[EM] The electoral system of the Weimar Republic

mordles mordles at sprint.ca
Mon Aug 2 08:11:18 PDT 1999

Thank you for your comprehensive response.


Tom Round wrote:

> Dear jdm,
> Actually Weimar used fixed-party-list PR. Mixed-Member Proportional was a
> post-1945 innovation (although an earlier version had been tried in
> Denmark, in the 1920s I think) -- although, as someone I read once
> commented, MMP did enable the Federal Republic to combine the single-seat
> electorates that were used (with runoff ballot) before 1918 plus the
> party-list system that was used 1918-1933.
> The Weimar system was highly unusual in that the number of Reichstag seats
> wasn't fixed in advance of election day. Instead the quota was pegged by
> statute at 60,000 votes (I think). Initial allocation was in a few dozen
> regional electorates -- each list got 1 seat for every whole 60,000 votes
> -- then remainders for each party were pooled at State level, and finally
> at national level, again awarding a seat each time a party's combined
> left-over votes reached 60,000.
> On the final national allocation, a remainder over 30,000 got rounded up,
> but also a party could not win more seats at the third stage than it had
> won at the first and second. (Ie, a very small party might have over 30,000
> votes nationwide but if it couldn't muster 60,000 in any one State or
> region, it still got no seats.) Mind you this was a very minimal threshold
> and a large number of very small parties still won seats.
> My sources for the above are:
> *       Andrew McLaren Carstairs, A Short History of Electoral Systems in Western
> Europe (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1980).
> *       Clarence H Hoag and George H Hallett Jr (Proportional Representation.
> New York: Macmillan, 1926).
> Hope this helps, although I stand to be corrected on any of the details ...
> Tom.
> At 08:45 AM 8/2/99 +1000, you wrote:
> >To my knowledge, it was MMP as it is now... but don't quote me! I'll
> >follow this up after I've searched the web. One book you may or may not
> >get your hands on is one from just before Hitler became Chancellor, called
> >"Proportional Representation"- it's a seminal work on the subject of PR
> >and was commissioned by the US Proportional Representation Society
> >
> >I do know that Hitler's rise is often blamed on PR. That's not very
> >accurate. At most times, the Nazis where over-represented because of the
> >geographical distribution of their vote, which is the fault of FPP and
> >single-member seats rather than PR. Also, all the other Right-wing parties
> >of the time were particularly feral (including those that led to the
> >modern Christian Democratic parties) and an "unholy alliance" of sorts was
> >formed to punish the Left, which span out of control as the Nazis got more
> >and more concessions from the other parties using the threat of violence.
> >
> >Under MMP, a certain number of the seats in a house are selected by
> >single- or small-number-member seats. There is then an "At Large" process,
> >where another lot of members are elected at large to make up (or
> >approximate in some way) the proportions of the at-large vote that each
> >party got.
> >
> >On Sun, 1 Aug 1999, mordles wrote:
> >
> >> Was it some form of proportional representation, first past the post?
> >> Were the constituencies single member or multiple member?
> >>
> >> There is a massive amount of literature about this turbulent period,
> >> but my search for definitive answers has been fruitless.
> >>
> >> jdm
> >>
> =============================================================
> Tom Round
> BA (Hons), LL.B (Qld)
> Research Officer, Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance
> (incorporating the National Institute for Law, Ethics and Public Affairs),
> Griffith University, Queensland [Australia] 4111
> Ph:     07 3875 3817
> Fax:    07 3875 6634
> E-mail:         T.Round at mailbox.gu.edu.au
> Web:    http://www.gu.edu.au/school/ccj/
> =============================================================

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list