, in whom is vested the executive, and a considerable share in the legislative, power. The crown is hereditary in the male line of the house of Hohenzollern, following the principle of primogeniture. An heir to the throne is regarded as attaining his majority on the completion of his eighteenth year. It has been pointed out that the German Emperor, as such, has no civil list. He has no need of one, for the reason that in the capacity of king of Prussia he is entitled to one of the largest civil lists known to European governments. Since the increase provided for by law of February 20, 1889, the "Krondotations Rente," as it appears in the annual Prussian budget, aggregates 15,719,296 marks; besides which the king enjoys the revenues from a vast amount of private property, comprising castles, forests, and estates in various parts of the realm. There are also certain special funds the income from which is available for the needs of the royal family.
*270. Powers.*—The powers of the crown are very comprehensive. It is perhaps not too much to say that they exceed those exercised by any other European sovereign. The king is head of the army and of the church, and in him are vested, directly or indirectly, all functions of an executive and administrative character. All appointments to offices of state are made by him immediately or under his authority. The upper legislative chamber is recruited almost exclusively by royal nomination. And all measures, before they become law, require the king's assent; though, by reason of the sovereign's absolute control of the upper chamber, no measure of which he disapproves can ever be enacted by that body, so that there is never an occasion for the exercise of the formal veto. To employ the language of a celebrated German jurist, the king possesses "the whole and undivided power of the state in all its plenitude. It would, therefore, be contrary to the nature of the monarchical constitutional law of Germany to enumerate all individual powers of the king.... His sovereign right embraces, on the contrary, all branches of the government. Everything which is decided or carried out in the state takes place in the name of the king. He is the personified power of the state." (p. 254) Except in so far as the competence of the sovereign is expressly limited or regulated by the constitution, it is to be regarded as absolute.
[Footnote 372: They are enumerated in articles 45-52 of the constitution. Robinson, Constitution of the Kingdom of Prussia, 36-37.]
[Footnote 373: Schulze, Preussisches Staatsrecht, I., 158.]
*271. The Ministry: Composition and Status.*—The organization of the executive—the creation of ministerial portfolios, the appointment of ministers, and the delimitation of departmental functions—rests absolutely with the king, save, of course, for the necessity of procuring from the Landtag the requisite appropriations. Beginning in the days of Stein with five, the number of ministries was gradually increased until since 1878 there have been nine, as follows: Foreign Affairs; the Interior; Ecclesiastical, Educational, and Sanitary Affairs; Commerce and Industry; Finance; War; Justice; Public Works; and Agriculture, Public Domains, and Forests. Each ministry rests upon an essentially independent basis and there has been little attempt to reduce the group to the uniformity or symmetry of organization that characterizes the ministries of France, Italy, and other continental monarchies. Departmental heads, as well as subordinates, are appointed with reference solely to their administrative efficiency, not, as in parliamentary governments, in consideration of their politics or of their status in the existing political situation. They need not be, and usually are not, members of either of the legislative chambers.
[Footnote 374: The Minister of Foreign Affairs is at the same time the Minister-President of Prussia and the Chancellor of the Empire. On the functions of the various ministries see Dupriez, Les Ministres, I., 448-462.]
For it is essential to observe that in Prussia ministers are responsible only to the sovereign, which means that the parliamentary system, in the proper sense, does not exist. The constitution, it is true, prescribes that every act of the king shall be countersigned by a minister, who thereby assumes responsibility for it. But there is no machinery whereby this nominal responsibility can be made, in practice, to mean anything. Ministers do not retire by reason of an adverse vote in the Landtag; and, although upon vote of either legislative chamber, they may be prosecuted for treason, bribery, or violation of the constitution, no penalties are prescribed in the event of conviction, so that the provision is of no practical effect. Every minister possesses the right to appear on the (p. 255) floor of either chamber, and to be heard at any time when no member of the house is actually speaking. In the exercise of this privilege the minister is the immediate spokesman of the crown, a fact which is apt to be apparent from the tenor of his utterances.
[Footnote 375: Art. 44.]
[Footnote 376: Art. 61. Robinson, Constitution of the Kingdom of Prussia, 40. In the words of a German jurist, "the anomaly continues to exist in Prussia of ministerial responsibility solemnly enunciated in the constitution, the character of the responsibility, the accuser and the court specified, and at the same time a complete lack of any legal means by which the representatives of the people can protect even the constitution itself against the most flagrant violations and the most dangerous attacks." Schulze, Preussisches Staatsrecht, II., 694.]
*272. The Ministry: Organization and Workings.*—The Prussian ministry exhibits little solidarity. There is a "president of the council of ministers," who is invariably the Minister for Foreign Affairs and at the same time the Chancellor of the Empire, but his functions are by no means those of the corresponding dignitary in France and Italy. Over his colleagues he possesses, as president, no substantial authority whatsoever. In the lack of responsibility to the Landtag, there is no occasion for an attempt to hold the ministry solidly together in the support of a single, consistent programme. The ministers are severally controlled by, and responsible to, the crown, and the views or policies of one need not at all be those of another. At the same time, of course, in the interest of efficiency it is desirable that there shall be a certain amount of unity and of concerted action. To attain this there was established by Count Hardenberg a Staats-Ministerium, or Ministry of State, which occupies in the Prussian executive system a position somewhat similar to that occupied in the French by the Council of Ministers. The Ministry of State is composed of the nine ministerial heads, together with the Imperial secretaries of state for the Interior, Foreign Affairs, and the Navy. It holds meetings at least as frequently as once a week for the discussion of matters of common administrative interest, the drafting of laws or of constitutional amendments, the supervision of local administration, and, in emergencies, the promulgation of ordinances which have the force of law until the ensuing session of the Landtag. There are certain acts, as the proclaiming of a state of siege, which may be performed only with the sanction of this body. The fact remains, none the less, that, normally, the work of the several departments is carried on independently and that the ministry exhibits less cohesion than any other in a state of Prussia's size and importance. It is to be observed that there is likewise a Staatsrath, or Council of State (dating originally from 1604 and revived in (p. 256) 1817), composed of princes, high officials of state, ministers, judges, and other persons of influence designated by the crown. It may be consulted on legislative proposals, disputes as to the spheres of the various ministries, and other important matters. In barrenness of function, however, as in structure, it bears a close resemblance to-day to the British Privy Council.
[Footnote 377: The office of Chancellor was discontinued with the death of Hardenberg and that of Minister-President substituted. The Chancellor possessed substantial authority over his colleagues. Since 1871, the Minister-President has been a Chancellor, but of the Empire, not of Prussia.]
[Footnote 378: The Staats-Ministerium was called into being, to replace the old Council of State, by an ordinance of October 27, 1810. Its functions were further elaborated in cabinet orders of June 3, 1814, and November 3, 1817. The constitution of 1850 preserved it and assigned it some new duties.]
[Footnote 379: On the organization and functions of the Prussian ministry see Dupriez, Les Ministres, I., 345-462; von Seydel, Preussisches Staatsrecht, 91-104; von Roenne, Das Staatsrecht der preussischen Monarchie, 4th ed., III.; Schulze, Das preussische Staatsrecht, II.]
*273. Subsidiary Executive Bodies.*—Two other executive organs possess considerable importance. These are the Oberrechnungskammer, or Supreme Chamber of Accounts, and the Volkswirthschaftsrath, or Economic Council. The Oberrechnungskammer has existed continuously since 1714. Its function is the oversight and revision of the finances of the departments, the administration of the state debt, and the acquisition and disposal of state property. Its president is appointed by the crown, on nomination of the Staats-Ministerium. Its remaining members are designated by the crown on nomination of its own president, countersigned by the president of the Staats-Ministerium. All enjoy the tenure and the immunities of judges, and the body collectively is responsible, not to the Ministry of State, but to the crown immediately. In status and function it resembles somewhat closely the French Cour des Comptes. The same group of men, with additional members appointed by the Bundesrath, serves as the Chamber of Accounts of the Empire. The Volkswirthschaftsrath consists of seventy-five members named by the king for a term of five years. Its business is to give preliminary consideration to measures vitally affecting large economic interests, to determine what should be Prussia's position in the Bundesrath upon these measures, and to recommend to the crown definite courses of action regarding them. Its function is purely consultative.
