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GERMANY: Anything May Happen

3 minute read

All Germany settled down for the second spasm of the presidential campaign (TIME, Mar. 16 et seq.).

The Socialist, Democrat and Catholic Parties, or Weimar coalition (socalled because these parties secured the passage at Weimar of the Republican Consitution in 1919), true to prediction, joined forces in support of coalition Candidate Wilhelm Marx, ex-Chancellor and leader of the Catholic Party. The Socialists gave in on condition that their leader, Herr Otto Braun, ex-Minister President (Premier) of Prussia, be re-elected as head of the Prussian Government. This was conceded and effected. The Democrats, opposed to a fusion with the Socialists, at first flirted with the Monarchists, but to no avail; later they definitely joined the Catholics and Socialists in support of the Republic.

The Pro-Monarchists or Reichsbloc, formed mainly of the Nationalists and German People’s Party, searched in vain to find another leader. General-feldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg was approached and, after some hesitation, refused to stand as the Monarchist candidate. It was expected that Dr. Jarres, the last candidate, would be renominated.

As between the two coalitions, there is nothing to choose: both have equal chances of polling a majority of the votes. At the last election, only 69% of the electorate voted, the reason being that everybody realized from the start that an absolute majority of the vote could not be obtained by any party. At the forthcoming contest, which takes places Sunday, Apr. 26, a much heavier vote is predicted. This means that there are a potential twelve million votes which are an unknown quantity.

As regards the present strength of the Reichstag: the pro-Monarchist parties increased their votes in the recent election by about 7%, while the Socialists increased theirs at the expense of the Communists by about 3%. It was argued, therefore, that the Monarchists could expect to poll a majority of the twelve million extra votes which are expected to be cast. On the other hand, plain figures showed that the Weimar coalition polled on separate tickets a total of 13,234,490 votes against the Reichsbloc’s 10,387,323. It would seem, therefore, that the Weimar coalition was sure to win.

In the coming election, however, rigid as is party discipline, a large number of stray votes are sure to be cast. Candidate Marx is a Catholic lawyer and leader of the Catholic Party, which, because the House of Hohenzollern is Protestant, is not espousing the Monarchist cause. As a Catholic, he will be anathema to many Protestants, atheists and extreme Socialists, who may well swell the Communist vote or fail to ballot altogether. It is fair to assume, however, that a very large majority of Socialists will place the Republican cause (not imminently threatened, for the Monarchists do not intend to change immediately the Republican form of Government) above their religious preferences. There are also fairly numerous dissident Catholic and Democrat factions which might conceivably vote the pro-monarchist ticket.

All in all, the two blocs are equal; and, although it seems likely that the Weimar Coalition will win, the vote is certain to be close and in a close election anything may happen.

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