1930 German federal election

← 1928 14 September 1930 (1930-09-14) July 1932 →

All 577 seats in the Reichstag
289 seats needed for a majority
Registered42,982,912 Increase 4.3%
Turnout35,224,499 (82.0%) Increase 6.4pp
  First party Second party Third party
SPD 1930 leadership.jpg
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-10460, Adolf Hitler, Rednerposen (cropped).jpg
Ernst Thälmann 1932.jpg
Leader Otto Wels &
Arthur Crispien
Adolf Hitler Ernst Thälmann
Leader since 14 June 1919 29 July 1921 October 1925
Last election 29.8%, 153 seats 2.6%, 12 seats 10.6%, 54 seats
Seats won 143 107 77
Seat change Decrease 10 Increase 95 Increase 23
Popular vote 8,575,244 6,379,672 4,590,160
Percentage 24.5% 18.3% 13.1%
Swing Decrease 5.3pp Increase 15.7pp Increase 2.5pp

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Ludwig Kaas Konkordatsunterzeichnung mini.jpg
AlfredHugenberg1933 (cropped).jpeg
Scholz LCCN2014711328 (cropped).jpg
Leader Ludwig Kaas Alfred Hugenberg Ernst Scholz
Party Centre DNVP DVP
Leader since September 1928 1928 1929
Last election 12.1%, 61 seats 14.2%, 73 seats 8.7%, 45 seats
Seats won 68 41 30
Seat change Increase 7 Decrease 32 Decrease 15
Popular vote 4,127,000 2,457,686 1,577,365
Percentage 11.8% 7.0% 4.5%
Swing Decrease 0.3pp Decrease 7.2pp Decrease 4.2pp

German Federal Election, 1930.svg
Winning party by electoral constituency.

1930 German federal election by District - Simple.svg
1930 German federal election by District.svg

Chancellor before election

Heinrich Brüning

Chancellor after election

None (Brüning remained as unelected Chancellor)

Federal elections were held in Germany on 14 September 1930.[1][2] Despite losing ten seats, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) remained the largest party in the Reichstag, winning 143 of the 577 seats, while the Nazi Party (NSDAP) dramatically increased its number of seats from 12 to 107.[3] The Communists also increased their parliamentary representation, gaining 23 seats and becoming the third-largest party in the Reichstag.


The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) had won the most votes and was the largest party in every election from 1919 to 1930. They led the coalition government between 1919–1920 and 1928–1930.

After the 1928 German federal election, a grand coalition was formed under the Social Democratic chancellor Hermann Müller. The coalition collapsed on 27 March 1930. President Hindenburg appointed Centre Party politician and academic Heinrich Brüning as chancellor, who formed a minority government.

The new government was confronted with the economic crisis caused by the Great Depression. Brüning disclosed to his associates in the German Labour Federation that his chief aim as chancellor would be to liberate the German economy from the burden of continuing to pay war reparations and foreign debt. This would require an unpopular policy of tight credit and a rollback of all wage and salary increases (an internal devaluation). The Reichstag rejected Brüning's measures within a month, who then used emergency powers to pass it anyway. The Reichstag rejected the emergency decree with 256 votes from the Social Democrats, the Communists, the German National People's Party and the Nazis. Brüning asked Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag, who promptly did so on 18 July 1930. New elections were held on 14 September 1930.

Electoral system

In 1930, Germany was formally a multi-party parliamentary democracy, led by President Paul von Hindenburg (1925–1934). However, beginning in March 1930, Hindenburg only appointed governments without a parliamentary majority which systematically governed by emergency decrees, circumventing the democratically elected Reichstag.

The electoral law awarded one seat in the Reichstag per 60,000 votes. All citizens over 21 could vote through a system of proportional representation. A new parliament was elected every four years to deal with issues related to taxes, trade, defense, etc. The President was directly elected every seven years and was primarily in control of the armed forces; however, he also had significant powers to dissolve the Reichstag, nominate a Chancellor, veto laws, and invoke article 48.


In 1930, there were 37 individual parties running for office, only ten of which secured over 3% of the popular vote. The top six political parties participating in the 1930 election were the following:

Political party Ideology Political position Leader
Social Democratic Party of Germany Social democracy Centre-left to left-wing Otto Wels & Arthur Crispien
National Socialist German Workers Party Nazism Far-right Adolf Hitler
Communist Party of Germany Communism, Marxism Far-left Ernst Thälmann
Centre Party Political Catholicism Centre-right to right-wing[4] Ludwig Kaas
German National People's Party National conservatism, Monarchism, Proto-fascism Right-wing to far-right Alfred Hugenberg
German People's Party National liberalism, Monarchism, Civic nationalism Centre-right to right-wing Ernst Scholz

The Nazis had increased their share of the vote in state elections since their 1928 federal election result. The SPD designated the "bourgeois block" and the Nazis as their enemies and, with the KPD, held rallies in Berlin on 1 August 1930 under the motto "Never again war". Some 30,000 participated in the SPD rally in the Lustgarten and 15,000 in the KPD demonstration at the Winterfeldtplatz. On 23 August, KPD members attacked a Nazi event in Bunzlau. Three people were killed and two seriously injured in fighting with the police. The KPD election campaign climaxed with a rally in the Berlin Sportpalast on 12 September.


