Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 6.djvu/421
THE CITY COUNCIL OF BERLIN.
WITH the first of January, 1900, the number of the city council in the city of Berlin was increased from 126 to 144 mem- bers. The last increase had taken place in the year 1881, when the number was raised from 108 to 126. A curious difficulty existing in the Municipal Code of 1853 had caused the increase in the membership of the city council to be delayed some years beyond the time when it would otherwise have been made. The law provided, namely, that in subsequent elections of city coun- cilmen the successors should each time be elected in, and chosen for, the same district as the persons whom they succeeded. This was held by the courts, in a series of decisions, to mean that the city councils could not alter the districts within which the mem- bers of the council were chosen ; and, consequently, whenever it was desired to increase the membership of the city council, it was necessary to add to the number of members chosen in the existing districts. As this did not often lead to any fairer distri- bution of members than existed under the previous conditions, city councils were rather slow to increase the number of their members.
The only method by which the membership could be increased, and the districts redivided at the same time, was by a formal dis- solution of the city councils through the act of the government. Such a procedure, however, was always objected to by the city councils, especially by that of Berlin, on the ground that the law provided for the dissolution of the councils only as a disciplinary measure, and that any such dissolution, therefore, must be looked upon as in a certain sense the condemnation of the policy pur- sued by these councils. There was a certain sting in this claim of the city of Berlin, inasmuch as the city council had nearly always been radical in politics, while the supervising authorities, of course, had always been conservative at least, conservative as compared with the radicalism of the city council. But, in spite of this objection, the government dissolved the city council