The German Empire (German: Deutsches Reich, literally "German Realm") is a federal parliamentary monarchy located in central Europe. With nearly a hundred million inhabitants, and spanning most of the area from Alsace-Lorraine to Lithuania, Germany is the second largest nation both in population and area after Eurasia in Europe. Germany also has the fourth largest GDP in the world, after Eurasia, the United States and China.
Founded in 1871 after Prussia defeated France in a short war and seized Alsace-Lorraine, the German Empire is a collection of statelets, with four major kingdoms (Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria and Westphalia) and several minor grand duchies, duchies and principalities. Originally controlled by Bismarkian conservatives during the reign of Wilhelm I of Germany, after his murder liberal forces, such as the National Liberals took control with the support of liberal Emperor Frederick IV. Ever since, liberal and social-democratic forces have strengthened, both through popular support and political weakening of the strong junker class.
Germany is the center of the Concert of Europe and, in many ways, the unofficial centre of influence of the Concert of Europe. It is part of the fiscal and economic union as well as the joint foreign policy, and, together with France, is one of the two unofficial heads of European blocs. Germany is the leader of the Mitteleuropa bloc (in contrast with France's Latin Union)
for history of Germany before 1878, see History of Germany
Frederick IV and the Start of Liberalisation
main article: Frederick IV, German Emperor
The main issues in regards to Frederick IV's liberal ideals was the constant infighting between the Conservative Party, especially the faction behind the Otto von Bismark government, and the Frederick-supported Liberals. The first issues were based on relatively petty controversies, the first of which is the election of Frederick IV to use Holy Roman nomenclature in his regnal name, something desperately opposed by the Junkers who thought calling the German Empire a continuation of Holy Roman Empire had too many Catholic overtones. Frederick IV engineered the creation of a pro-reform, centre-left coalition between the NLP and the Catholic Centre Party, called by Bismark the Alliance of All Demons.
Public opinion began shifting to the left both thanks to the rapid urbanisation of the nation as well as the government policies implemented by the nation. After Bismark was dismissed by Frederick IV in 1880 and his replacement with centre-left National Liberal Eugen Richter as Chancellor. Elections held in 1881 led to the continuation of the "Alliance of All Demons", which swept away most of Bismark's anti-Catholic Kulturkampf reforms, especially regarding Polish people. While keeping Bismark's corporate welfare state in place, the Alliance seeked to restructure the German imperial system. The German part of the Period of Reforms had began.
Conservatives were slightly relieved as they realised that the alliance between the National Liberals and the right-wing of the Zentrumspartei (which at the time called the shots) started falling into pieces. The "Alliance of All Demons" seemed about to fall apart, and, by 1884, indeed, the two parties openly attacked each other in Parliament. However, what the Conservatives failed to realise was that, rather than leading to Conservative government, the population had turned way too far to the left to permit Bismarkians to come back to power in the now much more powerful Reichstag. Despite predictions that the election would be close between possible pan-rightist (Zentrum-KP-DRP) and pan-leftist (DvP-NLP-SDP) coalitions would be deadlocked, eventually, the 1884 election proved a resounding success for the SDP in particular and the left in general, and a new, even more radical alliance, was created. This was the "Alliance of Rabble-Rousers", or "League of Ochlocracy" according to Bismarkians, and junker society met it with widespread opposition. They began to veto cooperation towards the government. Landowners began to lay off hundreds of workers over political motives, which forced the workers into crippling poverty. The Krupp family began a series of deliberate unproductivity in order to weaken Germany's steel industry. The shock towards the German economy was so great that it led to a recession in 1886, with GDP having estimatedly dropped by 2-5% in the period according to modern economists. However, rather than weakening the government, this greatly strengthened its resolve. Union membership soared, and trade unions banded together in the Generalkommission der Gewerkschaften Deutschlands (General Commission of German Trade Unions), which affiliated to the SPD.