The 1930 German election drew a record 82% voter turnout. The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) remained the strongest party and won 143 seats, a loss of 10 seats from the previous election. The National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) rose to become the second-largest party with 18.25% of the vote and gained 107 seats, a massive increase from the 12 seats that had been gained in the last election. The only other major party to significantly increase its seats was the Communist Party of Germany, which won 13.13% of the vote, securing 77 seats, 23 more than in the last election. The Centre Party slightly increased their seat count by 7, equalling 68, but dropped to fourth from third place in their seat count and popular vote in comparison to the 1928 election.

The German National People's Party's (DNVP) support plummeted but managed to secure 41 seats overall. They lost 32 seats from their previously held 73, and dropped to fifth from second, chiefly due to the fragmentation of the party under Alfred Hugenberg's leadership.[5] Due to Hugenberg's more hardline positions, moderate voters moved to the newly-formed Christian Social People's Service (CSVD), Conservative People's Party (KVP), and Christian-National Peasants' and Farmers' Party (CNBL).[6] The German People's Party (DVP) continued to haemorrhage seats, losing 15 and only attaining 4.51% of the popular vote, ceasing to be a notable political force after the July 1932 elections. The 28 other political parties shared the remainder of the votes.

Social Democratic Party8,575,24424.53−5.23143−10
Nazi Party6,379,67218.25+15.62107+95
Communist Party of Germany4,590,16013.13+2.5177+23
Centre Party4,127,00011.81−0.2668+7
German National People's Party2,457,6867.03−7.2241−32
German People's Party1,577,3654.51−4.2030−15
Reich Party of the German Middle Class1,361,7623.90−0.61230
German State Party1,322,0343.78−1.0320−5
Christian-National Peasants' and Farmers' Party1,108,0433.17+1.3119+10
Bavarian People's Party1,058,6373.03−0.0419+2
Christian Social People's Service868,2692.48New14New
German Farmers' Party339,4340.97−0.596−2
Conservative People's Party290,5790.83New4New
Reich Party for Civil Rights and Deflation–Christian Social Reich Party271,2910.78−0.880−2
Agricultural League193,9260.55−0.1030
German-Hanoverian Party144,2860.41−0.233−1
Christian Social Peoples Community81,5500.23New0New
Polish People's Party72,9130.210.0000
Schmalix Greater German List26,7070.08New0New
German House and Property Owners' Party25,5300.07−0.0500
Conservative People's PartyGerman-Hanoverian Party22,2180.06New0New
Independent Social Democratic Party11,6900.03−0.0400
Free Association of Craftsmen, Retailers, and Tradesmen9,5310.03New0New
Radical German State Party8,8410.03New0New
German Unity Party for the True National Economy6,9150.02New0New
Disabled Veterans and Survivors of the German Side, Including the Found6,7040.02New0New
German Cultural Party of Intellectual Professions, Employees and Officials6,1810.02New0New
Tradesmen, Craftsmen, Home Owners3,6440.01New0New
Schleswig Club1,7850.010.0000
Humanity Party and the New Community1,6260.00New0New
Evangelical voters1,3260.00New0New
Party Against Alcohol1,1710.00New0New
Workers Party for Creative Workers9070.00New0New
Prussian-Lithunanian People's Party6660.00New0New
Renter and People's Reich Party6530.00New0New
People's Party of the Lusatian Sorbs2880.00New0New
Valid votes34,956,47199.24
Invalid/blank votes268,0280.76
Total votes35,224,499100.00
Registered voters/turnout42,982,91281.95
Source: Gonschior.de


The 1930 election left the Social Democrats and KPD with almost 40 per cent of the seats in the Reichstag between them. In November 1931, the SPD suggested the two parties work together but Thälmann rejected the offer, with the KPD newspaper The Red Flag calling for an “intensification of the fight against Social Democracy”. Addressing the Nazi electoral breakthrough in the 1930 elections, Thälmann insisted that if Hitler came to power he was sure to fail and drive Nazi voters into the arms of the KPD. As late as February 1932, Thälmann was arguing that “Hitler must come to power first, then the requirements for a revolutionary crisis [will] arrive more quickly”.[7]


  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p762 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Pollock, James K. (1930). "The German Reichstag Elections of 1930". American Political Science Review. 24 (4): 989–995. doi:10.2307/1946755. ISSN 0003-0554.
  3. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p790
  4. ^ Allinson, Mark (30 October 2014). Germany and Austria since 1814. ISBN 9781444186529.
  5. ^ Beck, Hermann (2009). The Fateful Alliance: German Conservatives and Nazis in 1933. Oxford: Berghahn Books. pp. 50–51. ISBN 978-1845456801.
  6. ^ Bessel, Richard; Feuchtwanger, E.J. (1981). Social Change and Political Development in Weimar Germany. Croom Helm. pp. 147, 148, 277. ISBN 085664921X.
  7. ^ Winner, David. "How the left enabled fascism". New Statesman.