Germany (Prussia) 1919 Constitution

Table of Contents


Article 20

The Reichstag consists of the deputies of the German People.

Article 21

The deputies are representatives of the whole People. They are subject to only their conscience and are not bound by instructions.

Article 22

The deputies shall be elected by universal, equal, direct and secret election by the men and women over twenty years old in accordance with the principles of proportional representation. The election day must be a Sunday or a public day of rest.

Details shall be prescribed by the Imperial Election Statute.

Article 23

The Reichstag is elected for four years. The new election must take place not later than the sixtieth day after the expiration of the four years.

The Reichstag shall assemble for its first meeting not later than the thirtieth day after the election.

Article 24

The Reichstag shall assemble in every year on the first Wednesday of November at the seat of the Imperial government. The President of the Reichstag must summon it earlier if the Imperial President or at least a third of the members of the Reichstag so demand.

The Reichstag determines the close of a session and the day of re-assembling.

Article 25

The Imperial President can dissolve the Reichstag, but only once upon the same ground.

The new election shall take place not later than the sixtieth day after the dissolution.

Article 26

The Reichstag elects its President, his Proxies and its secretaries. It formulates its own Standing Rules.

Article 27

Between two sessions or election periods, the President and Proxies of the last session continue to function.

Article 28

The President exercises the law of the house and the police power within the Reichstag’s building. The house administration is under him; he controls the receipts and expenditures of the house in accordance with the Imperial Budget, and represents the Empire in all business transactions and law-controversies of his administration.

Article 29

The proceedings of the Reichstag shall be public. Upon application of fifty members the public can be excluded by a two-thirds majority.

Article 30

Accurate reports of the proceedings in the public sittings of the Reichstag, of a Land Diet or of their Committees shall remain free from any and all liability.

Article 31

In the Reichstag a Court for the Review of Elections shall be established. It shall also decide the question whether a deputy has lost his membership.

This court shall consist of members of the Reichstag, who shall be chosen by it for the election period, and of members of the Imperial Administrative Court, whom the Imperial President shall appoint upon nomination by the presidency of this court.

The Court for the Review of Elections shall render judgment, upon the basis of public, oral proceedings, by three members of the Reichstag and two professional judges.

Outside the transactions before the Court for the Review of Elections, the proceedings shall be conducted by an Imperial Commissioner, whom the Imperial President shall appoint. In other respects the proceedings shall be regulated by the Court for the Review of Elections.

Article 32

For a decision of the Reichstag a simple majority vote is requisite, in so far as the Constitution prescribes no other vote. For the elections by the Reichstag the Standing Rules can allow exceptions.

The quorum for the transaction of business is regulated by the Standing Rules.

Article 33

The Reichstag and its Committees can demand the presence of the Imperial Chancellor and any Imperial Minister.

The Imperial Chancellor, the Imperial Ministers and the Commissioners appointed by them have the right to attend the sittings of the Reichstag and its Committees. The Lands are authorized to send representatives to these sittings, who present the standpoint of their Government in the matter under discussion.

Upon their request the representatives of the Governments must be heard during the proceedings, and the representatives of the Imperial Government also outside the regular order of business.

They are subject to the rulings of the presiding officer in conducting the proceedings.

Article 34

The Reichstag has the right, and, upon request of a fifth of its members, the duty, to appoint Investigating Committees. These Committees shall take, in public hearing, the proof which they or those requesting the proceeding deem necessary. The public can be excluded by the Investigating Committee by a two-thirds vote. The Standing Rules shall regulate the proceedings of the Committee and determine the number of its members.

The courts and administrative authorities are obliged to comply with the demand of these Committees to assist them in taking proof; the records of the authorities are to be laid before them upon their request.

The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure are to be applied as far as practicable to the taking of proof by the Committees and the authorities upon whom they make demand. But the privacy of letters and the mail, telegraph and telephone shall remain undisturbed.

Article 35

The Reichstag shall appoint a standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, which can be active also outside a session of the Reichstag and after the termination of the election period or after dissolution of the Reichstag until the convening of the new Reichstag. The sittings of this Committee shall not be public, unless the Committee adopts publicity by a two-thirds vote.

The Reichstag shall further appoint a standing Committee for the protection of the rights of the body representing the people against the Imperial Government outside a session and after the termination of an election period.

These Committees shall have the rights of Investigating committees.

Article 36

No member of the Reichstag or of a Land Diet may at any time be prosecuted in court or by way of discipline or otherwise held to account outside the assembly for his vote or for utterances in the exercise of his office.

Article 37

No member of the Reichstag or of a Land Diet can, without the consent of the house to which the deputy belongs, during the session period, because of a punishable offence, be subjected to an examination or arrested, unless the member is apprehended in the commission of the act or not later than the course of the next following day.

The same consent shall be necessary in every other case or restriction of personal liberty which interferes with the exercise of the office of deputy.

Every criminal proceeding against a member of the Reichstag or of a Land Diet and every detention or other restriction of his personal liberty shall, upon demand of the house to which the deputy belongs, be suspended for the duration of the session period.

Article 38

The members of the Reichstag and of the Land Diets shall have the right to refuse to testify about persons who make confidential communications to them in their capacity as deputies or to whom they have made such communications in the exercise of their office as deputies, and also about these communication themselves. And with respect to sequestration of documents they shall enjoy the same rights as persons who have a statutory right to refuse to testify.

A search or sequestration may be undertaken in the rooms of the Reichstag or of a Land Diet only with the consent of the President.

Article 39

Public officials and members of the armed forces shall need no leave of absence or furlough in order to discharge their duties as members of the Reichstag or of a Land Diet.

If they are candidates for a seat in these bodies the requisite leave of absence or furlough for the preparation of their election is to be granted them.

Article 40

The members of the Reichstag receive the right of free transportation on all German railroads and also remuneration in accordance with an Imperial statute.