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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

And Hohenlohe and Bulow adhered to the older plan


Prussia and the empire.

If the states have been loyal to the empire, the imperial government has also respected the constitutional privileges of the states. The harmonious working of the constitution depends on the union of policy between the empire and Prussia, for it is the power of Prussia which gives strength to the empire. This was practically secured by the fact that the emperor, who is king of Prussia, appoints the chancellor, and the chancellor is generally president of the Prussian ministry as well as minister of foreign affairs--in his person the government of the two is identified. For twenty years the double office was held by Bismarck, who, supported as he was by the absolute confidence of the emperor, and also of the allied princes, held a position greater than that ever attained by any subject in modern Europe since the time of Richelieu. For ten months in 1873 he, indeed, resigned the office of minister-president to Roon; and in the same way Caprivi, during the years 1893-1894, held the chancellorship alone; but in neither case was the experiment successful, and Hohenlohe and Bulow adhered to the older plan. So important is the practical co-operation of the imperial administration and the Prussian government, that it has become customary to appoint to seats in the Prussian ministry the more important of the secretaries of state who administer imperial affairs under the chancellor. Delbruck, head of the imperial chancery, had

held this position since 1868; in 1877 Bulow, secretary of state for foreign affairs, was appointed Prussian minister, and this has become the ordinary practice. One result of this is to diminish the control which the Prussian parliament is able to maintain over the Prussian ministry.

In the federal council Prussian policy nearly always prevails, for though Prussia has only seventeen votes out of fifty-eight, the smaller states of the North nearly always support her; practically she controls the vote of Waldeck and since 1885 those of Brunswick. A definite defeat of Prussia on an important question of policy must bring about a serious crisis; it is generally avoided because, as the meetings are secret, an arrangement or compromise can be made. Bismarck, knowing that nothing would more impede the consolidation of the empire than an outbreak of local patriotism, always so jealous of its rights, generally used his influence to avoid constitutional disputes, and discouraged the discussion of questions which would require an authoritative interpretation of the constitution. It was, however, opposition in the Bundesrat which obliged him to abandon his scheme for imperial railways, and when, in 1877, it was necessary to determine the seat of the new supreme court of justice, the proposal of the government that Berlin should be chosen was out-voted by thirty to twenty-eight in favour of Leipzig. On this occasion Bismarck accepted the decision, but when important interests were at stake he showed himself as ready to crush opposition as in the older days, as in the case of Hamburg and Bremen.

The great personal qualities of the reigning emperors and the widely extended family connexions of the house of Hohenzollern have enabled them to hold with ease their position as leaders among the ruling families. So far as is known, with one or two unimportant exceptions, the other princes loyally accepted their new position. It is only as regards the house of Brunswick that the older dynastic questions still have some political importance.


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