CHAPTER XIII (p. 257)
THE PRUSSIAN LANDTAG—LOCAL GOVERNMENT
I. COMPOSITION OF THE LANDTAG
*274. The House of Lords: Law of 1853.*—Legislative authority in the kingdom of Prussia is shared by the king with a national assembly, the Landtag, composed of two chambers, of which the upper is known as the Herrenhaus, or House of Lords, and the lower as the Abgeordnetenhaus, or House of Representatives. Under the original provisions of the constitution, the House of Lords was composed of (1) adult princes of the royal family; (2) heads of Prussian houses deriving directly from the earlier Empire; (3) heads of families designated by royal ordinance, with regard to rights of primogeniture and lineal descent; (4) 90 members chosen by the principal taxpayers of the kingdom; and (5) 30 members elected by the municipal councils of the larger towns. By law of May 7, 1853, this arrangement was set aside and in its stead it was enacted that the chamber should be made up entirely of persons appointed by the crown in heredity or for life; and, on the authorization of this measure, there was promulgated, October 12, 1854, a royal ordinance by which the composition of the body was fixed substantially as it is to-day. The act of 1853 forbids that the system thus brought into operation be further modified, save with the assent of the Landtag; but this does not alter the fact that the present composition of the Prussian upper house is determined, not by the constitution of the kingdom, but by royal ordinance authorized by legislative enactment.
*275. The House of Lords To-day.*—The component elements of the House of Lords to-day are: (1) princes of the royal family who are of age; (2) scions of the Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, and sixteen other once sovereign families of Prussia; (3) heads of the territorial nobility created by the king, and numbering some fifty members; (4) a number of life peers, chosen by the king from among wealthy landowners, great manufacturers, and men of renown; (5) eight titled noblemen appointed by the king on the nomination of the resident landowners of the eight older provinces of the kingdom; (6) representatives of the universities, of religious bodies, and of towns of over 50,000 inhabitants, presented by these various organizations respectively, but appointed ultimately by the king; and (7) an (p. 258) indefinite number of members, chosen by the king for life on any ground whatsoever, and under no restriction except that peers must have attained the age of thirty years.
The composition of the chamber is thus extremely complex. There are members ex-officio, members by royal appointment, members by hereditary right. But the appointing power of the crown is so comprehensive that the body partakes largely of the character of a royal creation. Its membership is recruited almost exclusively from the rigidly conservative landowning aristocracy, so that in attitude and policy it is apt to be in no degree representative of the mass of the nation, at least of the industrial classes. As a rule, though not invariably, it is ready to support cordially the measures of the crown. In any event, through exercise of the unrestricted power of creating peers, the crown is in a position at all times to control its acts. The number of members varies, but is ordinarily about 300.
[Footnote 380: Lebon, Etudes sur l'Allemagne politique, 187-197.]
*276. The House of Representatives.*—The Abgeordnetenhaus, or House of Representatives, consists of 443 members—362 for the old kingdom, 80 added in 1867 to represent the newly acquired provinces, and one added in 1876 to represent Lauenburg. Representatives are elected for a five-year term, and every Prussian is eligible who has completed his thirtieth year, who has paid taxes to the state during as much as three years, and whose civil rights have not been impaired by judicial sentence. Every Prussian who has attained his twenty-fifth year, and who is qualified to vote in the municipal elections of his place of domicile, is entitled to participate in the choice of a deputy. At first glance the Prussian franchise appears distinctly liberal. It is so, however, only in the sense that comparatively few adult males are excluded from the exercise of it. In its actual workings it is one of the most undemocratic in Europe.
*277. The Electoral System.*—Representatives are chosen in electoral districts, each of which returns from one to three members—as a rule, two. There has been no general redistribution of seats since 1860 (although some changes were made in 1906), so that in many districts, especially in the urban centers whose growth has fallen largely within the past fifty years, the quota of representatives is grossly disproportioned to population. Until 1906 the entire city of Berlin returned but nine members, and its quota now is only twelve. The enfranchised inhabitants of the district do not, moreover, vote (p. 259) for a representative directly. The essential characteristics of the Prussian electoral system are, first, that the suffrage is indirect, and, second, that it is unequal. The precise method by which a representative is elected may be indicated as follows: (1) each circle, or district, is divided into a number of Urwahlbezirke, or sub-districts; (2) in each Urwahlbezirk one Wahlman, or elector, is allotted to every 250 inhabitants; (3) for the choosing of these Wahlmaenner the voters of the sub-district are divided into three classes, arranged in such a fashion that the first class will be composed of the payers of direct taxes, beginning with the largest contributors, who collectively pay one-third of the tax-quota of the sub-district, the second class will include the payers next in importance who as a group pay the second third, and the last class will comprise the remainder; (4) each of these classes chooses, by absolute majority, one-third of the electors to which the Urwahlbezirk is entitled; finally (5) all the electors thus chosen in the various Urwahlbezirke of the district come together as an electoral college and choose, by absolute majority, a representative to sit in the Abgeordnetenhaus at Berlin.
[Footnote 381: Prior to 1906 the Berlin representatives were chosen in four electoral districts, but in the year mentioned the city was divided into twelve single-member constituencies.]
[Footnote 382: As stipulated in articles 69-75 of the constitution. Robinson, The Constitution of the Kingdom of Prussia, 42-44.]
[Footnote 383: In the event that, between elections, a seat falls vacant, a new member is chosen forthwith by this same body of Wahlmaenner without a fresh appeal to the original electorate of the district.]
*278. Origins and Operation of the System.*—The principal features of this unique system were devised as a compromise between a thoroughgoing democracy based on universal suffrage and a government exclusively by the landholding aristocracy. The three-class arrangement originated in the Rhine Province where, by the local government code of 1845, it was put in operation in the elections of the municipalities. In the constitution of 1850 it was adopted for use in the national elections, and in subsequent years it was extended to municipal elections in virtually all parts of the kingdom, so that it came to be a characteristic and well-nigh universal Prussian institution. It need hardly be pointed out that the scheme throws the bulk of political power, whether in municipality or in nation, into the hands of the men of wealth. In not fewer than 2,214 Urwahlbezirke a third of the direct taxes is paid by a single individual, who therefore comprises alone the first electoral class; and in 1703 precincts the first class consists of but two persons. In most cases the number of the least considerable taxpayers who in the aggregate pay the last third of the tax-quota is relatively large. Taking the kingdom as a whole, it was estimated in 1907 that approximately (p. 260) three per cent of the electorate belonged to the first class, about 9.5 per cent to the second, and the remaining 87.5 to the third. In the individual precinct, as in the nation at large, the little group at the top, however, possesses precisely as much political weight as the large group at the bottom, because it is entitled to choose an equal number of Wahlmaenner. The result is a segregation of classes which, whatever its merits at certain points, is of very questionable utility as a basis of government.
The effect politically is to give an enormous advantage to the conservative and agrarian interests and to deprive the socialists and other popular elements all but completely of representation. At the elections of 1903 the Social Democrats put forth effort for the first time in an organized way to win seats in the Landtag. Under the system which has been described a total of 324,157 Conservative votes sufficed to elect 143 representatives, but 314,149 Social Democratic votes did not secure the return of a single member. In the Imperial elections of the same year, conducted under a scheme of equal suffrage, the popular party sent to the Reichstag eighty members. At the Prussian elections of 1908 a Social Democratic vote which comprised approximately twenty-four per cent of the total popular vote yielded but seven members in a total of 443. So glaringly undemocratic is the prevailing system that even that arch-aristocrat, Bismarck, was upon one occasion moved to denounce the three-class arrangement as "the most miserable and absurd election law that has ever been formulated in any country."
[Footnote 384: For a brief exposition of the practical effects of the system, especially on political parties, see Lowell, Governments and Parties, I., 305-308. The system as it operates in the cities is described in Munro, The Government of European Cities, 128-135, and in R. C. Brooks, The Three-Class System in Prussian Cities, in Municipal Affairs, II., 396ff. Among special treatises may be mentioned H. Nezard, L'Evolution du suffrage universel en Prusse et dans l'Empire allemand (Paris, 1905); I. Jastrow, Das Dreiklassensystem (Berlin, 1894); R. von Gneist, Die nationale Rechtsidee von den Staenden und das preussische Dreiklassensystem (Berlin, 1904); and G. Evert, Die Dreiklassenwahl in den preussischen Stadt-und Landgemeinden (Berlin, 1901).]
