The Social Question and New Government Functions. Government functions expanded after 1870. Civil service exams allowed individuals to win positions through their own talent. School systems generally became compulsive to the age of 12; literacy became almost universal. Wider welfare measures replaced or supplemented private agencies providing assistance for accidents, illness, and old age. A realignment of the political spectrum occurred. Social issues became the key criteria for partisanship. The rise of socialism depended upon working-class grievances and reflected Karl Marx’s theory that made socialism the final phase of historical development. Leaders in many countries translated his theories into political action. Socialist parties became major forces in Germany, Austria, and France by the 1880s. Some socialists—revisionists—became supporters of parliamentary democracy to achieve their goals. Feminist movements by 1900 also challenged the existing order, sometimes by violent action. Many Western countries extended the right to vote to women during the early decades of the 20th century.