Bismarck was a staunch conservative and a royalist. He made it clear on multiple occasions that his only real concern was furthering Prussian interests, and that he did not care at all about German Nationalism or its unification. He hated parliamentarianism, and all sorts of liberal/democratic policies.
Midway through his career, however, he realised that he needed the support of liberals and and started making concessions in their favour. He also began to view nationalism and the desire for unification favourably and realised he could use that sentiment to achieve his own goals (ie. strengthening Prussia). His political views changed so much that he upset his fellow conservatives who thought he was betraying their ideals.
What exactly did all this do though? How did it help make “Prussia” stronger? The way he completely disregarded the Prussian parliament and went ahead with the reorganisation of the army without their consent, showed that he didn’t really need to be popular with the liberals. When Austria was defeated, Prussia became the dominant power in the region (which had been Bismarck’s goal all along), why then did he feel like he needed to appease liberals by giving them manhood suffrage in the reichstag?
He never wanted a united Germany, he never wanted liberalisation, what did his change of policies actually do besides making the liberals not “hate” him?
Source: reddit post