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Results of the 1912 Reichstag election.

The 13th German election of 1912 is most notable for the major breakthrough of the leftist Social Democratic Party (SPD, Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands), which for the first time became the largest party in the German Reichstag. It more than doubled its seat total from the 1907 election.

The party breakdown in the 1912 Reichstag made possible a majority coalition of groups hostile or at ambivalent to the ruling elites of the German Empire – the Social Democrats, the Catholic Centre, and the left-liberal Progressives between them commanded a majority. The effects of this possibility would be seen with the vote of no confidence in the government of Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg over the Zabern Affair in 1913 and the Reichstag Peace Resolution of 1917. Nonetheless, the Centre and the Progressives were unwilling to act consistently in opposition, leaving the government largely free to do as it wished.

Some historians, such as Fritz Fischer have theorized that World War I was partially a result of the strategy of the conservative Prussian Junkers to deal with this result. In an attempt to drum up support for conservative parties and policies, to distract the population from the SPD they hoped to drum up patriotism in an external conflict with Russia or another east European state such as Serbia. Other authors, such as Niall Ferguson, feel that German conservatives were ambivalent about a war, worrying that losing a war would have disastrous consequences, and even a successful war might alienate the population if it were lengthy or difficult. See: Causes of World War I for details.

Results

Party Seats
Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) 110
Centre Party
(Zentrum - Political Catholics)
91
National Liberal Party
(NL - National Liberals, right wing Liberals)
45
German Conservative Party
(DKP - Conservatives)
43
Progressive People's Party
(FVP - Liberals, left wing Liberals)
42
Poles
(P - Polish Deputies in Posen, West Prussia and Upper Silesia)
18
Free Conservative Party
(DRP - Conservative Nationalists)
14
Elsass-Lothringer
(A - Lorrainian and Alsatian regionalists in Alsace-Lorraine)
9
German-Hanoverian Party
(DHP - Hanover regionalists)
5
Antisemiten
(AS - Anti-Semites)
3
Peasant's Parties
(BL - Bund der Landwirte, etc.)
7
Independent 2
Dänen
(D - Danish Deputy in Northern Schleswig)
1
Total 397
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