Landholding Inequality, Political Strategy, and Authoritarian Repression: Structure and Agency in Bismarck’s “Second Founding” of the German Empire

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2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Canonical works and recent studies posit that authoritarian repression, like that targeting Social Democrats during the “Second Founding” of the German Empire, depends on structural factors such as landholding inequality. However, at this juncture, the role of these variables was more complex than that in the “grand sweep” of German history. Liberal support for the 1878 Antisocialist Law was the result of an interaction between the strategy of the government and structures in society at large. Public outcry surrounding an assassination attempt on the Kaiser was provoked by the Chancellor through the press, and utilized as a political instrument by calling new elections. Liberals contesting districts with high landholding inequality came under conservative pressure led by landed aristocrats, and were forced to take up stances supporting repression. This first step in the “Second Founding” of the Empire marked an important move away from liberal governance which precluded democratic reform in Imperial Germany.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-97
Number of pages25
JournalStudies in Comparative International Development
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Authoritarianism
  • Democratization
  • Germany
  • Landholding inequality
  • Social Democracy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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