Bismarck developed manufacturing industries in Germany. During his reign, the production of coal increased which led to the generation of power for industrial development. Chemical industries, steel production and engineering were among the industries that were developed to generate employment opportunities and revenue which enabled Bismarck to overcome Germany’s economic challenge after 1871.
Bismarck as Chancellor of the united German Empire established a new constitution for Germany in 1871. By this constitution, Germany was to have a parliament with two assemblies, namely the Bundesrat and the Reichstag. The Bundestrat was dominated by the rulers of the different German states (federal states) and this body had powers to make laws that governed Germany. The Reichstag on the other hand was an assembly elected by universal adult suffrage to debate any suggestions in the laws made by the Bundestrat. These were democratic assemblies and through them Bismarck was able to introduce laws which granted freedom to the people. Bismarck therefore promoted constitutional rule in Germany which helped in peace and stability in the country.
Bismarck allowed political pluralism in Germany after 1871. In the German parliament that was established in 1871, there were different political parties which had members representing them. For example, there were members of the National Liberal Party, the Catholic Center Party, the Conservative Party and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In addition, there was a lot of freedom for the candidates of these political parties to stand for elections to go to the parliament. Therefore, parliamentary democracy was highly promoted in Germany during Bismarck’s reign which helped to promote stability in the country.
Bismarck increased the national income of Germany. Besides the development of mining and other related industries, Bismarck established a tariff system by which he charged taxes on imports. This protected the German manufacturers from competition with the foreign goods as well as raising income for Germany. This enabled Bismarck to address some of the domestic challenges that the German Empire faced after 1871.
Bismarck built a powerful army for Germany. He strengthened the German army by recruiting, training and motivating the soldiers. He also put a compulsory military conscription law by which all the young Germans were recruited into the army. As a result, the German army became one of the strongest armies in the world. Using this strong army, Bismarck ensured relative peace in Germany between 1871 and 1890 and this was a major strength of Bismarck.
Bismarck checked the influence of the Catholics in Germany. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 – 1871, the Catholics in Germany started destabilizing the administration of Bismarck. For example, through their political party known as the Center Party, they opposed the policies of Bismarck. In 1872, Bismarck passed the May Laws by which the state abolished the control of education by the Catholic Church as well as the legalization of civil marriage among other issues. In addition, Bismarck imprisoned thousands of catholic priests who had protested against the May laws of 1872. By doing so, he managed to check on the influence of the Catholic Church for some time.
Bismarck also checked on the spread of socialism in Germany. The socialists were greatly opposed to Bismarck’s policies and they wanted state ownership of property and improved working conditions. The socialists were so strong in the Reichstag that they even wanted to capture political power. Bismarck introduced the Exceptional Law of 1878 by which he limited the spread of socialism in Germany. For example, the Social Democratic Party and its activities were banned, socialist newspapers were abolished and the party leaders were imprisoned while others were exiled. By taking these measures, Bismarck attempted to reduce the influence of socialism in Germany.
Bismarck ended the opposition of the liberals in the German parliament. The liberals under their National Liberal Party opposed Bismarck’s policy of protective tariffs because they wanted free trade. Bismarck was a conservative aristocrat who never liked the influence of the liberals. He therefore launched a campaign against them. With support of the Catholics in the parliament, Bismarck passed a law to reduce the liberal opposition and therefore successfully implemented his protectionist policy which safeguarded the German manufactured goods from competition.
Bismarck kept a divided opposition in Germany between 1871 and 1890. Although, there were different political parties that greatly opposed Bismarck, he could use one or two political parties to reduce the opposition from another which kept them divided all the time. For example, he used the Center Party of the Catholics who gave him support in the German parliament to defeat the liberals who had opposed his policy of protectionism. This therefore helped Bismarck to reduce the German opposition and maintain peace and stability in the country up to 1890 when he resigned.
Bismarck made financial reforms in Germany. He built banks throughout Germany to assist the commercial and industrial sectors through credit extension. For example, he established the German Imperial Bank in 1875. In addition, a common or uniform currency was introduced in the whole of Germany. These reforms helped to improve the financial sector which led to the economic development of Germany.
Bismarck improved on the judicial system of Germany. He introduced courts of law all over the country which extended justice to all the Germans without discrimination. In addition, uniform laws were introduced for the whole of Germany and as a result all the Germans got a fair hearing in the courts of law regardless of their origin or position in the society. This further promoted peace and stability in Germany.
Bismarck reconciled with the opposition in Germany so as to reduce the enmity against his government. For example, although he hated the socialists and used harsh measures like arresting of their leaders and banning of their newspapers, he later introduced a compulsory insurance scheme for the workers against sickness, accidents and the old age pension scheme. Because of these measures, Bismarck improved on the conditions of the workers in Germany which helped to reduce the opposition from the socialists. Similarly, Bismarck withdrew some of the harsh laws that he had established against the Catholic Church i.e. the May laws of 1872. By these laws, the state was to train, license and recruit priests among other aspects and this generated opposition which led to the imprisonment of the clergy and other ordinary Catholics. Following their support in the defeat of the liberals, much of the old power of the Catholic Church was restored although Bismarck maintained state inspection of the catholic schools and civil marriage as an alternative to the Catholic Church marriage. This reconciliation by Bismarck with the opposition helped to create peace and stability in Germany.
He maintained and controlled a united German Empire which was composed of different races. The new German empire was composed of the Germans, French, Danes and Poles. The foreigners were a big threat to Bismarck but he was able to absorb them into the German Empire which created peace and stability in Germany between 1871 and 1890.