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The German parliamentary election of 31 July 1932, held after the premature dissolution of the Reichstag, saw great gains by the Nazi Party, which for the first time became the largest party in parliament, though without winning a majority.

Party Vote percentage (change) Seats (change)
National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) 37.8% +19.0% 230 +123
Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) 21.9% -2.9% 133 -10
Communist Party of Germany (KPD) 14.6% +1.2% 89 +12
Centre Party (Z) 12.3% +0.6% 75 +7
German National People's Party (DNVP) 6.1% -1.1% 37 -4
Bavarian People's Party (BVP) 3.6% +0.2% 22 +3
German People's Party (DVP) 1.2% -3.3% 7 -23
German Democratic Party (DStP) 0.7% -2.8% 4 -16
Christian Social People's Service (CSVD) 0.5% -1.5% 3 -11
Reich Party of the German Middle Class (WP) 0.3% -3.5% 2 -21
German Farmers' Party (DBP) 0.3% -0.6% 2 -4
Agricultural League 0.3% -0.3% 2 -1
German Country Party 0.2% -2.8% 1 -18
Right-Wing People's Party 0.2% -0.7% 1 +1
Other 0.0% -0.3% 0 +/-0
Total 100.0%   608 +38

Contents

Background

Campaigning in front of a polling place in Berlin

Since 1929, Germany was suffering from the Great Depression as unemployment rose from 8.5% to nearly 30% between 1929 and 1932.[1], while industrial production inside Germany dropped roughly 42%.[1]

In 1930, the governing grand coalition of the pro-republican parties - Social Democrats, Centre Party and the two liberal parties - had broken apart. A minority government headed by the Centre Party's Heinrich Brüning governed via the President's emergency powers, as in the elections of 1930 the pro-republican had lost their majority in the Reichstag. These elections also saw Hitler's Nazi Party rise to national prominence.[1] Brüning's policies, implemented via presidential decree and tolerated by parliament, failed to solve the economic crisis while weakening the parliamentary system.

In March 1932, presidential elections pitted the incumbent Field Marshall Hindenburg, supported by pro-republican parties, against Hitler and a Communist candidate. Hitler gained roughly a third of the vote but was defeated in the second round in April by Hindenburg.[1] However, after this victory Hindenburg increasingly moved towards the political right and at the end of May 1932 was persuaded to dismiss Brüning as Chancellor, replacing him with Franz von Papen (a renegade of the Centre Party) and a non-partisan "Cabinet of Barons". Papen's cabinet had almost no support in parliament and only three days after his appointment, when faced with this opposition, had the President dissolve the Reichstag and called for new elections, to be held on 31 July.[2]

The election campaigns was held under violent circumstances, as Papen lifted the ban on the SA, the Nazi paramilitary, which Brüning had banned during the last days of his administration. This inevitably led to clashes with the equally violent Communist paramilitary.

The elections resulted in great gains by the Nazi party, who with 230 seats for the first time became the largest party in parliament. However, the Nazi Party had no governing majority and both President Hindenburg and the other parties refused cooperation. Hence, Papen's minority government continued, leading to another election in November.

Footnotes

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