1912 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 12 January 1912.[2] Although the Social Democratic Party (SPD) had received the most votes in every election since 1890, it had never won the most seats, and in the 1907 elections, it had won fewer than half the seats won by the Centre Party despite receiving over a million more votes.[3] However, the 1912 elections saw the SPD retain its position as the most voted-for party and become the largest party in the Reichstag, winning 110 of the 397 seats.[4]

1912 German federal election

← 1907 12 January 1912 (1912-01-12) 1919 →

All 397 seats in the Reichstag
199 seats needed for a majority
Turnout84.9% Increase 0.2 pp
  First party Second party Third party
  August Bebel c1900.jpg
Georg von Hertling (cropped).jpeg Portrait of Ernst Bassermann.jpg
Leader August Bebel
& Hugo Haase
Georg von Hertling Ernst Bassermann
Party SPD Centre NLP
Leader since 21 November 1892
& 1911
1909 1898
Last election 43 seats 105 seats 54 seats
Seats won 110 91 45
Seat change Increase67 Decrease14 Decrease9
Popular vote 4,250,400 1,996,800 1,662,700
Percentage 34.8% 16.4% 13.6%
Swing Increase5.8% Decrease3.0% Decrease0.9%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Ernst von Heydebrand und der Lasa by E. Bieber.jpg Otto Fischbeck LCCN2014714907.jpg Ferdynand Radziwiłł c1914.jpg
Leader Ernst von Heydebrand und der Lasa Otto Fischbeck Ferdynand Radziwiłł
Leader since 1911 6 March 1910 1889
Last election 60 seats 49 seats[1] 20 seats
Seats won 43 42 18
Seat change Decrease17 Decrease7 Decrease2
Popular vote 1,126,300 1,497,000 441,600
Percentage 9.2% 12.3% 3.6%
Swing Decrease0.2% Increase1.4% Decrease0.3%

Karte der Reichstagswahlen 1912.svg
Results of the 1912 Reichstag election.

President of the Reichstag before election

Hans Graf von Schwerin-Löwitz

Elected President of the Reichstag

Johannes Kaempf

Parties hostile or ambivalent to the ruling elites of the German Empire – the Social Democrats, the Centre Party, and the left-liberal Progressives – together won a majority of the seats. This allowed a successful vote of no confidence in the government of Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg over the Saverne Affair in 1913 and the Reichstag Peace Resolution of 1917. However, the Centre and the Progressives were unwilling to act consistently in opposition, which left the government largely free to do as it wished.

Some historians, such as Fritz Fischer, have theorized that the First World War was partly a result of the strategy of the conservative Prussian Junkers to deal with the result.[5] In an attempt to increase support for conservative parties and policies and to distract the population from the SPD, they hoped to drum up patriotism in an external conflict with Russia or another Eastern European state such as Serbia.

Georges Weill, an SPD candidate who won a seat in Metz, defected to France at the start of World War I.


Social Democratic Party4,250,39934.82+5.88110+67
Centre Party1,988,50416.29−2.5090−11
National Liberal Party1,651,11513.53−1.2745−11
Progressive People's Party1,448,09711.86+1.2041−9
German Conservative Party1,006,5708.25−1.1641−18
German Reich Party396,9483.25−0.9414−10
Independent Polish246,2752.02−0.11100
Agrarian League165,0341.35+0.185−2
Alsace-Lorraine parties148,2021.21−0.119−2
Christian Social Party104,2190.85+0.3330
Polish Catholic Party93,6290.77+0.334+1
German-Hanoverian Party90,1680.74−0.085+3
Polish People's Party81,1400.66−0.133−1
Independent conservatives74,3230.61+0.184+4
German Social Party73,1690.60−0.183−5
German Reform Party60,7580.50−0.523−3
Independent liberals53,9390.44−0.320−3
Bavarian Peasants' League48,2190.39+0.022+2
Peasants League41,3520.34New2New
Democratic Union29,4440.24New0New
Middle Class parties27,0950.22−0.440−2
Polish Court Party20,7000.17−0.181−1
Danish Party17,2890.140.0010
Lorraine Land Party7,0390.06−0.1400
Lithuanian Party6,2270.05+0.0100
Independent anti-semites1,6040.01−0.1300
Other conservatives1,0810.01−0.0300
Other agrarians4,0270.03−0.240−1
Valid votes12,207,63299.57
Invalid/blank votes53,0990.43
Total votes12,260,731100.00
Registered voters/turnout14,442,38784.89
Source: Wahlen in Deutschland


Social Democratic Party110,69531.75+8.005+3
Alsace-Lorraine Center Party96,64627.72+0.7570
Independent Lorraine Party36,33610.42−3.702−1
Alsace-Lorraine protesters15,2204.37+2.080−1
Centre Party13,7153.93−8.690−1
German Reich Party7,3732.11+0.650−1
Lorraine Land Party7,0392.02−4.4700
Valid votes348,65498.36
Invalid/blank votes5,8071.64
Total votes354,461100.00
Registered voters/turnout417,70184.86
Source: Wahlen in Deutschland


  1. ^ Merger of the Free-minded People's Party (28 seats), Free-minded Union (14), and German People's Party (7).
  2. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p762 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  3. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, pp. 774–789
  4. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p789
  5. ^ Fischer, Fritz (1961). Germany's Aims in the First World War. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-09798-6.