1930 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 14 September 1930.[1] Despite losing ten seats, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) remained the largest party in the Reichstag, winning 143 of the 577 seats, while the Nazi Party (NSDAP) dramatically increased its number of seats from 12 to 107.[2] The Communists also increased their parliamentary representation, gaining 23 seats and becoming the third-largest party in the Reichstag.

1930 German federal election

14 September 1930

All 577 seats in the Reichstag
289 seats needed for a majority
Registered42,982,912 4.3%
Turnout35,224,499 (82.0%) 6.4 pp
  First party Second party Third party
 
Leader Otto Wels Adolf Hitler Ernst Thälmann
Party SPD NSDAP KPD
Leader since 14 June 1919 28 July 1921 October 1925
Last election 153 seats, 29.8% 12 seats, 2.6% 54 seats, 10.6%
Seats won 143 107 77
Seat change 10 95 23
Popular vote 8,575,244 6,379,672 4,590,160
Percentage 24.53% 18.25% 13.13%
Swing 5.23% 15.69% 2.51%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
 
Leader Ludwig Kaas Alfred Hugenberg Ernst Scholz
Party Centre DNVP DVP
Leader since September 1928 1928 1929
Last election 61 seats, 12.1% 73 seats, 14.2% 45 seats, 8.7%
Seats won 68 41 30
Seat change 7 32 15
Popular vote 4,127,000 2,457,686 1,577,365
Percentage 11.81% 7.03% 4.51%
Swing 0.26% 7.22% 3.97%

Constituencies coloured according to the party that received the largest share of the vote.

Chancellor before election

Heinrich Brüning
Centre

Elected Chancellor

None (Brüning remained unelected Chancellor)

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Background

The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) had won the most votes and was the largest party in most elections from 1919 to 1932. They led the coalition government between 1919-1920 and 1928-1930.

After the 1928 German federal election, a grand coalition was formed under the Social Democratic chancellor Hermann Müller. The coalition collapsed on 27 March 1930. President Hindenburg appointed Centre Party politician and academic Heinrich Brüning as chancellor, who formed a minority government.

The new government was confronted with the economic crisis caused by the Great Depression. Brüning disclosed to his associates in the German Labour Federation that his chief aim as chancellor would be to liberate the German economy from the burden of continuing to pay war reparations and foreign debt. This would require an unpopular policy of tight credit and a rollback of all wage and salary increases (an internal devaluation). The Reichstag rejected Brüning's measures within a month, who then used emergency powers to pass it anyway. The Reichstag rejected the emergency decree with 256 votes from the Social Democrats, the Communists, the German National People's Party and the Nazis. Brüning asked Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag, who promptly did so on 18 July 1930. New elections were held on 14 September 1930.

Electoral system

In 1930, Germany was formally a multi-party parliamentary democracy, led by President Paul von Hindenburg (1925–1934). However, beginning in March 1930, Hindenburg only appointed governments without a parliamentary majority which systematically governed by emergency decrees, circumventing the democratically elected Reichstag.

The electoral law awarded one seat in the Reichstag per 60,000 votes. All citizens over 21 could vote through a system of proportional representation, a new parliament was elected every four years to deal with issues related to taxes, trade, defense, etc. The President was directly elected every seven years and was primarily in control of the armed forces, however, he also had significant powers to dissolve the Reichstag, nominate a Chancellor, veto laws, and utilize article 48.

