The Basic Law is celebrating its 75th birthday. On this occasion, the President of the Federal Constitutional Court, Stephan Harbarth, calls for more social and political commitment in a guest article. Because the best constitution is of no use without the commitment of people.

On May 23, 2024, the Basic Law celebrates its 75th birthday. This is truly a reason to be happy! The Basic Law has proven to be a unique stroke of luck for our country.

Initially intended as a provisional measure, the Basic Law quickly won over people’s hearts and is now the constitution of all citizens in Germany. The Basic Law gives us a stable regulatory framework. It created the conditions for decades of peace, freedom, democracy, the rule of law and social welfare and prosperity in our country.

At the same time, the Basic Law is flexible and open to the future: it enabled and accompanied European integration and the reunification of Germany. It had appropriate answers ready to new developments – outlined by the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court.

And yet even the best constitution alone is not an absolute guarantee for the continued existence of the free democratic order. It does not function on its own, but remains dependent on as many people as possible actively supporting it.

At present, Western-style liberal democracies are increasingly exposed to attacks, both from outside and from within. The reasons are varied, not all reasons are clear.

The extraordinary concentration of challenges and problems certainly plays its part: war in Europe, the consequences of the pandemic, economic uncertainties, migration, climate change and rapid technological changes contribute to concerns about our own future, that of our children and that of future generations.

Many people want simple, quick and clear answers to this. Democracy often cannot provide these answers at the same speed as autocratic forms of rule. And yet we know from our own history how miserably authoritarian models ultimately fail and how only liberal democracy leads to a happy future.

On its 75th birthday, I wish the Basic Law that we will experience a vitalization of democracy. May the Basic Law reach as many people as possible who are passionately committed to freedom, democracy and the rule of law – through civic, social and political commitment, on a small and large scale.