Reichstag (German Empire)

The Reichstag (German: [ˈʁaɪçstaːk] (listen), Diet of the Realm[1] or Imperial Diet) was the Parliament of Germany from 1871 to 1918. Legislation was shared between the Reichstag and the Bundesrat, which was the Imperial Council of the reigning princes of the German States.


Deutscher Reichstag
Legislative body of Germany
Preceded byNorth German Reichstag
Succeeded byWeimar National Assembly
Seats397 (at dissolution)
Two-round system with
limited[inconsistent] suffrage
First election
3 March 1871
Last election
12 January 1912
Meeting place
Leipziger Straße 4, Berlin
Constitution of the German Empire
The Reichstag in 1889

The Reichstag had no formal right to appoint or dismiss governments, but by contemporary standards it was considered a highly modern and progressive parliament. All German men over 25 years of age were eligible to vote, and members of the Reichstag were elected by general, universal and secret suffrage. Members were elected in single-member constituencies by majority vote using the two-round system. If no candidate received a majority of the votes, a runoff election took place. In 1871, the Reichstag consisted of 382 members, but from 1874 it was enlarged to 397 members.[2]

The term of office was initially set at three years, and in 1888 this was extended to five years. The Reichstag was opened once a year by the Emperor. In order to dissolve parliament, the approval of the Imperial Council and the emperor were required. Members of parliament enjoyed legal immunity and indemnity.

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