Previous: The North Is Annexed

After the election, the two largest bourgeois parties start talks for a coalition - the Catholic centre, winner in the South and West, and the National Liberals, who won the North. Although there are region- and confession-based resentments against each other, the two major political forces finally agree to form a coalition government. Emperor Luitpold makes the liberal von Miquel his first federal chancellor.

The two parties´ majority is large enough to last them through several electoral periods, in which they set out to modernise Germany`s economy. Roads and railroads are improved, free trade agreements are set up with most neighbours, even with France, industrial production and trade multiply.

But not everybody profits from this fast growth. In the industrial towns, slums grow fast and the working class still lives in squalour.

When on April 4th, 1897, an accident in a very unsafe coal mine in Hesse kills 87 miners, violent protests break out. At first, the workers only demand safety at work, higher wages and shorter working days. But conditions are so bad across the empire that soon enough, millions of workers march through the streets of all towns and cities. Red flags are seen everywhere, and the demands include the expropriation of mine and factory owners and worker control now. In a few places, clashes with the police lead to injuries and even casualties.

The SPD expresses full support for the protesters; indeed, its Parliamentarians are often seen in the midst of the marches. The conservatives demand that the government crushes the protests, using the armed forces. The centre-right coalition feels surrounded and hesitates.

For May, 1st, most of the major unions have announced a general strike.

What will von Miquel do?

Announce limited reforms to appease the workers.

Announce negotiations with the unions` leaders, but with no intent to give in.

Use the armed forces against the workers.

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