The strengthening of the trade union movement and reinforcing of the SPD eventually led to deadlock in the German economy, which threatened the powerful German industrial machine. In order to prevent this from happening, left-wing Reichstag members agreed to meet with the Krupp family, and assure them that the German government was not attempting to end the wealth of the industry. Eugen Richter famously accorded a treaty with the aristocracy that allowed the return of the German economy, agreeing to continue a policy of relatively high tariffs for the time being in return for full productivity.
Fallout between Frederick IV and his son, Wilhelm, proved to be the beginning of the end for Prussian supremacy. Frederick felt the fact that Wilhelm might try to roll back many of Parliament's liberal reforms, and that the absolute rulership of Prussia over the other German states would mean it would be very easy for a return to political Junkerism. Therefore, he made the decision to split the kingdom into three, starting significant land reform in the territory. Saxony was given wide areas of the Province of Saxony, while the west was split into a new kingdom, Westphalia, and a new Reich territory, the Rhineland. While Frederick planned to return to 1848 regalia, including returning the capital to Frankfurt, no real plans were made to do so until after Frederick's reign.
Germany's next election, in 1887, led to a revitalised central effort, after the SPD's radical proposals began to be seen by the National Liberals as a liability. In the election, the SPD didn't gain as many votes as before (although it did gain over a million votes for the first time in its history) and actually lost seats due to the gerrymandered system of the German electorate. The Bismarkian KP and its ally, the DRP, both of which slightly rebounded, joined together into the Free Conservative Party (FKP), while the Liberals banded with Zentrum for a centre-left coalition.
The coalition's most important event was not done by the Parliament itself, but rather by young Prince Waldemar, who travelled to London to meet with Conservative Prime Minister Lord Salisbury in early 1888, as France fell into increased anarchy. Waldemar was able to open relationships with Salisbury, and began talking to starting an alliance against the French Third Republic, which was growing far more aggressive as an attempt to retain its political stability against internal revolts by part of the right. Relations with Russia, which continued to be part of the "Alliance of the Three Emperors", grew closer during the period.
Richter and Frederick pushed in 1889 a new law meant to limit the power of the Chancellor and the Emperor under the Constitution, and grant more power to the Reichstag. In many ways, this term was Frederick's most active, as he, ironically, strove to reduce the power of the Crown; he passed several edicts attempting to weaken Prussia and the strength of the monarchy, and move Germany to a more British governmental view. More powers were also given to the Queen Consort, Empress Victoria, giving him extensive constitutional powers, something she had enjoyed de facto for several years already. Fights with Richter, however, began over Frederick's wishes to further weaken the position of Reichskanzler, something which was a source of contention with he National Liberals for a long time.
Internationally, while seeking alliance with England, Frederick and Victoria were devoted pacifists. They tried to contain French aggression as it began worsening throughout the early 1890s, and sought close relations with Austria as well as Britain and Russia. Frederick also pushed to end Germany's place competing for what he considered "pieces of worthless desert", exchanging claims to Tanganika and Zanzibar for Helogiland, and selling away German Southwest Africa. While he did keep Kamerun under German "protection", there was little interest in these colonies.
Frederick fell ill in early 1892 with throat cancer, which got worse very rapidly. Seemingly realising he was on his deathbed, he granted the Kingdom of Westphalia as heritage to his favourite son, Waldemar, while hoping Heinrich would become Kaiser in place of Wilhelm (this wasn't officially known until Frederick IV's diaries were released to the public in 1945). Victoria was to retain residual powers, which she would use to continue lobbying for liberalism. Frederick IV died in March 4 of 1892, aged 61, after 14 years in the throne.
Wilhelm II's Brief Interlude
Before the reforms led by Frederick IV, the majority of the German Empire was under control of the Kingdom of Prussia (Königreich Preußen), which was the leader in German unification and the main power behind the government. There were three other subdivisions with a King, Bavaria (Königreich Bayern), Württenberg (Königreich Württenberg) and Saxony (Königreich Sachsen). Frederick IV's weakening of the German aristocracy led to the creation of a new Kingdom, the Kingdom of Westphalia (Königreich Westfalen). After the Great War, a sixth Kingdom was integrated, Austria (Königreich Österreich).
