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That's correct, which is why I specified "done via the ballot box" - the Nazis were never elected to govern Germany. Everything they did was technically legal, with the Reichstag being bullied into compliance with the Enabling Act. What I was thinking was more along the lines of a Republican presidential candidate "winning" an election, being inaugurated through the normal Constitutional methods, and then dismantling democracy soon thereafter.

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Mon Nov 22nd, 2010 at 12:10:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Montereyan:
the Nazis were never elected to govern Germany
Hitler became Chancellor lawfully after his party won the parliamentary election.

You're projecting the US' Presidential system on a Parliamentary system. Please don't do that.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 22nd, 2010 at 12:16:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand the distinction and the timeline well. My comments are coming from a strand of German historiography that I was trained in, that rejects the view that the Nazis were "elected" to govern Germany and instead emphasizes the undemocratic, if lawful, nature of their seizure of power. Things get complicated, obviously, because one also doesn't want to use the results to say Germans didn't support Hitler or his party; 33.1% of the vote is pretty significant.

The Nazis may have won a plurality at the November 1932 election, but it was far from a majority. Since President Hindenburg and Franz von Papen refused to include any of the left parties in a government - particularly the SPD - they kept casting about for a suitable chancellor, and settled on Hitler only when they had no other options, and only when von Papen was able to convince Hindenburg he could keep Hitler under control.

Even then the Reichstag had the votes to block the Enabling Act a month or so later, but because the power of the state was used to bully the Reichstag members - especially Centre Party members - into backing it, it's hard to say it was truly fair.

My original comments may have lacked specificity, but they were actually intended to highlight the differences between the parliamentary and presidential systems. In Germany in 1932-33, one couldn't say that the Nazis were "elected" to govern, but they wound up doing so through lawful means. If the US were to see a similar seizure of power, the presidential system we have means that if a President Teabag can claim victory through lawful means, then it provides a more powerful mandate and argument of legitimacy than anything Hitler had, and makes it difficult to counter. Perhaps that comparison is rough and inexact, but I stand by it.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Tue Nov 23rd, 2010 at 10:19:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Montereyan:
My comments are coming from a strand of German historiography that I was trained in, that rejects the view that the Nazis were "elected" to govern Germany and instead emphasizes the undemocratic, if lawful, nature of their seizure of power.
With all due respect and as a non-historian, that's just self-serving historiography on the part of the Germans.

Seriously, the largest party in two elections in a row on the same year, scoring more than 30% both times and with the second party at least 10% away, and historiographers claim that Hitler didn't have a democratic claim to power while giving von Papen and the DNVP (which was openly opposed to the Weimer Republic itself throughout its short history) legitimacy...

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 23rd, 2010 at 10:25:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Nazis may have won a plurality at the November 1932 election, but it was far from a majority. Since President Hindenburg and Franz von Papen refused to include any of the left parties in a government - particularly the SPD - they kept casting about for a suitable chancellor, and settled on Hitler only when they had no other options, and only when von Papen was able to convince Hindenburg he could keep Hitler under control.

The KPD and NSDAP had fifty percent of the vote between them (down from 52% in the previous elections). The DNVP had 8.5%.  The BVP, which other than its Catholicism and anti-centralism was very similar in attitudes to the DNVP, had 3.1%.  How do you get a pro-democracy coalition with those numbers, given that this is the pre-Popular Front era KPD with absolutely zero interest in supporting a democratic government even as a short term tactical measure?  Making Hitler chancellor was, on the numbers, what you'd expect in a PR style democratic parliamentary system of government.

You also need to understand what the Hindenburgs and von Papens wanted, that is the destruction of democracy and the imposition of a traditional style reactionary dictatorship run by the old elites.  

I agree that the way in which the NSDAP obtained its two thirds majority for the enabling law was not democratic, but at the same time, lets not lose sight of the fact that in two fully democratic elections in a row, the German electorate had given over three fifths of its vote to parties which explicitly said that democracy is a very bad thing that needs to be abolished, and that among those over forty percent were voting for a right wing dictatorship.  Furthermore, even without intimidation there was a minority of the Centre party that while not opposed to democracy on principle, wasn't made up of principled democrats either.

by MarekNYC on Tue Nov 23rd, 2010 at 11:49:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If president Teabag is elected in a three-candidate race where a spoiler manages to carry at least his or her own state, and the president is elected through a deal in the electoral college, then you have a similar situation regarding legitimacy.

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by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 23rd, 2010 at 04:13:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I was thinking was more along the lines of a Republican presidential candidate "winning" an election, being inaugurated through the normal Constitutional methods, and then dismantling democracy soon thereafter.

That's exactly what happened in Germany.  They won the largest share of the vote in fully democratic elections in Nov. 1932, formed a coalition with the ultrareactionaries of the DNVP, called another election, this time filled with considerable intimidation, including the arrest of leading communists, and did better, but didn't get a majority. However, at this point all the KPD Reichstag members were under arrest, as were some of the SPD ones, leaving the NSDAP-DNVP coalition with a large effective majority.  They then proceeded to cajole and coerce the Center(Catholic) party into voting for a law abolishing democracy.  End of story.

by MarekNYC on Mon Nov 22nd, 2010 at 12:29:28 PM EST
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