Saxon State Parliament (1831-1918)

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The Landhaus in Dresden in 1843
The Landhaus in Dresden in 2007

The state parliament was the parliamentary representation in the Kingdom of Saxony from 1831 to 1918 , which consisted of two chambers . The constitution speaks of the state parliament , but official writings also speak of the estates or the assembly of estates . The Saxon State Parliament met in the country house in Dresden from its first convocation until 1907 , and since then in the Saxon State House .

Made in 1831

After the unrest in the wake of the July Revolution of 1830 , the first constitution for the Kingdom of Saxony was drawn up in 1831 in cooperation with the government and the old parliament . The constitution was promulgated on September 4, 1831 with the title "Constitutional Charter of the Kingdom of Saxony". According to the constitution, the state parliament consisted of two chambers. The presidents of both chambers were appointed by the king. The Landtag was to be convened at least every three years.

Laws and the state budget required the approval of the king and both chambers. The legislative initiative rests solely with the government. A government bill could also be promulgated as a bill if only one chamber was against it, while the other had approved it with a two-thirds majority .

The electoral law was passed on September 24, 1831.

Composition of the I. Chamber

Chamber I roughly represented the composition of the old parliament. Members were:

This composition ensured a conservative majority. However, the First Chamber was not inclined to follow all the wishes of the government, but represented the interests of the property owners.

Composition of Chamber II

  • 20 members of the manor owners. The election took place in the knighthood of the old Saxon circles and the knighthood of the Saxon Upper Lusatia.
  • 25 city deputies
  • 25 members of the peasant class
  • 5 representatives of trade and factories

As a result, agrarian interests were overrepresented as Saxony was heavily urbanized and industrialized.

The members of the second chamber were elected for the duration of three state parliaments, at the end of each state parliaments a third resigned. The king had the right to dissolve the Second Chamber and to order new elections.

The deputies of the cities and the peasant class were determined by indirect elections in separate constituencies. A census was used.

Suffrage reform in 1848 and reintroduction of the old suffrage in 1850

In the pre-March period , changes were demanded by the liberal and radical democratic sides, and in the revolution of 1848 the government also promised them. The old state parliament met again and passed a constitution- amending provisional electoral law of November 15, 1848 . The elections to the Second Chamber took place in 75 constituencies as direct elections. All economically independent men of legal age were entitled to vote. The minimum age for the candidates was 30 years. In addition to the royal princes, the First Chamber included 50 members directly elected in constituencies. Candidates had to own real estate and pay at least 10 thalers in direct state taxes. New elections for half of the members of both chambers took place at each state parliament. Now the chambers also took the initiative.

The first elections under this right to vote were held in the winter of 1848/49. The state parliament was opened on January 17, 1849. The radical Democrats had an overwhelming majority in both chambers. The liberals were in the minority, conservative MPs were rare. A cooperation with the Saxon Ministry as a whole was not possible. The state parliament rose to utopian projects and lost itself in questions of rules of procedure. The liberal Karl Biedermann even spoke of an incomprehensible state parliament . Both chambers were dissolved on April 30th. This triggered the Dresden May Uprising , which was put down militarily after a few days.

See the list of members of the Saxon State Parliament in 1849 .

The new elections now required dragged on into November. Unpopular candidates were prevented from running by the government. There was a strong liberal majority in both chambers, which in turn did not want to work with the government and demanded a real parliamentarization of the monarchy. One speaks commonly of the resistance state parliament . The government therefore prematurely dissolved this state parliament on June 1, 1850. The Landtag of 1848, which was still composed according to the old electoral law, was convened again. The government justified this procedure by referring to the fact that the state parliament itself had described the electoral law created in 1848 as only provisional. However, the state parliament retained the right to initiate legislation.

In the communications on the negotiations of the Landtag, Chamber II , the verbal minutes of the meetings from January 15, 1849 in preparation for the constitution to the 57th public meeting on April 27, 1849 were published on 1270 pages. A subject index on the negotiation topics also appeared.

Suffrage reform 1868

The cooperation between the state parliament and the government continued to be unsatisfactory, however, as the state parliament often took a more conservative stance than the government. In 1861 the government proposed reform of the electoral law. The number of representatives of the trade and manufacturing industry was increased to 10.

With the victory of Prussia in the German War in 1866, Saxony was accepted into the North German Confederation . This made a reform of the constitution and administration necessary, which dragged on until 1874. The national unification gave liberalism a boost. This was taken into account in Saxony by a change in the electoral law that came into force on December 3, 1868.

