On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Basic Law, it seems that a sense of consensus that has become rare has seized the Republic: we have a great text, a document of basic trust in democratic forces, state responsibility and individual protection; a vademecum of political virtue. To improve the constitution? That hardly works.
Maybe it's just this unity that is worrying. The success of this Basic Law has a lot to do with its requirements, but a lot more to do with the developments that the country has since undergone; the development of a socially acceptable model of capitalism that enables participation in wealth; the constant self-reflection in memory of the horrors of the Nazi era; entering into international alliances and trade relations while at the same time withdrawing foreign policy as a former world stalwart. And last but not least, the party-based recruitment of political leaders, which makes it difficult for gamblers to play at the levers of power.
Who is right or gets, is not so important
All this, without denying the fate of the constitutional authors, is also a mixture of good luck and community service. Who appealed to the right, who was right or got right, especially in court, played a minor role in the internal conflicts of the past. Those who oppose rearmament will recognize today that a European Germany can hardly be a demilitarized zone. Anyone who wanted reunification did not get it despite, but possibly because of the Ostpolitik. And nuclear power opponents and climate savers have long known that e-mobility does not grow on trees. When the Basic Law has achieved something, it is an awareness that in a democracy, every progress requires compromise.
Nevertheless, the role of law is hard to underestimate. However, it does not lie in its authoritarian character, which is much praised when the Federal Constitutional Court once again gives parliament and government a “swatter” and annuls laws. On the contrary, it is the dialogue that makes the case law from Karlsruhe appear as a profit. Here not only limits are shown, but possibilities. Because if something goes wrong for legal reasons, this sharpens the senses for alternatives. The audible groaning in the executive over many a judgment expresses only the unwillingness to work again and perhaps with more original thoughts; Often the result is better then before. Dialogue with law is a prerequisite for democracy, as is dialogue with citizens.
The most powerful idea: equality
The most powerful example of this process, in which there is no end and no judgment, is the idea of equality embodied in Article Three. What used to be considered a freedom to exclude women from occupations can be discriminatory today. And those who were previously discriminated, such as gay men or illegitimate children, may be free. Conflicts still exist. But emancipation is something that can affect far more than gender and other identities. Now it may be about emancipating oneself from a certain constitutionalism. Nowhere in the Basic Law is it clear what happens next. Politicians have to find their own way. But she has a good companion.