Foreign Policy Reorientation, Domestic Policy Choices
Considerations relating to domestic policy were of especial and – curiously – often underrated importance in connection with a problem that became extremely acute in the summer of 1879, namely the question of a choice, clearly becoming inescapable, between Russia and Austria-Hungary. On the domestic policy front there was little question of any reinforcement and internal consolidation of what from the government’s point of view was a precarious ad hoc coalition of conservatives and Centre Party. Herbert von Bismarck's long-term domestic policy objective, which that mistaken assessment at least sometimes deluded him into thinking was attainable, was from the early 1880s onwards more and more clear-cut: to depoliticize the parties by stressing the standpoint of material interest. Most historians still agree that right up until the beginning of the 1880s Bismarck remained distinctly hostile to the idea that Germany too should start acquiring colonial possessions.