Most other governments in the nation are grand duchies. Baden, Hesse, Oldenburg, Mecklenburg-Pommerania and Mecklenburg-Streilitz are all Grand Duchies, as is one of the Thuringian States, the Grand Duchy of Saxony. Anhalt, Brunswick and four Thuringian states (Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Saxe-Lauenberg and Saxe-Meiningen) are regular Duchies. Lippe, Brunswick, Anhalt, Waldeck, and Honenzollern are Principalities.
Besides the constituent monarchies, there are three constituent republics: the Free and Hanseatic Cities of Bremen, Lübeck and Hamburg. Furthermore, two territories operate as republics, and are called "Imperial Territories": these are the Rheinland and Alsace-Lorraine, which do not have a native King, but rather elect their own Governors.
Germany, which originated as a confederation of states, has high political autonomy delegated to its constituent provinces.
Germany has a bicameral legislature, composed of the Reichstag, the lower house and the Reichsrat, the upper house. The Reichsrat represents each state equally, with delegates from every state being required to vote as a single unit, must approve the bills before they are introduced into the 397-member Reichstag, which votes on them. The Reichsrat has the responsibility of vetoing bills that pass the Reichstag, albeit a two-thirds majority can overrule this veto. Furthermore, a joint meeting of the two chambers after every election passes a vote on confidence on who is to be the next Reichskanzler.
As of the last election (having occurred in 2013), Germany has four major and two minor parties represented in Parliament, all of which have been in power at some point. Despite being roughly aligned into leftist and rightist parties, all parties have been in coalition with all others at least once. Currently, the government is composed of a minority government of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in a coalition with the Green Left (Die Grün-Linke), depending on supply and confidence agreements in regards to specific issues with either the Liberal Party of Germany (Die Liberale) and occasional deals with the Centre Party (Zentrumspartei). The official opposition is composed of the German Conservative Party (DKP) as well as the German Party (Deutsches Partei). As the Leader of the largest parliamentary group, Berlin representative Klaus Wowerweit (SPD) is the current Reichskanzler. The main political parties are as follows:
The Green Left's oldest composite party is the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), which is on itself a derivation from the left-wing breakaway Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) formed after the widespread reforms that started occurring after World War I. After changing its name to the Communist Party, it spent some time being a threat to the democratic establishment before shrinking in the polls after economic boom and the start of Social Democratic supremacy. The far-left in Germany was then expanded with the creation of a student ecologist movement, the Green Party (Grüne Partei) in 1979. In 1982, the Greens and the KPD agreed to join in an electoral alliance, and were then joined by the Bavaria-restricted Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the left-agrarian Democratic Farmer's Party (DBD). Leading to a greater electoral victory than ever before, with roughly 10% of the vote, the Green Left consolidated into a single listing, which has continued until the present day.
The Green left follows openly Marxist principles of income redistribution and class war, and officially adheres to ideologies such as democratic socialism and left-wing nationalism. The Green left is also considered a populist party, often calling for its voters to take down the capitalism establishment with grandiose wording. Due to its alliance with the DBD, the Green Left has also established an openly agrarian ideology.
The Green Left of Germany is part of the Communist International and the European Green Left in the European Parliament. The current leader is the Austrian Reichstag representative Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek. The Green Left currently has 40 representatives, or, roughly, 10% of Reichstag representation, making it the second smallest party in the Reichstag.
(Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands) - The chief party in the centre-left is the Social Democratic party, or SPD.
