A Deficit of Democracy? The German Kaiserreich in Comparative Perspective
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.13109/gege.2018.44.3.367
Negative assessments of the political trajectory of the Kaiserreich, known as the Sonderweg, originated in the dissatisfactions of contemporary German intellectuals, who measured real-existing Germany against an idealized England, France, and United States. Acomparison of laws and practices shaping representation in these states shows that Germany was not democratically "deficient." Other elements central to the Sonderweg's indictment of the Kaiserreich, such as a federalism that gave disproportionate power to a politically backward region, a military outside of the control of parliament, and a decision for war in 1914 made without parliament's participation, were also not unique. Comparatively speaking, Germany did not constitute a special case.