Reichstag election 1920

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1919Reichstag election 1920May 1924
(in %)
Z / BVP b
Gains and losses
compared to 1919
 % p
Z / BVP b
Template: election chart / maintenance / notes
b 1919 as CVP
A total of 459 seats

The Reichstag election of June 6, 1920 was the second election during the Weimar Republic and the first for a regular German Reichstag . The Weimar coalition lost its majority. The SPD had to accept very heavy losses, mainly due to the nationwide organization of the competing USPD, which has improved significantly compared to the previous year. The left-liberal DDP even lost more than half of its percentage result. Regarding the numbers for the Center Party (Z) , it should be noted that the BVP started in Bavaria instead of this .

The loss of the majority for the parties of the Weimar coalition , which unreservedly supported the republic, was, as it turned out, permanent.


KPD poster for the 1920 Reichstag elections, caricatures are Hugo Stinnes (far left), Hans von Seeckt (2nd from left) and Gustav Noske (?, 3rd from left)

Although the first regular Reichstag election was not scheduled for autumn 1920, as it was then clear in most of the voting areas whether they would remain part of the German Reich or not, the government under Chancellor Hermann Müller bowed to the demands of the right for the end of the Kapp- Coups to hold the election at an earlier date. As a result, the elections in the voting areas remaining in Germany had to be rescheduled. They took place on February 20, 1921 in the constituencies of East Prussia and Schleswig-Holstein and on November 19, 1922 in the Opole constituency .

The Kapp Putsch and its consequences - such as the Ruhr uprising , but also the Treaty of Versailles and the tax reform - had a considerable influence on the outcome of the election. These events caused radicalization in the left camp; the left criticized the state-supporting parties for strengthening the forces of reaction. In the middle class, the internal unrest led to a longing for authoritarian structures and a turn to the right-wing parties. The right accused the Weimar coalition of having violated national honor and property interests.


In the election, the Weimar coalition, as the actual bearer of the republic, lost its majority. The subsequent elections should show that this was a permanent development. Politically, the forces that had not supported the class compromise of 1919 had won. The losses were greatest at the MSPD and the DDP . The moderate Social Democrats received only 21.6% of the vote instead of 37.9%, although they still represented the strongest parliamentary group, alongside the USPD with a greater lead over the strongest conservative force, the DNVP. The DDP fell from 18.5% to 8.3%. The losses were lower at the Center Party , which, compared to the last election, no longer formed an alliance with the BVP .

The turnout was about 4 percentage points lower than in the National Assembly election .

The right and left parties benefited from the losses. The German People's Party received 13.9% of the vote (after 4.4% in 1919). The DNVP increased from 13.3% to 15.1%. On the left side of the political spectrum, the USPD, as a direct competitor to the ruling party MSPD, improved significantly from 7.6% to 17.9%. The first-time candidate KPD received 2.1%. Overall, the anti-republic or at least critical parties DVP, DNVP, USPD and KPD received 49% of the vote. Only one year after the revolution of 1918 , a large part of the population was at least aloof from the new state.

The reconstruction of the voter migration shows that the MSPD mainly lost votes to the USPD. The losses of the MSPD and the gains of the USPD in large cities were particularly severe . The MSPD also suffered losses in the countryside. In East Prussia, where the 1921 elections were rescheduled, some of the farm workers who had voted for the SPD in 1919 now voted for the DNVP. In the middle-class camp, numerous voters from the DDP switched to the DVP. Anton Erkelenz brought the voting behavior to a plastic formula: In 1919 the membership card of the DDP was valid as a " life insurance policy for the feared Bartholomew's Night"; In 1920, on the other hand, a DVP membership card served as an “ insurance policy against the division of assets”.

Results and regional distribution

With 35.949 million eligible voters, 28.196 million valid votes were cast. The turnout was 79.2%.

With regard to regional party preference, a heterogeneous picture emerged from constituency to constituency. Seven parties became the strongest force in at least one constituency. The SPD received the most votes in eleven constituencies, including Northern Germany and Lower Silesia, while the USPD achieved its best results in Central Germany. The center was strongest in predominantly Catholic areas such as the Rhineland and Upper Silesia , and in Bavaria the Bavarian People's Party . The strongholds of the DNVP were in Pomerania and East Prussia . The DVP won two constituencies. In the constituency of East Hanover , one regional party won the most votes, namely the German-Hanover Party (DHP).

After the election, the Reichstag was composed as follows (after the by-elections):

Political party Votes
(in percent)
(in percentage points)
to 1919
Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) 6,179,991 21.9% −16.0% 103 −60
Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) 4,971,220 17.6% + 10.3% 83 +61
German National People's Party (DNVP) 4,249,100 15.1% + 4.8% 71 +27
German People's Party (DVP) 3,919,446 13.9% + 9.5% 65 +46
German Center Party (Center) 3,845,001 13.6% −6.1% 1 64 −27
German Democratic Party (DDP) 2,333,741 8.3% −10.2% 39 −36
Bavarian People's Party (BVP) 1,238,604 4.4% - 1 21st +21
Communist Party of Germany - Spartakusbund (KPD) 589.454 2.1% - 4th +4
German-Hanoverian Party (DHP) 319.108 1.1% + 0.9% 5 +4
Bavarian farmers' union 218,596 0.8% −0.1% 4th ± 0
Others 332.071 1.2% + 0.55% 0 ± 0
total 28.196.332 99.5% 459 +38

1) The number of votes of 19.7% as a comparative figure from the election to the German National Assembly in 1919 applies jointly to the Center and the BVP.

Government formation

After the election, the Reichstag met for the first time on June 24, 1920. The unclear political situation led to lengthy negotiations about the formation of a government. Finally, a bourgeois minority cabinet consisting of the DDP, DVP and the center came about after the DVP had promised to act on the basis of the Weimar constitution . The new government differed from the previous government in that it added the DVP, which had gained by far the most among the bourgeoisie, instead of the SPD. The SPD refused to participate in the government because it no longer wanted to take responsibility for unpopular measures towards its voters. Another aspect was that the party did not want to work with the DVP, which had carried out an emphatically anti-social democratic election campaign and represented large industrial interests. Reich President Friedrich Ebert appointed Constantin Fehrenbach from the center as Reich Chancellor. The government, in which the SPD was not involved, was dependent on their tolerance.

See also


  • Heinrich August Winkler : Weimar 1918–1933. The history of the first German democracy. Revised edition. Beck, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-44037-1 .
  • Ludger Grevelhörster: A short history of the Weimar Republic. 1918-1933. An overview of the problem history. 4th edition, special edition. Aschendorff, Münster 2003, ISBN 3-402-05363-2 ( Aschendorff Paperbacks ).

Individual evidence

  1. The German Empire. Reichstag election 1920/22 Andreas Gonschior.
  2. The German Empire. Election to the National Assembly 1919 Andreas Gonschior.
  3. Detlef Lehnert: The Weimar Republic . Reclam jun., Philipp, Verlag GmbH; 2nd Edition. 2009; ISBN 978-3-15-018646-6 ; P. 140.

Web links