1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Baden, Free State of

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BADEN, FREE STATE OF (see 3.184). — The population of the Free State of Baden, Germany, was, according to the census of 1919, 2,208,503.

Political and Constitutional History. — Baden was, till the revolution of 1918, a constitutional monarchy; the sovereign bore the title of Grand Duke. The Diet (Landtag), which was composed of two Chambers, had indeed the right of legislation and of voting taxation, but the ministers were appointed by the Grand Duke at his own discretion. The government had always been conducted in a liberal spirit; Baden had in Germany the reputation of being the model of a diminutive Liberal country (ein Liberales Musterländle), though the population was preponderatingly Catholic. There was certainly a powerful Clerical minority in the second Chamber of the Diet. When at a general election there was a danger that a Clerical-Conservative majority would be elected, the two Liberal parties (the National Liberals and the Progressists) concluded an alliance for election purposes with the Social Democrats, thus constituting the so-called “grand bloc.” The result was that the Social Democrats held a considerably different position in Baden from that which they occupied in the empire.[1] But in Baden, too, the line was drawn at allowing Socialists to become members of the Government. The Social Democratic party nevertheless endeavoured to place as few difficulties as possible in the path of the Government, and it did not, as elsewhere, vote against the budget. When the World War broke out in 1914, the leader of the Baden Social Democrats, Ludwig Frank, at once enlisted as a volunteer and fell in one of the earliest battles.

The Liberal sympathies of the Baden dynasty were maintained during the war. The heir to the throne, Prince Max of Baden, tried to exercise his influence in favour of a peace by understanding and of Liberal reforms in the internal policy of the empire. When in Oct. 1918 William II. at last decided to agree to the reform of the constitution by which the parliamentary form of government was introduced for the empire, Prince Max was appointed imperial chancellor. It was too late. He could not arrest the progress of the revolution. When the monarchy fell in the empire, it could not be maintained in Baden, although there was in this instance no reason for complaint on the score of misgovernment. On Nov. 10 the revolutionary Provisional Government was formed, containing representatives of the Social Democratic, the two Liberal parties and the Catholic Centre. On Nov. 22 the Grand Duke therefore definitely abdicated, with the assent of the heir to the throne, Prince Max.

The Provisional Government of Baden issued as early as Nov. 20 an ordinance by which elections were instituted for a National and Constituent Assembly.[2] This representative body met on Jan. 15 1919 and at once began to discuss the draft of the constitution which had been submitted to it by the Government. On May 21 1919 the new constitution was passed by the National Assembly. Baden was thus the first German state which put an end to the lawless revolutionary situation. The consequence, it is true, has been that the Baden constitution has in several points been nullified by the constitution of the Reich, which was enacted at a later date; for the independence of the German Territories, as the states united in the Reich are designated, was considerably curtailed by the constitution of the Reich of the year 1919. Nor is there any room in the constitutions of the Territories for provisions regarding the “Fundamental Rights of the People,” since the constitution of the Reich has settled these Fundamental Rights.

Baden in 1921 was a republic with a democratic constitution. The powers of State were actually vested in the Diet (Landtag), which consists of a single Chamber. The Diet does not only possess the right of legislation, but it chooses the ministry and selects from among the ministers the minister-president. He has the title of “President of the State,” but he is not the head of the state, but merely the person who presides over the ministry. The Diet can at any time dismiss the whole ministry or individual members of it. The franchise for the election to the Diet is possessed by all men and women who have completed their twentieth year. There must be a general election every four years. The dissolution of the Diet can be brought about before the end of the legislative period by a vote of the people. Laws can also be passed by a vote of the people, and that in two ways: a law which has been voted by the Diet can be submitted to the vote of the people by the Referendum, if the ministry so decides or if the people itself so demands; secondly, an appeal may be proposed by Popular Initiative. Laws involving an amendment of the constitution must always be submitted to a Popular Referendum. The constitution of Baden has thus a great resemblance to that of the Swiss Confederation; but there is the essential difference that in Baden the Government is dependent upon Parliament. (W. v. B.)


  1. Reich is translated “Empire” when it refers to the Hohenzollern regime; the German word Reich is retained when it refers to the German Federated Commonwealth established after the revolution.
  2. Each of the German states called its Constituent Assembly a “National” Assembly (Nationalversammlung).