Officially founded in 1863, the SPD claims to be the oldest party currently represented in the Reichstag (although both the Conservatives and the Centre Party contest this). Based on workers' associations, the original purpose of the SPD was not really economic, instead being based on the rights of labour workers and the expansion of civil freedoms, restricted under Bismark's Kulturkampf and Anti-Socialist Laws. First in government at the establishment of the "Alliance of Rabble-Rousers" in 1884, the Social Democrats have been considered by some the "natural party in Government" even though it has stood in opposition roughly as long as it has stood in government.
The SPD is currently a sort of prototype, together with the British Social Democrats and the French SFIO, of the centre-left political party. The SPD is committed to strong workers' rights, a committed welfare state even more expansive than the one currently existing, internationalism and European integration, Based on their Gotha Programme of 1875 and their modernisation thereof, the SPD is a socialist party with explicitly non-Marxist ideas (Marx critiqued the SPD more than once, and the true representatives of Marxism in Germany today are the Green Left). The party's close ties to the trade union movement and the leftist intelligentsia make its primary bastions industrial zones (such as Saxony and the Rhineland) as well as wealthy cities (most notably Frankfurt, Erfurt and Berlin).
The Social Democrats, or SPD, is currently the largest party in government, with 97 seats in the Reichstag (or 24.4% of parliamentary representation) and the basis of government. Currently it operates in minority as the senior partner of a coalition with The Liberals.
(Zentrumspartei) - The Centre Party, also known as Zentrum or ZP, is a centrist party. It claims to be the oldest party in the Reichstag, claiming the true date of foundation of the SPD is 1875, thus making it five years younger than Centre. However, this is a hotly contested issue in German politics.
The Centre Party was founded as a Catholic interests party, adhering to the spectrum of "Political Catholicism" that emerged in many areas during the nineteenth century. While retaining many ideals of Political Catholicism (especially being member of White International), the Centre Party abandoned its explicit denominationalism after the repeal of the anti-Catholic Kulturkampf laws, which greatly reduced Catholic oppression and thusly the needs for an exclusively Catholic party. Having been the natural party of coalition with the Liberals, the Centre Party began shifting to non-denonminational Christian democracy.
Surprisingly for some, the Centre Party has been the party most often in government in German history since the end of the Great War. This is because of several reasons. Firstly, the Centre's ideals appeal to many moderates and Christians, which means it has a pretty wide voter vase and a large amount of seats. The fact that the party is on the political centre, and shares ideals with liberalism, conservatism and socialism, means coalitions can harmoniously occur between Zentrum and essentially any party in the Reichstag (with the exception of the Green Left, most of which are openly atheistic, and the Boulangists, taboo in German parliament). In fact, Centre is in opposition after 2013 for the first time since 1998, and due to its own volition due to the fact that Wowereit is openly gay, which led to opposition in the right-wing of Centre. Even then, through a supply and confidence agreement, the Centre Party has agreed to support most of the SPD's economic decisions, while in opposition for most of its social decisions.
The Centre Party is the second largest party in the Bundestag after the 2013 elections, with 82 seats (20.7% of parliamentary representation), but is not His Majesty's Official Opposition due to its supply and confidence agreement with the SPD. The current leader of the Centre Party is Angela Merkel, former Reichskanzlerin.
(Die Liberalen) - The Liberals, sometimes known as the NLP after their largest constituent, is a centre to centre-right political party.
The Liberals originated as the "alliance of all demons", a political coalition between the NLP, the LV and the DFP as well as the Catholic Centre Party. However, as the Centre-left the "alliance of all demons", the Liberal coalition remained, operating as a political bloc that coordinated joining or leaving political coalitions. After the Great War and the Grand Coalition, the Liberal parties agreed to integrate more closely, establishing a set list of candidates under the simple name "The Liberals". The party, in its current form, is a continuation of this joint list, with closer association. However, unofficially, the constituent parties of The Liberals still exist in regards to membership and ideological groups.