II. THE MOVEMENT FOR ELECTORAL REFORM
*279. The Programme Formulated.*—Throughout more than a generation there has been in Prussia persistent agitation in behalf of electoral reform. In 1883, and again in 1886, the lower chamber debated, but rejected, a project for the substitution of the secret ballot for the existing viva voce method of voting. In 1883 the Social Democratic party proclaimed its purpose to abstain from voting until the (p. 261) inequalities arising from "the most wretched of all electoral systems" should have been removed. Gradually there was worked out a programme of reform to which socialists, Liberals, and progressives of various schools gave adherence, wholly or in part, comprising four principal demands: (1) the abolition of discriminations against the small taxpayer; (2) the introduction of the secret ballot; (3) the replacing of indirect by direct elections; and (4) a redistribution of seats. And these are to-day the objects chiefly sought by the reform elements.
*280. The Efforts of 1906 and 1908.*—In 1906 a bill raising the number of representatives from 433 to 443 and making provision for a slight redistribution of seats was carried, but a Radical amendment providing for direct and universal suffrage and the secret ballot was opposed with vigor by the Government and failed of adoption. In January, 1908, there were notable socialist demonstrations throughout the country in behalf of the establishment of equal manhood suffrage. Prince von Buelow, while admitting the existing system to be defective, opposed the introduction in Prussia of the electoral system of the Empire, alleging that it would not be compatible with the interests of the state and maintaining that every sound reform of the franchise must retain and secure the preponderance of the great mass of the middle class, and therefore must aim at the establishment of an equitable gradation in the weight of the various classes of votes. It was added that the Government would consider whether this object might best be attained by basing the franchise entirely upon the amount of taxes paid by the voter, or by taking into account age, educational attainments, or other qualifications. When the Radicals introduced in the lower chamber a resolution declaring for equal manhood suffrage the Clericals and the Poles supported it, but the Conservatives and National Liberals of all shades stood by the Government, and the resolution was overwhelmingly rejected. The elections of June, 1908, at which, as has been pointed out, seven Social Democratic members were returned, demonstrated that even under existing electoral arrangements dissatisfaction could find some expression. The National Liberals and the Free Conservatives, who had been outspoken in opposition to the extension of the suffrage, lost, respectively, twelve and four seats. When, however, the Radical resolution reappeared it again was thrown out.
*281. The Project of 1910.*—By popular demonstrations in Berlin and in other important towns throughout the kingdom, the Government was brought to the conviction that it was not expedient to maintain too long its hitherto inflexible attitude. In a speech from the (p. 262) throne, January 11, 1910, the sovereign announced the early introduction of a measure for electoral reform, and a month later it became the unwelcome duty of the new Chancellor, von Bethman-Hollweg, to lay the Government's project before the chambers. Instantly it was evident, not only that the proposal had been prepared entirely under bureaucratic direction, but that the real purpose of the Government was to carry through the Landtag an electoral bill designed to appease the reformers without yielding the essential features of the existing system. The project provided, in brief: (1) that the tripartite system be retained, though the quota of taxes admitting to the first class should be reduced to a uniform level of five thousand marks (no weight being given to payment beyond that amount), and voters of specified degrees of education, or occupying certain official positions, or having served a stipulated number of years in the army or navy, should be assigned to the higher classes, with but incidental regard to their tax contributions: (2) that viva voce voting be retained; (3) that the choice of electors be by districts rather than by Urwahlbezirke; and (4) that direct voting be substituted for indirect. There was no mention of redistribution, and the secret ballot was specifically withheld. The rearrangement of classes did not touch the fundamental difficulty, and the only demand of the reformers which was really met was that for direct elections. In his speech in defense of the measure the Chancellor frankly admitted that the Government was irrevocably opposed to a suffrage system based on democratic principles.
The scheme was ridiculed by the liberal elements. In protest against the nonchalance with which the door had been shut in their faces the working classes in Berlin and elsewhere entered upon a fresh series of demonstrations by reason of which the Government was embarrassed through several weeks. In the Landtag the Conservative and Free Conservative parties, comprising the Government majority, stood solidly for the bill, in the conviction that if there must be change at all those changes which the bill proposed would be less objectionable than those which were being urged by the radicals. The Centre wavered, while the National Liberals, the Poles, the Social Democrats, and the Progressive People's Party stood firmly in opposition. February 13 the bill was referred in the lower house to a committee, by which it was reported so amended as to provide for the secret ballot but not for direct elections. March 16, by a vote of 283 to 168, the measure in this amended form, was passed by the chamber, all parties except the Conservatives and the Centre voting against it. April 29 the bill was passed in the upper chamber, by a vote of 140 to 94, in the form in which originally it had been introduced. All (p. 263) efforts on the part of the Government to bring the lower house to an acceptance of the original measure proved fruitless, and the upshot was that, May 27 following, the project was withdrawn from the chambers. The overhauling of the antiquated electoral system in Prussia, both national and municipal, remains a live issue, but agreement upon a definite project of reform is apparently remote. The problem is enormously complicated by the virile traditions of aristocratic, landed privilege which permeate the inmost parts of the Prussian political system. In respect to redistribution, too, a fundamental obstacle lies in the consideration that such a step on the part of Prussia would almost of necessity involve a similar one on the part of the Empire. In both instances the insuperable objection, from the point of view of the Government, arises from the vast acquisition of political power which would accrue from such reform to the socialists and other radical parties.
[Footnote 385: P. Matter, La reforme electorale en Prusse, in Annales des Sciences Politiques, Sept., 1910; C. Brocard, La reforme electorale en Prusse et les partis, in Revue Politique et Parlementaire, Feb., 1912.]
III. ORGANIZATION AND FUNCTIONS OF THE LANDTAG
*282. Sessions and Privileges of Members.*—The maximum life of a Landtag is five years; but the lower house may at any time be dissolved by the crown. A dissolution must be followed by the election of a new chamber within sixty days, and the ensuing session is required to begin within three months. The power of dissolution is not infrequently exercised, and there have been instances of the dissolution of a newly elected chamber, by reason of its objectionable political character, before it had been convened for so much as a single sitting. According to law the Landtag must be convoked in regular session every year, during the period between the beginning of November and the middle of the following January. It may be called in extraordinary session at any time. Without its own consent, it may not be adjourned for more than thirty days, or more than once during a session. Save in the event of the necessity of making provision for a regency, the chambers sit separately; but the two must be convoked, opened, adjourned, and prorogued simultaneously.
[Footnote 386: Art. 76.]
Each chamber passes upon the qualifications of its members; each elects it own presidents, vice-presidents, and secretaries; and each regulates its own discipline and order of business. Sittings of both chambers are public, save when, on proposal of the president or of ten members, it is decided to close the doors. Members are regarded (p. 264) as representatives of the population of the kingdom as a whole. They may not be bound by any sort of instructions; nor may they be called to account legally for votes cast, or for statements made, in the fulfillment of their legislative functions. Unless taken in the act, or within twenty-four hours thereafter, no member of either house may, without the consent of that house, be arrested or submitted to examination for any penal offense. Members of the lower house receive, and must accept, travelling expenses and a daily allowance of fifteen marks during sessions.
At the beginning of each sitting the House of Lords is divided into five Abtheilungen, or sections, and the House of Representatives into seven. In the lower house the division is made by lot; in the upper, by the president. In both instances it is made once for an entire session, not monthly as in France, or bi-monthly as in Italy. The function of the Abtheilungen is to appoint committee members, and, in the lower house, to make preliminary examination of election returns. In each house there are eight standing committees. For the consideration of particular measures special committees are constituted as occasion demands.
*283. Powers.*—The Landtag is, of course, primarily a legislative institution. But the powers of independent deliberation which it exercises are distinctly inferior to those exercised by the British House of Commons, by the French Chamber of Deputies, or by any one of a half score of other European parliamentary bodies. This fact arises from the relatively preponderating influence which is exerted by the Government in its proceedings. In theory each chamber possesses the right to initiate legislation; in practice, virtually all bills are introduced by the Government, and the chambers content themselves with discussion and the proposing of amendments. It not infrequently happens that, as in the case of the Electoral Reform Bill of 1910, the lower house so emasculates a measure as to compel the Government to withdraw it. But, speaking broadly, it may be said that the legislative acts of Prussia are projected and formulated by the crown and the ministers and merely ratified by the Landtag. There is still some question as to whether the stipulation that all laws require the assent of the two houses covers, under every circumstance, the appropriation of money. In practice, appropriations are regularly voted in the chambers, and in fact it is required that the budget and all fiscal measures shall be presented first to the lower house and shall be accepted or rejected as a whole by the upper; but during the years immediately preceding the Austrian war of 1866 the Government asserted and exercised the power of collecting and expending the revenues of the state on the basis of standing laws, thus virtually (p. 265) suspending the legislative appropriating power, and the question has never been finally settled by Prussian jurists as to whether such a thing might not again be done.
