'Inept and Unsuccessful'. How Valid is this Comment on Bismarck's handling of Domestic Policy from 1871-90?
From her formal unification at Versailles in 1871, Bismarck, the first German Chancellor, took control of his new German State. Yet twenty years later, the 'Bismarckian era' in German history had ended, culminating in Bismarck's departure. With unification complete at least geographically, by 1871, Bismarck's next challenge lay with domestic policy and the running of the new German constitution.
In the early 1870s, Bismarck relied on the support of the National Liberals in the Reichstag as they were the largest single party. Bismarck acted to strengthen the newly created state in order to ensure its prosperity, and succeeded in establishing the State bank (Reichsbank) and adopting the gold standard. Bismarck also formed a National Court of Appeal that helped to promote feelings of a united state. With industry and economy booming, one could say that Bismarck was relatively successful during 'foundation time', opposing the suggestion.
Yet Bismarck was a pragmatist, and just as he had changed policies prior to 1870, so he continued to change his line of attack in the post-1870
period. Following the impact of the 'Great Depression' in Europe, the political basis upon which Bismarck had founded his power was undermined, and so Bismarck was forced to return to more protectionist policies. Added to the fact that in the Balkans there had been split alliances, the National Liberals and Bismarck were further split here. Not only did they oppose his rule of parliament, constitutional rule, but they were opposed to the policy of protectionism that Bismarck proposed, being in favour of free-trade. Bismarck had his reasons; to gain the support of industrialists, landowners, Conservatives and Centre Parties, creating income for the people, and it wasn't an unusual European trend. This shows that such a policy was not of inept t...