Streitbare Demokratie

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The wehrhafte or streitbare Demokratie ("well-fortified" or "battle-ready democracy") is a term for German politics that implies that the government (Bundesregierung), the parliament (Bundestag and Bundesrat) and the judiciary are given extensive powers and duties to defend the liberal democratic basic order ("freiheitlich-demokratische Grundordnung") against those who want to abolish it. The idea behind the concept is the notion that even a majority rule of the people cannot be allowed to install a totalitarian or autocratic regime such as with the Enabling Act of 1933, thereby violating the principles of the German constitution, the Basic Law.[citation needed]


Several articles of the German constitution allow a range of different measures to "defend the liberal democratic order".

  • Art. 9 allows for social groups to be labelled verfassungsfeindlich ("hostile to the constitution") and to be proscribed by the federal government. Political parties can be labelled enemies to the constitution only by the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court), according to Art. 21 II.
  • According to Art. 18, the Bundesverfassungsgericht can restrict the basic rights of people who fight against the verfassungsgemäße Ordnung (constitutional order). As of 2018, that has never happened in the history of the Federal Republic.
  • The federal and state bureaucracies can exclude people deemed "hostile to the constitution" from the civil service according to Art. 33 (Berufsverbot). Every civil servant (Beamter, a very broad class including many in the public sector who would not be considered civil servants in other countries, such as teachers) is sworn to defend the constitution and the constitutional order.
  • According to Art. 20, every German citizen has the right to resistance against anyone who wants to abolish the constitutional order as a last resort.

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