[Footnote 387: Lowell, Governments and Parties, I., 298.]
On the side of administration the powers of the Landtag are but nominal. Under provisions of the constitution each chamber has a right to present memorials to the king; to refer to the ministers documents addressed to it, and to demand explanations respecting complaints made therein; and to appoint commissions for the investigation of subjects for its own information. The right of interpellation is expressly recognized. But, as has been pointed out, the ministers are not in practice responsible to the legislative chambers, and neither they nor the king himself can be compelled to give heed, unless they so desire, to legislative protests, demands, or censure. Where a parliamentary system does not exist, the influence of the legislative branch upon matters of administration is likely to be confined to the simple assertion of opinion.
IV. LOCAL GOVERNMENT: ORIGINS AND PRINCIPLES
[Footnote 388: The judicial system of Prussia, regulated in common with that of the other states by Imperial law, is described in Chapter 11, pp. 241-244. Articles 86-97 of the Prussian constitution deal with the subject of the judiciary, but many of their provisions have been rendered obsolete by Imperial statutes.]
*284. The Measures of Stein and Hardenberg.*—The origins of the local governmental regime prevailing in the kingdom of Prussia to-day antedate, to some extent, the nineteenth century, but in large part they are to be traced to the period of the Stein-Hardenberg ministries. By the memorable Municipal Edict (Staedt-Ordnung) of November 19, 1808, Stein set up a complete municipal system, with burgomasters, executive boards, and town councils (all elective), and swept away the oligarchy of the guilds, broadened the franchise, and conferred upon the towns almost complete independence, even in the matter of taxation. An edict of 1831 inaugurated a revival of the right of the central authorities to supervise local taxation and introduced a number of other changes, but, on the whole, the municipal arrangements of the present day are based upon the edict of Stein. More immediately, they rest upon an act of 1853, applied originally only to the six eastern provinces of the kingdom, but eventually extended to the others. Aside from its introduction of the three-class electoral system, and a few other matters, this law follows closely the measure of 1808 and but consolidates and extends pre-existing arrangements. Neither Stein nor Hardenberg touched the (p. 266) constitution of the country communes, but the extension, during the Napoleonic occupation, of the French communal system into all the Prussian territories west of the Elbe prepared the way for the essentially uniform system which was established by the Westphalian and Rhineland Edicts of 1841 and 1845. Edicts of 1807 and 1811 abolished the aristocratic basis of the ancient circles (Kreise), and after 1815 the circle as a unit of local government next above the commune was extended to all the conquered or reconquered territories. The revival of the old provincial organization was begun also in 1815, when the kingdom was divided into ten provinces; and in the same year there were established twenty-six government districts (Regierungsbezirke), two or three within each province, each under the control of one of the government boards (Regierungen) whose creation had been begun in 1808.
[Footnote 389: The text of the law of 1853 is printed in the appendix of A. W. Jebens, Die Staedtverordneten (Berlin, 1905).]
[Footnote 390: E. Meier, Die Reform der Verwaltungsorganisation unter Stein und Hardenberg (Leipzig, 1881).]
*285. The Reforms of Bismarck.*—Throughout the middle portion of the nineteenth century the administrative system, modified but slightly by legislative enactment, continued to present a curious combination of elements which were popular and elements which were narrowly bureaucratic and, in some instances, essentially feudal. Beginning in 1872, Bismarck addressed himself to the task of co-ordinating, strengthening, and to a certain extent liberalizing, the local institutions of the kingdom. The ends at which he aimed principally were the abolition of conditions by which it was made possible for the whole machinery of local government to be captured from time to time by a single social class for its own benefit, and the establishment of a system under which all classes of the population might be admitted to participation in the management of purely local affairs. In the course of the reform which was carried through numerous features of English local institutions were copied with some closeness. In a number of scholarly volumes appearing between 1863 and 1872 the genius of these institutions had been convincingly expounded by the jurist Rudolph Gneist, whose essential thesis was that the failure of parliamentary government in Prussia and the success of it in Great Britain was attributable to the dissimilarity of the local governmental systems of the two countries; and by these writings the practical proposals with which Bismarck came forward were given important theoretic basis. Neither Gneist nor Bismarck sympathized with the ideals of democracy, but both believed that the local (p. 267) administrative authorities should be made to include not only a paid, expert bureaucracy but a considerable element of unpaid lay or non-official persons, drawn, however, principally from the large landowners and taxpayers. The obstacles to be overcome, arising from public indifference, the opposition of the existing bureaucracy, the apprehensions of the Conservatives, and sectional differences and antipathies, were enormous, but by proceeding slowly and in a conciliatory spirit the Government was able eventually to execute the larger portion of its plans. The first enactments, for the circles in 1872 and for the provinces in 1875, were applied only to those provinces which had formed the old monarchy, but during the ensuing ten years similar measures were extended to the remainder of the kingdom, and, finally, after the dismissal of Bismarck, the task was rounded out by a great Landgemeinde-Ordnung issued for the seven eastern provinces in 1891. By this series of enactments the administrative methods and machinery of the kingdom were reduced to substantially the character which they to-day possess.
[Footnote 391: The most important of Gneist's works in this connection are: Geschichte des self-government in England (1863); Verwaltung, Justiz, Rechtsweg (1867); Die preussische Kreis-Ordnung (1871); and Der Rechtsstaat (1872).]
*286. Principles of the Administrative System.*—Although the system is still one of the most complicated in Europe, it is infinitely simpler than once it was, and the bureaucratic forces in it, if still predominant, have been subjected to a variety of important restraints. The principles which underlie it have been summarized by an English writer as follows: "The first is the careful distinction drawn between those internal affairs in which the central government is thought to be directly concerned, and those which are held to be primarily of only local interest. The former group includes, besides the army, the state taxes and domains, ecclesiastical affairs, police (in the wide Prussian meaning of the term), and the supervision of local authorities; whilst roads, poor relief, and a number of miscellaneous matters are left to the localities. These two groups are kept carefully separate, even when they are entrusted to the same authority. Secondly, the work of the central government is 'deconcentrated,' that is, the country is divided into districts (which may or may not be coincident with the areas of local self-government), in each of which there is a delegation of the central authority, doing its work, and thereby lessening the pressure upon the departmental offices in Berlin. Something like this deconcentration is found in the educational organization of France, and also in the office of the Prefect, but it is far more elaborate, and the machinery much more complex, in Prussia. Thirdly the comparative independence of the executive from the deliberative authority, and the predominance of the officials, which characterize the central government of Prussia, repeat themselves throughout the whole of local government. And, finally, in all except the (p. 268) largest of the Prussian areas of local self-government, the executive agents of the locality, elected by it, are also the representatives of the central government; as such they are members of the bureaucracy and controlled by it, and in consequence they naturally look to the center for guidance and direction in regard to local affairs. Therefore, whilst it would be inaccurate to say that local self-government, as understood in England, does not exist in Prussia, it is true that self-government there is weak, that it is not so much the exercise of the will of the locality within limits prescribed (for the protection of the whole community) by the central power, as the exercise of the will of the latter by the locality. In fact, the bureaucracy rules; and it is fortunate for Prussia that hitherto the bureaucracy has remained intelligent and respective of new ideas."
[Footnote 392: Ashley, Local and Central Government, 130-132.]
At the same time it is to be observed that, while the professional, life-long holders of office continue to preponderate as in no other important country of western Europe, the class of non-professionals is large and constantly increasing. As a rule, the first class is salaried, the second is not; the non-professionals being simply citizens who, moved by considerations of a civic and social nature, give their services without prospect of pecuniary reward. The principle of the system is, as Ashley characterizes it, that of government by experts, checked by lay criticism and the power of the purse, and effectively controlled by the central authorities. And, although the details of local governmental arrangements vary appreciably from state to state, this principle, which has attained its fullest realization in Prussia, may be said to underlie local government throughout the Empire in general.