Campaign

In 1930, there were 37 individual parties running for office. Of these parties, only ten secured over 3% of the popular vote. The top five political parties participating in the 1930 election were the following:

Political party Ideology Political position Leader
Communist Party of Germany Communism, Marxism Far-left Ernst Thälmann
National Socialist German Workers Party National Socialism Far-right Adolf Hitler
Social Democratic Party of Germany Social democracy Centre-left Otto Wels
Centre Party Political Catholicism Centre-right Ludwig Kaas
German National People's Party Conservatism, nationalism Right-wing Alfred Hugenberg

The Nazis had increased their share of the vote in state elections since their 1928 federal election result. The SPD designated the "bourgeois block" and the Nazis as their enemies and they and the KPD held rallies in Berlin on 1 August 1930 under the motto "Never again war". Some 30,000 participated in the SPD rally in the Lustgarten and 15,000 in the KPD demonstration at the Winterfeldtplatz. On 23 August, KPD members attacked a Nazi event in Bunzlau. Three people were killed and two seriously injured in fighting with the police. The KPD election campaign climaxed with a rally in the Berlin Sportpalast on 12 September.

Results

The 1930 German election drew 82% voter turn-out, an unprecedented event. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) remained the strongest party and won 143 seats, a loss of 10 seats from the previous election. The National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) rose to become the second largest party with 18.25% of the vote and gained 107 seats, a massive increase from the 12 seats gained in the last election. The only other party to increase its seats was the Communist Party, which won 13.13% of the vote, securing 77 seats, 23 more than in the last election. 34 other political parties shared the remainder of the votes.

Party Votes % Seats +/–
Social Democratic Party8,575,24424.53143–10
National Socialist German Workers' Party6,379,67218.25107+95
Communist Party of Germany4,590,16013.1377+23
Centre Party4,127,00011.8168+7
German National People's Party2,457,6867.0341–32
German People's Party1,577,3654.5130–15
German State Party1,322,0343.7820–5
Reich Party of the German Middle Class1,361,7623.90230
Christian-National Peasants' and Farmers' Party1,108,0433.1719+10
Bavarian People's Party1,058,6373.0319+2
Christian Social People's Service868,2692.4814New
German Farmers' Party339,4340.976–2
Conservative People's Party290,5790.834New
Reich Party for Civil Rights and Deflation/Christian Social Reich Party271,2910.780–2
Agricultural League193,9260.5530
German-Hanoverian Party144,2860.413–1
Christian Social Peoples Community81,5500.230New
Polish People's Party72,9130.2100
Schmalix Greater German List26,7070.080New
House and Property Owners25,5300.0700
Conservative People's Party/German-Hanoverian Party22,2180.060
Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany11,6900.0300
Freibund des Handwerks, Kleinhandels und Gewerbes9,5310.030New
Radical German State Party8,8410.030New
Deutsche Einheitspartei für wahre Volkswirtschaft6,9150.020New
Kriegsbeschädigten- und Hinterbliebenenpartei der deutschen Mannschaft einschließlich der Abgefundenen6,7040.020New
Deutsche Kulturpartei der geistigen Berufe, Angestellten und Beamten6,1810.020New
Handel, Handwerk, Hausbesitz3,6440.010New
Schleswig Club1,7850.0100
Menschheitspartei und neue Volksgemeinschaft1,6260.00New
Evangelical voters1,3260.00New
Party against Alcohol1,1710.00New
Workers Party for Creative Workers9070.00New
Prussian-Lithunanian People's Party6660.00New
Renter and People's Reich Party6530.00New
People's Party of the Lusatian Sorbs2880.00New
Friesland2370.000
Invalid/blank votes268,028
Total35,224,499100.00577+86
Registered voters/turnout42,982,91282.0
Source: Gonschior.de
Popular Vote
SPD
24.53%
NSDAP
18.25%
KPD
13.13%
Zentrum
11.80%
DNVP
7.03%
DVP
4.51%
WP
3.90%
DStP (DDP)
3.78%
CNBL
3.17%
BVP
3.03%
CSVD
2.48%
Other
4.38%
Reichstag seats
SPD
24.78%
NSDAP
18.54%
KPD
13.34%
Zentrum
11.79%
DNVP
7.11%
DVP
5.20%
WP
3.99%
DStP (DDP)
3.47%
BVP
3.29%
CNBL
3.29%
CSVD
2.43%
Other
2.77%

References

  1. Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p762 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. Nohlen & Stöver, p790
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