Due to the several different political parties that compose The Liberals, the bloc is a big-tent alliance. The main political party in Die Liberalen is, and has been for most of its history, the centre-right National Liberal Party (NLP); however, other large parties, such as the German Free Thinkers' Party (DFP) and the Left Liberal Party of Germany (Linksliberale) tend to lean to the left. Die Liberalen has most often taken a classical liberal stand, although its position has shifted along the nation's political history from social liberalism to full-on anarcho-capitalism. The Liberals tend to be most popular on the higher classes and the urban elite, especially in the financial capitals of Germany, which tend to be their centres of support. The Liberals did far better than their national average on the Rhineland and the main cities of Eastern Germany, while they barely got any representation from the countryside.
Historically, Die Liberalen has been the natural partner for government of the Centre Party when it comes in first. Depending on which wing is in power at the time, Die Liberalen has also achieved coalitions with the SPD and the Conservatives, making them, after the larger Centre Party, the second party that has been in government for the largest amount of electoral periods.
Die Liberalen is the fourth largest party in the Reichstag since the 2013 election, with 74 representatives (or 18.6% of the representation in Parliament). The current leader of Die Liberalen is Christian Lindner. The Liberals, currently led by mostly classical liberal figures like Lindner and Guido Westerwelle, are mainly relied on the Social Democrats in coalition in order to pass expansive social legislation, while, in regards to the SPD's economic policy, the Liberals tend to act as in opposition, while the SPD passes laws through supply and confidence agreements with the Centre Party and the Green Left.
The DKP is an openly conservative party, advocating the rollback of constitutional powers and the granting of more power to the monarchy, the removal of German involvement in a wider European Union, great nationalism and opposition to minorities, and an economic right-wing prospect. Despite the fact that they have moved to the centre in regards to economics in comparison to the right-wing sectors of the National Liberals, the DKP has still retained relevance due to its opposition towards mass immigration in Germany. Recently, with the liberalisation of most of urban Germany's social view, the DKP's source of support has shifted away from the urban elite, which mainly transferred to the Liberals, and towards the fields. The DKP has taken an actively agrarian economic perspective, which has allowed it to gain votes in the rural facets of society, from which most of their support has come, as well as from socially conservative workers tired of Zentrum's moderateness and the SPD's liberal social views.
The DKP is the third largest party in the Reichstag after the 2013 elections, with 81 seats (or 20.4% of the representation). Currently, they sit as the Official Opposition. The leader of the DKP is Stanislaw Tillich.
(Deutsches Partei) the German Party, unofficially also known as the Boulangist Party (despite the fact that Boulangisme is decried by the Party) is a far-right political party based on the ideas of Boulangisme and the Völkisch movement. The German Party is a far-right organisation founded shortly before the Great War, during the apex of international boulangisme, but generally suppressed by the German government. In fact, restrictions towards boulangisme in Germany only ceased to exist after the fall of the Havana Wall in 1989, as boulangist regimes stopped being a threat to Germany.
The German Party's ideology is well out of tune with any other party except the right-wing of the DKP. They are openly anti-semitic and anti-immigratory (although they have started to tone down these ideas into more bland populism in order to get more support), declare their wishes to return to an absolute monarchy or a military régime, and the reestablishment of Prussian militarism as the chief organisation behind German society.
The German Party is today seen as a taboo by all parties, which refuse to cooperate with such an extreme nationalist party. However, it has been in government twice before, giving extra-parliamentary support during both terms of Konrad Adenauer's premiership. This extremely controversial decision, while decried by socialists, is often accredited as the reason why the German Party is not seen as a protest vote, but rather as part of the establishment, and thus has never surged in the polls. The German Party barely made it past the representative threshold of Parliament with 23 seats, or 5.8% of Bundestag representation. It sits in opposition, but in different benches from the DKP, which has made very clear its lack of ties to the German Party. The current leader of the Deutsches Partei is Lutz Bachmann.