V. LOCAL GOVERNMENT: AREAS AND ORGANS
*287. The Province.*—Aside from the cities, which have their special forms of government, the political units of Prussia, in the order of their magnitude, are: (1) the Provinz, or province; (2) the Regierungsbezirk, or district; (3) the Kreis, or circle; (4) the Amtsbezirk, or court jurisdiction; and (5) the Gemeinde, or commune. Of these, three—the first, third, and fifth—are spheres both of the central administration and of local self-government; two—the second and fourth—exist for administrative purposes solely. Of provinces there are twelve: East Prussia, West Prussia, Brandenburg, Pomerania, Silesia, Posen, Westphalia, Saxony, Hanover, the Rhine Province, Schleswig-Holstein, and Hesse-Nassau. Unlike the French and (p. 269) Italian departments, the Prussian provinces are historical areas, of widely varying extent and, in some instances, of not even wholly continuous territory. Thus Hanover is, geographically, the kingdom once united with the crown of Great Britain, Schleswig-Holstein comprises the territories wrested from Denmark in 1864, Saxony is the country taken from the kingdom of Saxony at the close of the Napoleonic wars, and Posen represents Prussia's ultimate acquisition from the Polish partitions of the eighteenth century.
[Footnote 393: For all practical purposes the city of Berlin and the district of Hohenzollern form each a province. If they be counted, the total is fourteen.]
In the organization of the province the separation of functions relating to the affairs of the kingdom (Staatsgeschaefte) from those which relate only to matters of a local nature is carried out rigidly. In the circle, as will appear, the two sets of functions are discharged by the same body of officials; in the district, the functions performed are wholly of a national, rather than a local, character; but in the province there are not merely two sets of functions but two entirely separate groups of officials.
*288. Provincial Organs of the Central Administration.*—For the administration of affairs of general interest, such as police, education, and religion, the organs within the province are (1) the Oberpraesident, or chief president, appointed by the king to represent the central government in the management of all such matters as concern the entire province or reach beyond the jurisdiction of a single Regierungsbezirk administration, and (2) the Provinzialrath, a provincial council consisting of, besides the Oberpraesident or his representative as presiding officer, one professional member appointed for an indefinite tenure by the Minister of the Interior and five ordinary citizen members elected, usually for a term of six years, by the provincial Ausschuss, or committee. The Oberpraesident is the immediate agent of the ministry, as is the prefect in France, though he is a more dignified and important functionary than his French counterpart. None the less, by virtue of the fact that most of the Oberpraesident's acts are valid only after having been accorded the assent of a body the majority of whose members are chosen within the province, the bureaucratic aspect of his position is subjected to a highly important limitation.
[Footnote 394: Schulze, Das Staatsrecht des Koenigreichs Preussen, 63.]
*289. Provincial Organs of Self-Government.*—By the side of this official group stands another, quite independent of it, for the control of affairs of purely local concern. Its organs comprise: (1) the Provinzialausschuss, or provincial committee, consisting of from seven to fourteen members elected for six years by the provincial (p. 270) Landtag, not necessarily, but almost invariably, from its own membership; (2) a Landeshauptmann or Landesdirektor, a salaried executive official elected by the Landtag for six or twelve years and confirmed by the crown; and (3) the Provinziallandtag, or provincial assembly. The Landeshauptmann is the executive, the Provinzialausschuss the consultative, organ of local self-administration; the Provinziallandtag is the provincial legislature. Members of the Landtag are elected for six years (one-half retiring every three years) by the diets of the circles, and they comprise, as a rule, local administrative officials of the circles, large landowners, and other well-to-do persons. Sessions are convoked by the crown at least every two years. The Landtag's functions are comprehensive. They include the supervision of charities, highways, and industry; the voting of local taxes and the apportionment of them among the circles; the enactment of local laws; the custody of provincial property; the election of the Landeshauptmann and the members of the provincial committee; and the giving of advice on provincial matters at the request of the central government. The Landtag is in practice less independent, however, than this enumeration of powers might seem to imply. All of its legislation requires the assent of the king; most of its fiscal arrangements must be submitted to one or more of the ministers; and the body itself may be dissolved at any time by the crown.
[Footnote 395: Towns of twenty-five thousand inhabitants or more may, by ministerial decree, be set off as separate circles. In such circles Landtag members are chosen by the municipal officials.]
*290. The Government District.*—Each province is divided into a number of Regierungsbezirke, or districts, of which there are now thirty-five in the kingdom. Unlike the province, the district exists for purposes of general administration only. It therefore has no organs of self-government. Its Regierung, or "administration," consists of a body of professional, salaried officials, appointed by the crown and having at its head the Regierungspraesident, who is, on the whole, the most important official in the Prussian local service. The subjects that fall within the jurisdiction of the functionaries of the district, including taxation, education, religion, forests, etc., are very comprehensive, and the work of administration is carried on chiefly through "colleges," or boards. For the management of police and the supervision of local bodies there exists a Bezirksausschuss, or district committee, composed of the Regierungspraesident, two (p. 271) other persons appointed by the crown, and four members elected by the Provinzialausschuss for six years. A very important function which this body has possessed since 1883 is that of sitting, under the presidency of one of its members appointed for his judicial qualifications, as the administrative court of the district.
[Footnote 396: The province of Schleswig-Holstein, however, contains but a single district. The largest number of districts in a province is six, in Hanover.]
[Footnote 397: The immediate legal basis of the organization of the district is the Landesverwaltungsgesetz of 1883.]
*291. The Circle.*—In the Kreis, or circle, as in the province, there exist two sharply distinguished sets of governmental functions, the general and the local; but for the administration of both there is a single hierarchy of officials. The number of circles within the kingdom is about 490, with populations varying from 20,000 to 80,000. Each includes all towns lying within it which have a population of less than 25,000. A town of over 25,000 is likely to be created, by ministerial order, a circle within itself, in which case the functions of government are exercised by the municipal authorities. The essential organs of government within the Landkreise, or country circles, are three: the Landrath, the Kreisausschuss, and the Kreistag. The Landrath is appointed for life by the crown, on nomination frequently by the Kreistag, or diet. He superintends all administrative affairs, general and local, within the circle; fulfills the functions of chief of police; presides over the Kreisausschuss and Kreistag; and, in general, occupies within the circle the place occupied within the province by the Oberpraesident. Associated with him, and organized under his presidency, is the Kreisausschuss, or circle committee, composed of six unofficial members elected by the Kreistag for six years. In addition to its consultative functions, the Kreisausschuss sits as an administrative court of lowest grade.
[Footnote 398: Approximately one hundred towns have been so constituted.]
The Kreistag is the legislative body of the circle. Its members, numbering at least twenty-five, are elected for a term of six years by three Verbaende, or colleges, the first being made up of the cities, the second of the large rural taxpayers, the third of a complicated group of rural interests in which the smaller taxpayers and delegates of the communal assemblies preponderate. The Kreistag is a body of substantial importance. It chooses, directly or indirectly, all the elective officials of the circle, of the district, and of the province; it creates local officers and regulates their functions; it enacts legislation of a local nature; and it votes the taxes required for both its own and the provincial administration.
[Footnote 399: For a fuller statement of the electoral system see Lowell, Governments and Parties, I., 325.]
*292. The Commune.*—The smallest of Prussian governmental units (p. 272) is the Gemeinde, or commune. Of communes there are two distinct types, the rural (Landgemeinde) and the urban (Stadtgemeinde). The governments of the rural communes (some 36,000 in number) are so varied that any general description of them is virtually impossible. They rest largely upon local custom, though reduced at some points to a reasonable uniformity under regulating statutes such as were enacted for the communes of eight of the twelve provinces in the Landgemeinde-ordnung of 1891. There is invariably an elective Schulze, or chief magistrate. He is assisted ordinarily by from two to six aldermen (Schoeffen) or councillors. And there is generally a governing body (Gemeindevertretung), composed of elected representatives, when there are as many as forty qualified electors,—otherwise the people acting in the capacity of a primary assembly (Gemeindeversammlung),—for the decision of matters relating to local schools, churches, highways, and similar interests. It is to be observed, however, that most of the rural communes are so small that they have neither the financial resources nor the administrative ability to maintain a government of much virility. Such action as is taken within them is taken almost invariably with the approval of, and under the guidance of, the authorities of the circle, principally the Landrath.
[Footnote 400: The Amtsbezirk is essentially a judicial district. See p. 243. In the eastern provinces it is utilized also for purposes of police administration.]
[Footnote 401: For an annotated edition of this important instrument see F. Keil, Die Landgemeinde-ordnung (Leipzig, 1890).]