The composition of Chamber I remained essentially unchanged. The king was given the right to choose five other members for life at his own discretion.

80 constituencies were formed for the second chamber, each of which sent one representative. Whoever received the relative majority of the votes was elected. All men who were 25 years old and who paid at least 1 thaler in direct state taxes had the right to vote. Candidates had to be 30 years old and pay 10 thalers in taxes. About 10% of the male subjects now had the right to vote. However, the division into 35 urban and 45 rural constituencies caused a distortion.

MPs were elected for six years. Elections to a third of the seats were held every two years. The state budget was decided every two years.

The President of Chamber II has now been elected by the Chamber itself.

Information on the members of the First and Second Chamber, the rules governing the proceedings and the verbal minutes of the meetings from December 4, 1871 to November 21, 1872 can be found in the communications on the negotiations of the Ordinary State Parliament in the Kingdom of Saxony during the years 1871–1872 on about 1200 pages. The minutes of the meetings from November 27, 1872 to March 8, 1873 can be found in the subsequent communications .

The three-class suffrage of 1896

Liberal supremacy in the Saxon state parliament ended with the elections in 1881. Since then there has been a conservative majority again. The conservative state association under Paul Mehnert was decisive . There was also a national-liberal and a left-liberal parliamentary group - roughly equally strong.

Due to the economic boom and the introduction of new direct taxes (income tax from 1879) more and more men were eligible to vote, so that the number of Social Democratic MPs increased. At the same time, the discrepancy with the Reichstag electoral law, through which the Social Democrats received over 50 percent of the Saxon votes and at times all of the Saxon Reichstag mandates, became increasingly serious.

The Social Democrats were underrepresented in the state parliament. This was also possible because conservatives and liberals pursued a cartel policy and came together against social democratic MPs. Nevertheless, the SPD finally achieved a total of 15 state parliament mandates.

Therefore, the bourgeois parties got together and in 1896 decided to introduce three-class voting rights based on the Prussian model. The SPD held numerous mass events against this deterioration in voting rights; Criticism also grew louder and louder from the bourgeoisie and ultimately even from the conservative side. It turned out that the class electoral system around 1900 no longer met with acceptance and could not provide legitimation (it is no coincidence that the three-class electoral system in Prussia was generally considered outdated and in need of reform).

The deputies were now elected in three classes and indirectly. In the lowest, III. Every census did not take place, so that the total number of eligible voters increased.

A general renewal of the members of the Second Chamber did not take place. The Social Democrats gradually retired until 1901. The Conservatives soon had an overwhelming majority.

Plural suffrage from 1909

The composition of the Second Chamber reflected less and less the situation in the country. The two liberal factions were dissatisfied and allied themselves with the Social Democrats in calling for an electoral reform. The Social Democrats carried out mass events of previously unknown proportions. The government saw the situation as untenable, as it was at the mercy of the Conservative Party. This was dominated by a small group that mainly pursued agricultural interests. The Conservative State Association used the Agricultural Credit Association as an effective means of asserting its interests in the conservative camp.

In order to get out of this impasse, King Friedrich August III. 1906 Count Wilhelm von Hohenthal as Minister of the Interior . He submitted a draft to the state parliament, which was discussed until 1909. The government draft was completely changed.

The election law of May 5, 1909 granted the right to vote to every man who was 25 years old and who paid Saxon state taxes. Candidates had to be at least 30 years old. Under certain conditions, voters could cast additional votes. Additional votes were granted: men aged at least 50 years; Men who had a higher education (qualification for one year of voluntary military service ); Men with high incomes and possessions, with up to three additional votes depending on income and property levels. The number of constituencies was increased to 91. For the first time, runoff elections were planned because the candidates had to achieve 50% of the vote. The electoral term lasted six years.

In the elections of 1909, voter turnout soared to over 82%. The Social Democrats won 25 seats, the Conservatives 28, the National Liberals 28, the Anti-Semites 2 and the Liberals 8.

In the years up to 1918, the Liberals set the tone in Chamber II. However, their effectiveness was limited by the government and the conservative First Chamber. The reform-minded interior minister Hohenthal died in 1909. A sign of the new situation was the cooperation of the liberals and social democrats in 1911/12 in drafting a new elementary school law, which, however, could not be enforced against the government and the First Chamber.

During the First World War , the state parliament of Saxony also followed the truce policy. New elections were postponed until after the war. After the SPD split, there were three USPD MPs in Chamber II.