With a gross domestic product of 4.89 trillion (4.89*1012) Euro (roughly equivalent to OTL's dollar), Germany has the fourth largest GDP in the world, after the Eurasian Union, the United States of America and the United States of China. However, given the fact that Germany is the center of the European trade network emphasized by the economic aspects of the Concert of Europe, the German economy punches far above its weight. Germany is, in fact, the chief source of manufactured imports in the world, with German industry having a reputation for being reputable, with the highest GDP per hour of work at 80 dollars. Germany's main exporting industries are iron and steel and its derivatives (amongst them motor vehicles), electronic products, chemicals and foodstuffs.
Germany's workers have an extremely high rate of unionisation, and enjoy widespread rights and high wages. The average yearly salary for a German is 90,000 DM (roughly 45,000 Euro), which has been lauded by international economists as well above the living wage. Due to this, Germany has a strong middle-class population, one of the largest in the world. The German welfare state, provided by a mix of government and private funding, provides cheap healthcare, education and housing for all German citizens. German citizens are also guaranteed a basic basket of foodstuffs if they cannot afford to buy them as well as large benefits for those having two or more children, a tactic that has successfully pushed birthrates up.
Germany has a reputation for having a stable, reasonable-priced currency, which makes it the basis for the European Exchange Mechanism that essentially makes up the currency union between Concert of Europe members exist. 1 DM is pegged to 0.5 European Currency Units, which means the Mark is printed in denominations of 4, 10, 20, 50 100 and 200 (or 2, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 Euro) as well as a 2 and 1 Mark coins and 50, 20, 10, 4 and 2 Pfennings.
With a population of 97.4 million according to the last census (taken in 2015), Germany is the second most populous nation in the European continent, after Eurasia. The overall life expectancy in the German Empire is of 78.5 years, slightly higher for females than for males. The fertility rate has varied widely throughout the last 25 years, but is currently standing in 2.15 children per woman. Germany's population has had positive growth since the 1990s due to immigration, although birth rates have only for a short time gone above the replacement rate. Germany is expected by many demographic experts to face a middle-term problem due to an aging workforce and drastically slowing migration.
Ever since 1990, Germany has recorded ethnic data based on self-reporting in their census. According to the data from the latest census (taken in 2010), 73.1 million people (roughly three-fourths of Germany's population) are fully native, with no migratory background. An additional 4 million, or roughly 5%, are ethnic Germans that have background from outside Germany (such as the Volga Germans from Eurasia or previous economic emigrants to the Americas or Western Europe returning). A further 10 million people, roughly 10% of the population, is from non German European origin, be it mixed or pure; most of these are either Polish, Russian or Scandinavian. Of the 10.3 million remaining, roughly half is mixed-race with origins outside the Concert of Europe, and the other half is people with fully foreign background, which are about evenly split between Middle Easterners (where Turks and Assyrians predominate) and African (where inhabitants from Germany's former colonies in Kanem-Bornu, Kamerun and Kongo do).
Nine ethnic minorities are, in particular, recognised and given special autonomy because of the fact that they have lived in German soil for centuries. The ethnic minorities are:
- Czechs in the Sudetenland region of Austria;
- Danes in the northern part of Westphalia, in the province of Schleswig-Holstein;
- Frisians in the aforementioned parts of Westphalia, as well as near the Dutch border;
- Jews throughout Germany;
- Kashubians in northern Prussia, around the Danzig region;
- Polish people in certain parts of Prussia;
- Roma people throughout Germany;
- Silesians in Silesia in Austria, and
- Sorbs in eastern Brandenburg.
These nine groups have nationale Minderheiten status, and have their own cultural councils where some rules can be decided for their independent communities. Although their amount of economic power is next to none, the Minderheiten councils do supervise education and cultural activities for these minorities, which make them powerful tools in the hands of these ethnic groups, and distances their status from the "guest workers" (Gastarbeiter) and their descendants, which are treated as regular German citizens or immigrants depending on their individual status. The Minderheiten are also given additional funding for education to accommodate their special needs and (in the case of the Roma, which are still much more poor than the average German) try and bring them up to date.