[Footnote 402: On Prussian local government see Lowell, Governments and Parties, I., 308-333; F. J. Goodnow, Comparative Administrative Law (2d ed., New York, 1903), I., 295-338; and Ashley, Local and Central Government (London, 1906), 125-186, 263-287. Fuller accounts are contained in Schulze, Das preussische Staatsrecht, I., 436-538; K. Stengel, Organisation der preussischen Verwaltung, 2 vols. (Berlin, 1884); C. Bornhak, Preussisches Staatsrecht, 3 vols. (Freiburg, 1888-1890), and Hue de Grais, Handbuch der Verfassung und Verwaltung in Preussen, etc. (17th ed., Berlin, 1906). Texts of local government acts are printed in G. Anschutz, Organisations-gesetze der innern Verwaltung in Preussen (Berlin, 1897). The best description in English of Prussian municipal government is that in Munro, The Government of European Cities, 109-208. A good brief sketch is Ashley, Local and Central Government, 153-164. The best account of some length in German is H. Kappleman, Die Verfassung und Verwaltungsorganisation der preussischen Staedte, in Schriften des Vereins fuer Sozialpolitik (Leipzig, 1905-1908), vols. 117-119. Mention may be made of A. Shaw, Municipal Government in Continental Europe (New York, 1895), Chaps. 5-6; E. J. James, Municipal Administration in Germany (Chicago, 1901); and Leclerc, La Vie municipale en Prusse, in Annales de l'Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques, Oct., 1888. For ample bibliography see Munro, op. cit., 389-395.]
In their governmental arrangements the urban communes exhibit more uniformity than do the rural, though occasionally among them there is wide variation. The usual organs comprise (1) the Stadtrath, (p. 273) an executive body consisting of a burgomaster and a number of assistants, elected for six, nine, or twelve years, or even for life, and (2) the Stadtverordnete, or municipal council, chosen for from three to six years, as a rule by an electorate identical with that which returns the members of the lower branch of the Prussian Landtag.
CHAPTER XIV (p. 274)
THE MINOR GERMAN STATES—ALSACE-LORRAINE
*293. Essential Similarity of Political Institutions.*—The preponderance of Prussia among the twenty-five states comprised within the German Empire is such as to lend the governmental system of that kingdom an interest and an importance which attaches to the political arrangements of no one of the remaining members of the federation. No description of German governments would be adequate, none the less, which should ignore wholly the minor states. A number of these states, especially Bavaria, Baden, Wuerttemberg, and Saxony, are of considerable size, and the populations which are governed within them approximate, or exceed, the populations of certain wholly independent European nations, as Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal, and several of the states of the southeast. It would be unnecessary, however, even were it possible, to describe in this place twenty-five substantially independent German governmental systems. Despite no inconsiderable variation, there are many fundamental features which they, or the majority of them, possess in common. All save three—Hamburg, Bremen, and Luebeck—are monarchies. All save two—Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz—have written constitutions and elective legislative chambers. In every one of the monarchies the total lack of anything in the nature of ministerial responsibility to a parliamentary body leaves the way open for the maintenance of vigorous and independent royal authority, and it is not too much to say that in all of them, as is pre-eminently true in Prussia, the principle of autocracy lies at the root of both the organization and the methods of government. Local governmental arrangements and systems of administration of justice have been copied, in most instances, from Prussia. It will suffice to speak very briefly, first of a few of the more important monarchies, and subsequently of the city-state republics.
[Footnote 403: The texts of these constitutions, in the form in which they existed in 1884, are printed in Stoerk, Handbuch der deutschen Verfassungen. Even in the Mecklenburgs there are certain written instruments by which the curiously mediaeval system of government there prevailing is in a measure regulated.]
I. THE MORE IMPORTANT MONARCHIES (p. 275)
*294. Bavaria: Crown and Ministry.*—After Prussia, the most important of the German states, in point both of area and of population, is the kingdom of Bavaria. The constitution at present in operation in Bavaria was promulgated May 26, 1818, though it has undergone no slight modification through the process of amendment since that date. The original instrument replaced a fundamental law of May, 1808, devised by the king of Bavaria in imitation of the constitution given some months before by Napoleon to the kingdom of Westphalia; and even the present frame of government bears unmistakable evidence of French influence. The functions and prerogatives of king and ministers are substantially what they are in Prussia. In addition to the Ministry of State, consisting of the seven heads of departments, there is an advisory Staatsrath, or Council of State, comprising, besides the ministers, one prince of the royal blood and eight other members. In accordance with royal proclamation important acts of the government require the countersignature of all of the ministers. This, of itself, does not imply any larger measure of ministerial subordination than exists elsewhere in German governments, but it is worth observing that during a prolonged period, especially after 1869, there was persistent effort on the part of the Clericals to inject into the Bavarian system the principle of ministerial responsibility in the parliamentary sense of the phrase, and that although the attempt was by no means wholly successful, it is true that in Bavaria the ministers occupy in practice a somewhat less independent position than in other German monarchies. The device of interpellation, for example, not only exists in theory; it means something, as elsewhere in Germany it does not, in actual operation. If a minister will not answer an interpellation that is addressed to him, he is obliged by law at least to give reasons for his refusal.
[Footnote 404: Among amendments the most notable have been that of March 9, 1828, relating to the composition of the upper legislative chamber; those of June 4, 1848, and March 21, 1881, by which was modified the composition of the lower house; and that of April 8, 1906, whereby direct elections were substituted for indirect.]
[Footnote 405: The crown is hereditary in the house of Wittelbach, by which it was acquired as early as 1180. From 1886, the king, Otto I., being insane, the powers of the sovereign were exercised by the prince regent Luitpold, until his death December 12, 1912.]
[Footnote 406: Lowell, Governments and Parties, I., 338.]
*295. The Bavarian Landtag.*—The Landtag of Bavaria consists of two chambers. The upper, designated officially as the Kammer der Reichsrate ("chamber of the council of the Empire"), is composed of princes (p. 276) of the royal family, crown dignitaries, high ecclesiastics, hereditary nobles, and life members appointed by the crown—in all, some eighty-five to ninety persons. The lower chamber, or Abgeordnetenkammer, consists of 163 members. By law of 1881 the class system of voting in Bavaria was replaced by an equal suffrage extended to all males paying a direct tax. Elections continued to be indirect until 1906, when provision was made for elections by direct and secret ballot. Deputies are chosen for a term of six years and are apportioned in such a manner that, normally, there is one for every 38,000 people. Every male inhabitant is entitled to vote who at the time of the election has completed his twenty-fifth year, has been a Bavarian citizen during at least one year, and has paid to the state a direct tax during at least the same period. The Landtag must be summoned not less frequently than once every three years. The budget is made up on a two-year basis, so that sessions are held, in point of fact, biennially.
[Footnote 407: Grassman, Die bayerische Landtagswahlgesetz vom 8 April, 1906, in Jahrbuch des Oeffentlichen Rechts der Gegenwart, I., 242. A law of April 15, 1908, introduced the principle of proportional representation in Bavarian municipal elections.]
[Footnote 408: M. von Seydel, Das Staatsrecht des Koenigreichs Bayern, (Freiburg, 1888), in Marquardsen's Handbuch; E. Junod, La Baviere et l'Empire allemande, in Annales de l'Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques, Apr. 15, 1892.]
*296. Saxony: Crown and Ministry.*—Third among the states of the Empire in population, though fifth in area, is the kingdom of Saxony. The present Saxon constitution was promulgated September 4, 1831, under the influence of the revolutionary movements of 1830. By it a monarchy governed under a mediaeval system of estates was converted into a monarchy governed, at least nominally, under a modern representative regime. In point of fact, however, the inauguration of constitutionalism tempered the actual authority of the monarch very slightly. The king is still in every sense the supreme authority within the state. He appoints and dismisses ministers at will, issues ordinances with the force of law, and exercises far-reaching control over the processes of legislation. Upon the failure of the chambers to vote supplies which are held to be essential, he may even collect and expend revenues for a year on no authority apart from his own. For purposes of administrative supervision there are ministers of War, Finance, Justice, Foreign Affairs, the Interior, and Education, and the ministers collectively comprise a Gesammt-Ministerium, or ministry of state. Measures of the crown are countersigned by a minister; but there is no means by which a minister may be forced out of office against the will of the (p. 277) king by a hostile legislative chamber.
[Footnote 409: The crown is hereditary in the Albertine line of the house of Wettin, with reversion to the Ernestine line, of which the duke of Saxe-Weimar is now the head. The present sovereign is Frederick August III.]
