The Third Chapter: The Reich President and Reich Government
The Reich President or the German head of the state under the Weimar Constitution was elected through a popular vote by the German people who qualified to vote. In order to be eligible to vote, one had to be 20 years of age, and to qualify as a Reich presidential candidate, one has to be 35 years or older. The Weimar Constitution gave the Reich president semi power; the president had to share power with the cabinet (ministers) and the parliament (Reichstag).
The Reich president was responsible for appointing and dismissing the Chancellor and the ministers; the Reichstag did not vote to confirm the ministers or the Chancellor; the Reichstag, however, had the power to pass a vote of no confidence on any minister and on the Chancellor, and if the vote of no confidence is passed, the Chancellor or the minister involved had to resign from his or her position immediately. The Reich president was also subjected for removal from office through a referendum to be determined by the Reichstag. According Article 43 of the Weimar constitution, the Reichstag had the power to dispose a sitting Reich president through a majority vote that required a third members of the Reichstag to vote for the disposition. According to the Reich constitution, if the disposition of the Reich president is passed, the Reich president ceases to be the president; the failure by the Reichstag to pass the disposition of the president signified a re-election of the president, and an immediate dissolution of the Reichstag itself.
The Reich president was required to consult the Reichstag on major issues; the president, however, had the executive power on many important issues without necessarily the obligation to consult with the Reichstag. One example of that executive power was the power of the president to bring in the arm forces on any state of the Reich government that was not fulfilling its obligations laid upon it by the Reich constitution. Now, even though the Reich president had executive power on several issues, the Reichstag had the power to reverse most of the president’s executive decisions. The Reichstag also had the right to accused, to the Supreme Court, the president, the ministers, and the chancellor, of violating the Reich constitution.
Strengths of the Reich President Position:
The Reich president ensures that there is sharing of power; power was not concentrated in the hands on one man, one group, or in the hand of a few elites. The president also ensures that the Reich government continues to function in orderly manner, and since he represented the German people the international communities; he was entitled to create alliances with foreign governments.
The Weaknesses of the Reich President Position:
The Reich president is somehow what the French called a poseur; he was in a position of power, but had no power at all. He had the right to appoint his ministers and chancellor, but these people were subjected to a vote of no confidence by the Reichstag any time; the Reich constitution did not protect them from being removed from office. The president’s fate itself was in the hands of the Reichstag who had the power to dispose him from office. If the Reichstag decided to dispose a sitting president, they were required to obtain a third majority vote for the disposition to be effective. If on the other hand they failed to obtain the third majority, they were required to dissolve immediately; their failure to dispose the president also signified a re-election for the Reich president. Now let’s get real here, if the Reichstag had a chance to actually vote on disposing the president, and knowing that their failure to dispose him meant the end of their political careers (at least for some), what are the probabilities that they were going to fail to dispose the president? I don’t think the Reichstag were going to take a chance to vote in a way that would lead to their dissolution, that’s just human nature.