Revolution 1918

Since 1917, far-reaching reforms of the constitution and the right to vote have also been worked on in Saxony. The composition of the First Chamber was to be changed so that industry and workers were represented. The rights of the First Chamber should also be curtailed. The chairman of the entire ministry should receive the title of prime minister and depend on the confidence of the state parliament. In the spring of 1918, Chamber II demanded universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage. However, the state parliament and government were unable to agree on any reform.

Liberal and Social Democratic ministers were appointed in October 1918, but their term of office soon ended with the November Revolution . The reform projects they had submitted to the state parliament had become irrelevant. Both chambers of the state parliament stopped their work.

Working method

In addition to the state parliaments provided for in the constitution and referred to as ordinary , there were extraordinary state parliaments that were convened for a specific purpose, for example in 1914 to approve war credits. The work in the state parliament was voluntary.

Dismissal of the Saxon assembly of estates on August 21, 1843 by the King of Saxony.

The legislative process usually began with a royal decree to the estates . The two chambers referred this decree to one of their deputations (commissions). The plenary session discussed the results of the deputation negotiations. If the two chambers could not come to an agreement, a mixed commission met. The results of the state parliament negotiations were forwarded to the government in the form of a corporate script . The king gave his approval in the state parliament farewell , which also ordered the closure of the state parliament.

Everyone was allowed to submit petitions to the state parliament, which were discussed in detail.

The government represented its position in the chambers through the ministers, who also represented each other, and through specially appointed royal commissioners (mostly ministerial councilors).

The administration of the national debt did not lie with the government, but with a parliamentary committee.

The MPs could ask questions of the government. The answers were discussed publicly.

Total renewals of the entire state parliament only took place in 1848/49, 1869 and 1909.


The laws passed by the state parliaments were published in the law gazettes. These publication organs had changing names over the years. At the beginning they were called "Collection of laws and ordinances for the Kingdom of Saxony for the year ..." and appeared in the court book printer Carl Christian Meinhold in Dresden. The first years were:

  • Collection of laws and ordinances for the Kingdom of Saxony from the year 1832, 1st to 43rd item, court book printer of CC Meinhold and Sons, Dresden. Repertory in chronological order: pp. III to VII, repertory in alphabetical order: pp. VIII to XXXVI, laws, ordinances and other notices: pp. 1 to 586 (including the ordinance due to the state parliament of 20 February 1832, p. 135. It contains regulations on the elections of the manor owners, “the towns and the peasant class” as well as the naming of “the five representatives of trade and factories”.) Digitized version of the collection of laws
  • Collection of laws and ordinances for the Kingdom of Saxony from the year 1834, 1st to 38th item, Hofbuchdruckerei von CC Meinhold and Sons, Dresden. Repertory in chronological order: pp. III to VIII, repertory in alphabetical order: pp. IX to XXVII, laws, ordinances and other notices: pp. 1 to 540 digitized version of the collection of laws

Individual evidence

  1. Law collection for the Kingdom of Saxony from 1831 to 1stes 53stes piece Hofbuchdrucker CC Meinhold, Dresden, S. 241 Digitalisat
  2. Johann Friedrich Brückner: Law on the election of the representatives to the meetings of the estates to be held in the future; of September 14, 1831, and the ordinance relating to its execution of May 30, 1836, with notes and additions . Verlags-Comptoir, Grimma 1837 digitized version , accessed on February 13, 2016
  3. Officially there was only ever talk of the 1st and 2nd chamber (with Roman numerals), never of the 1st and 2nd chamber (with Arabic numerals)
  4. ^ Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (DAZ) of January 22, 1849, p. 227 f.
  5. Communications on the negotiations of the Landtag, Second Chamber Digitalisat , accessed on April 27, 2015
  6. Eduard Gottwald (ed.): Subject index on the Royal Saxon Landtag negotiations in 1849 and 1850 , Dresden (no year), digitized version , accessed on April 27, 1849
  7. This means taxes that were paid to the Saxon state. The communal taxes and the imperial taxes introduced later were not counted.
  8. ^ Announcements about the negotiations of the ordinary parliament in the Kingdom of Saxony , Dresden 1873 digitized version , accessed on May 1, 2015
  9. ^ Announcements on the negotiations of the ordinary parliament in the Kingdom of Saxony during the years 1871–1873 , Dresden 1873 digitized version , accessed on May 1, 2015
  10. Silke Schöps: From the right to vote to the right to vote. A legal and constitutional historical study on the political participation of women in the context of the bourgeois constitutional state of the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially in Saxony. In: Pastoral care and diakonia in Berlin . DE GRUYTER, Dresden 2017, p. 369-404 .


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