*297. The Saxon Legislative Chambers.*—The Saxon legislature (Standeversammlung) consists of two houses. The upper, designated simply as the First Chamber, is a composite body consisting of forty-six members, in addition to a variable number of adult princes of the royal house. The membership comprises, principally, (1) important prelates; (2) certain university officials; (3) proprietors of great estates, twelve elected and ten appointed by the crown for life: (4) the first magistrates of Dresden and Leipzig; (5) six burgomasters of other cities, designated by the king; and (6) five nobles named for life by free choice of the king. The lower house consists of ninety-one deputies, of whom forty-three are elected by the towns and forty-eight by the rural communes. At one time members were chosen by direct secret ballot under a general and equal suffrage based upon a small tax qualification. Fear of socialism led, however, to the adoption, in 1896, of a new system under which the tax qualification was retained, indirect elections were substituted for direct and public voting for the secret ballot, and a three-class scheme was brought into operation which threw political preponderance into the hands of the well-to-do scarcely less effectively than does the three-class arrangement in Prussia.
After prolonged agitation the reactionary measure of 1896 was replaced by a comprehensive electoral law of May 5, 1909 by which direct and secret voting was re-established and the interests of property were sought to be safeguarded by a newly devised system of plural votes. As the law now stands (1) all males who have attained the age of twenty-five and who pay direct taxes are entitled to one vote; (2) men owning two hectares of land, or paying a tax upon an annual income of 1,250, 1,400, or 1,600 marks, according, respectively, as such income is drawn from land, public office, or general sources, and men who have passed certain examinations, are entitled to two votes; (3) voters paying taxes yearly, as above, upon an income of 1,600, 1,900, or 2,200 marks, or who possess four hectares of land, or who as teachers, engineers, artists, or writers earn an income of 1,900 marks, possess three votes; (4) persons paying a tax, as above, on an income of 2,200, 2,500, or 2,800 marks, or owning eight hectares of land, have four votes; and (5) every person belonging to the first, second, or third of these classes is allotted an additional vote when he attains the age of fifty, the total number of votes possessed by one elector never exceeding four. Curiously enough, at the first elections held under this law, in October, 1909, the socialists, (p. 278) who previously were represented by but a single member, gained twenty-five seats, or upwards of a third of the entire number. The chambers must be summoned by the king at least once in two years. Both may propose measures, but in practice leadership in the business of legislation is left very largely to the king and ministry.
[Footnote 410: O. Mayer, Das Staatsrecht des Koenigreichs Sachsen (Tuebingen, 1909).]
*298. Wuerttemberg: Crown and Ministry.*—The constitution of the kingdom of Wuerttemberg was promulgated, following prolonged political controversy, September 25, 1819. At the head of the state is the king, whose powers are in some respects even larger than those belonging to other German sovereigns. It is required that all political acts, except the bestowing of titles of nobility, shall be performed only with the sanction in writing of a minister; but, by reason of the king's absolute control of the ministry, this constitutes no invasion of the crown's essential prerogative. Of ministers there are six. These collectively comprise the Ministry of State, and they, together with certain appointive councillors, likewise constitute the Geheimerrath, or Privy Council, which the sovereign consults at pleasure.
[Footnote 411: The reigning sovereign is William II.]
*299. The Assembly of Estates: Proportional Representation.*—The legislative body of Wuerttemberg is known as the Standeversammlung, or Assembly of Estates. The upper chamber,—the Standesherren, or House of Lords,—consists of princes of the royal family; other princes, under varying conditions; knights; ecclesiastical dignitaries; and members appointed by the crown, in part according to stipulated conditions and in part without reference to any necessary consideration of birth, wealth, or religious affiliation. The Abgeordnetenhaus, or House of Deputies, consists of ninety-two members chosen for a term of six years, as follows: one from each of the administrative divisions (Oberamtsbezirke); six from Stuttgart and one from each of six other important towns; nine from the Neckar and Jagst circle; and eight from the Black Forest and Danube circle. Election is by direct and secret ballot, on a basis of universal suffrage for males over twenty-five years of age. By constitutional amendment of July 16, 1906, there was introduced a scheme of proportional representation under which the six deputies of Stuttgart and the seventeen of the Neckar and Jagst and the Black Forest and Danube circles are distributed among the several political groups in approximate proportion to the numerical strength attained by these groups at the polls. This system, an innovation in Germany, was tested in the elections of December, 1906, and January, 1907, and was by most persons adjudged satisfactory.
[Footnote 412: J. Fontaine, La representation proportionnelle en Wuerttemberg, in Revue Politique et Parlementaire, Jan., 1911; ibid., La representation proportionnelle en Wuerttemberg (Paris, 1909).]
The remaining sixty-nine representatives are chosen still in (p. 279) single member districts. Prior to the amendment of 1906, the chamber was made up of seventy members chosen popularly and of twenty-three who sat as representatives of privileged or corporate interests—thirteen chosen by the landowning nobility, nine dignitaries of the Protestant and Catholic churches, together with the Chancellor of the University of Tuebingen.
[Footnote 413: G. Combes de Lestrade, Monarchies de l'Empire allemand, 181; L. Gaupp, Das Staatsrecht des Koenigreichs Wuerttemberg (Freiburg and Tuebingen, 1884), in Marquardsen's Handbuch; W. Bazille, Das Staats-und Verwaltungsrecht des Koenigreichs Wuerttemberg (Hanover, 1908), in Bibliothek des Oeffentlichen Rechts der Gegenwart. The monograph of Gaupp, revised by him in 1895 and by K. Goez in 1904, has been re-issued as essentially a new volume by Goez (Tuebingen, 1908).]
*300. The Government of Baden.*—In July, 1808, a constitutional edict was promulgated in Baden in imitation of the fundamental law which Napoleon in the previous year had bestowed upon the kingdom of Westphalia. August 22, 1818, this instrument was replaced by the constitution at present in operation. Executive power is vested in the grand-duke, with the customary provision for ministerial countersignature. Legislative power is shared by the monarch with a Landstaende of two houses. Under a liberalizing law of August 24, 1904, the upper chamber consists of princes of the reigning family, nobles occupying hereditary seats, members appointed for four years by the grand-duke, and representatives of a variety of ecclesiastical, educational, and other corporate interests. The lower house is composed of seventy-three representatives elected for four years (twenty-four by the towns and forty-nine by the rural districts) by male citizens over twenty-five years of age. Direct election was substituted for indirect in 1904. Half of the membership of the lower chamber is renewed every two years. In Baden there has been rather more progress than in the majority of German states toward liberal and responsible government.
[Footnote 414: Lowell, Governments and Parties, I., 345; K. Schenkel, Das Staatsrecht des Grossherzogthums Baden (Freiburg and Tuebingen, 1884), in Marquardsen's Handbuch.]
II. THE LESSER MONARCHIES AND THE CITY REPUBLICS
*301. Monarchical Variations.*—With relatively unimportant exceptions, the governments of the remaining seventeen German monarchies exhibit features substantially similar to those of the governments that (p. 280) have been described. In each of the states, except the two grand-duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz, there is a written constitution, promulgated, in most instances, during the second or third quarter of the nineteenth century. Executive power in each is vested in the monarch; legislative power in the monarch and a Landtag, or assembly. The assembly consists ordinarily of a single chamber, varying in membership from twelve to forty-eight; and in most instances the members are chosen, at least in part, on a basis of manhood suffrage. In some states, as the principality of Lippe, the three-class electoral system prevails; and elections are still very commonly indirect. The trend toward liberalism is, however, all but universal, and within recent years numbers of important changes, e.g., the substitution of direct for indirect elections in Oldenburg and in Saxe-Weimar in 1909, have been brought about. In the curiously intertwined grand-duchies of Mecklenburg the common Landtag remains a typically mediaeval assemblage of estates, based, in the main, on the tenure of land.
[Footnote 415: The dates of the original promulgation of constitutions at present in operation are: Saxe-Weimar, 1816; Hesse, 1820; Saxe-Meiningen, 1829; Saxe-Altenburg, 1832; Brunswick, 1832; Lippe, 1836; Oldenburg, 1852; Waldeck, 1852; Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, 1852; Reuss Juengerer Linie, 1852 and 1856; Schwartzburg-Rudolstadt, 1854; Schwartzburg-Sonderhausen, 1857; Anhalt, 1859; Reuss Aelterer Linie, 1867; and Schaumburg-Lippe, 1868.]
[Footnote 416: Repeated attempts to bring about a modernization of the Mecklenburg constitutional system have failed. Several times the liberal elements in the Reichstag have carried a proposal that to the Imperial constitution there should be added a clause requiring that in every state of the Empire there shall be an assembly representative of the whole people. On the ground that such an amendment would comprise an admission that the constitutions of the states are subject to revision at the hand of the Empire, the Bundesrath has invariably rejected the proposal. In 1907 the grand-duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin inaugurated a movement for political reform, and in 1908 there was drafted a constitution providing for the establishment of a Landtag whose members should be chosen in part by the landed, industrial, professional, and official classes and in part by manhood suffrage. Late in 1909 the Ritterschaft (i.e., the estate comprising owners of knights' fees) rejected the proposal, as, indeed, it had rejected similar ones on earlier occasions.]
