In December 1848 the Austrian A. Ritter von Schmerling resigned from his post as head of the “Reichsministerium” which he had held since September. The attitude of his government had deprived him of all possibilities to resolve the conflict “Deutsche Frage“ by incorporating Austria and its non-German territories into the future German federal state. On 18.12.1848 Heinrich von Gagern became head of the “Reichsministerium” and E. Simson was elected as the president of the parliament. Von Gagern tried in vain to bridge the gap between the political differences by a “Programm des Engeren und Weiteren Bundes“, i.e., he fought for a German federal state with a Prussian head of state, complemented by a federation with the Austrian monarchy. But in the end, the politics of the Habsburg monarchy foiled this solution as a constitution for the entire territory of state was issued. The “Kleindeutsche” were only able to have the majority when a number of concessions had been made to the left-wing group concerning questions of domestic policy, such as the suffrage. On 28.3.1848 King Friedrich Wilhelm IV von Preußen was elected by 290 votes and 248 abstentions as the hereditary emperor.
The National Assembly had completed its task. However, its constitution never came into force, even though it had been recognized, officially and unconditionally, by 28 German governments: the Prussian king rejected the imperial crown and the reactionaries gained the upper hand in most of the larger states. Austria and Prussia as well as the majority of the German confederate states recalled their representatives from the National Assembly. Insurrections broke out in Saxony and Baden-Württemberg, aimed at pushing through the constitution despite opposition from the governments, but were suppressed with Prussian aid. The remaining representatives – the so-called “Rumpfparlament”, which was a group of about 100 radicals – transferred their meetings to Stuttgart. On 18.6. – exactly 13 months after the meeting of the National Assembly, which had been perceived as a hopeful sign – the government of Württemberg broke up the “Rumpfparlament” by use of troops.
Despite its failure the political significance of the National Assembly in Frankfurt and its after-effects from Bismarck’s state to the constitution of the Weimar Republic was immense. Although its constitution never came into force, many of its basic ideas have always had a bearing on the political life in Germany.