*302. Hamburg.*—The three free cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Luebeck are survivals of the ancient Hanseatic League. All have republican forms of government, differing in only minor details. The constitution of Hamburg came into operation January 1, 1861, and was revised in 1879 and in 1906. The principal organs of government are the Senate and the Buergerschaft, or House of Burgesses. The Senate consists of eighteen members elected for life by the House of Burgesses, but in accordance with an indirect method so devised that the Senate itself exercises a preponderating influence in the elections. A senator (p. 281) is privileged to retire, if he so desires, at the end of a six-year period, or at the age of seventy. Of the eighteen, half must have studied finance or law, while of the remaining nine at least seven must belong to the class of merchants. The House of Burgesses is composed of 160 members, elected for six years by voters whose qualifications are based upon property, taxpaying, or position. An electoral law of March 5, 1906, introduced the principle of proportional representation, but failed to break the dominance of the well-to-do classes in the chamber. Half of the membership is renewed triennially. The service is unpaid and, under ordinary circumstances, compulsory.
The larger portion of the executive authority is vested in the Senate. After the fashion of the prince of a monarchical state, this body appoints officials, designates and instructs the delegate in the Bundesrath, issues ordinances, and supervises administration. One senator is placed at the head of each of the nine executive departments. In matters of legislation the powers of the Senate and of the Buergerschaft are concurrent. Both bodies possess the right of legislative initiative, and all laws, treaties, and fiscal arrangements must receive the assent of both. The lower chamber elects and maintains a Buergerausschuss, or Committee of the Burgesses, consisting of twenty-five members, whose business it is to watch over the proceedings of the Senate and the administration of the laws. The sessions of both Senate and Buergerschaft are irregular but frequent.
*303. Luebeck and Bremen.*—The government of Luebeck rests upon a constitution proclaimed December 30, 1848, but revised in later years upon a number of occasions. The system is essentially similar to that in operation in Hamburg, the principal differences being that in Luebeck the full membership of the Buergerschaft (120) is elected by the citizens directly and that the Buergerausschuss, of thirty members, performs larger and more independent functions. The constitution of Bremen dates from March 5, 1849, but was revised in 1854, 1875, and three times subsequently. As in Luebeck, the Buergerschaft, of 150 members, is elected by all of the citizens, but under a class system according to which citizens who have studied at a university return fourteen members; the merchants, forty; the mechanics and manufacturers, twenty; and all other citizens who have taken the burgher oath, the remaining seventy-six. The Senate consists of fourteen members.
[Footnote 417: The presiding officer of the Senate is a burgomaster, chosen for one year by the senators from their own number. The burgomaster as such, however, possesses no administrative power.]
III. ALSACE-LORRAINE (p. 282)
*304. Original Problem of Organization.*—By the terms of the Peace of Frankfort, May 10, 1871, France ceded to Germany the province of Alsace and a portion of that of Lorraine—an aggregate of 5,605 square miles of hotly disputed territory whose population, while in considerable measure German, was none the less predominantly French. The position assigned the newly acquired territory within the Empire was anomalous. It was determined by two principal considerations: first, the fact that the districts comprised conquered territory inhabited by a discontented people and liable both to domestic disorder and foreign invasion; and, second, the further fact that the newly established Empire consisted of a federation of semi-autonomous states, into which subordinate territory acquired by war could not easily be made to fit. The annexed lands might conceivably have been erected, in 1871, into the twenty-sixth state of the Empire; but in no quarter was this policy so much as suggested. They might have been incorporated with one of the existing states, or divided among two or more of them; but this would have involved friction at a time when the stability of the new regime was not yet assured. The only course that to the statesmen and jurists of the day appeared feasible was to hold the new territories as the joint property of the states, under the sovereign control of the Imperial Government; and the arrangement hit upon in the execution of this policy was perpetuated, with modification only of administrative machinery, from 1871 until almost the present day.
*305. The Imperial Basis of Government.*—Prior to the enactment of the controverted Alsace-Lorraine Constitution Bill of 1911 Alsace-Lorraine was not a member of the German federation, but was, on the contrary, a mere dependency—a Reichsland, or Imperial territory. Beginning with a virtual dictatorship on the part of the Emperor, established under act of June 9, 1871, the governmental arrangements within the territory passed through a number of stages of elaboration. In the main, the organs of government employed until 1911, and a large proportion of those still in operation, were created, or perpetuated, by the constitutional statute of July 4, 1879. By this instrument the sovereignty of the territories was vested specifically in the Empire; the exercise of that sovereignty was vested in the Kaiser, acting alone or in conjunction with the Bundesrath. The Kaiser was represented personally at Strassburg, as he still is, by a Statthalter, or governor-general, whose powers were such as the Emperor might from time to time intrust to him. At Strassburg (p. 283) also was a ministry, with a secretary of state at the head, and with under-secretaries, appointed by the Kaiser, in charge of four departments; likewise a council of state, which was a purely advisory body made up of the secretary and under-secretaries, certain judicial officials, and from eight to twelve members specially appointed by the Kaiser for a term of three years.
*306. The Landesausschuss.*—Such privileges of self-government as were possessed by the inhabitants of the territory arose from the peculiar and complicated arrangements which were devised for legislation. In 1874 an Imperial decree called into being a Landesausschuss, or Territorial Committee. This body consisted originally of thirty members—ten elected in each of the three districts of Upper Alsace, Lower Alsace, and Lorraine. Its function at the outset was merely to give expert advice on subjects pertaining to local legislation and taxation. By law of 1877, however, it was intrusted with power to initiate legislation in matters pertaining solely to the territory. Measures of any sort designed for Alsace-Lorraine exclusively were enabled to be carried through by enactment in the Territorial Committee, provided they received the assent of the Bundesrath and were duly promulgated by the Emperor. The Committee was enlarged until it consisted of fifty-eight members, thirty-four of whom were elected by the assemblies of the three districts from their own membership, four others being chosen by the communal councils of Strassburg, Metz, Kolmar, and Muelhausen, and twenty elected by indirect suffrage from the twenty-three circles into which the territories were divided.
*307. Legislative Processes.*—Several conditions, however, operated to impose upon what might appear a fairly liberal system some very serious limitations. In the first place, there was no possibility of legislation which was wholly within the control of the inhabitants of the territory. The laws applicable solely to Prussia are made exclusively in Prussia, by Prussian authorities, and in like manner those of every other one of the confederated states. But those of Alsace-Lorraine, while they might be enacted in a provincial legislative chamber, acquired no validity until they should have been approved by the Empire through its agents, the Bundesrath and the Kaiser. In the second place, the method of legislation which has been mentioned did not occupy the field alone. With insignificant exceptions, any measure which might be enacted in the fashion described might be enacted in either of two other ways, in neither of which did the inhabitants of the territory have any appreciable influence. A measure might take the form of a simple decree of (p. 284) the Kaiser with the consent of the Bundesrath and Reichstag; or, in the case of an ordinance having the provisory force of law, it might be promulgated by the Kaiser with the consent of the Bundesrath alone. The fact that in practice the Territorial Committee ordinarily did participate in the legislative process was largely offset by the exceeding cumbersomeness and indirectness of the system. The normal procedure in the making of a law for the territory involved at least eight steps; (1) the projet was drawn up by the Statthalter; (2) it was approved by the Council of State at Strassburg; (3) it was transmitted, through the Imperial Chancellor, to the Kaiser; (4) if he approved, it was sent to Strassburg to receive the Statthalter's countersignature; (5) it was laid before the Bundesrath, the members of which, being but delegates, ascertained from their respective sovereigns how they should vote; (6) if all had gone well, the Territorial Committee, at Strassburg, passed the measure through the usual three readings; (7) it was returned to the Bundesrath again to be approved; and (8) it was promulgated by the Emperor—provided he did not see fit to veto and withhold it, as he had an entire right to do. Even if such roundabout law-making were to be considered in itself satisfactory there remained the disquieting condition that the Territorial Committee rested on no basis more substantial than a body of Imperial decrees capable at any time of being altered, or even revoked. Not merely was it altogether lacking in the independence of action enjoyed by the diets of the federated states; its very existence was precarious.