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In Support of the Emergency Laws (May 15-16, 1968)

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It is not true that this draft will destroy the foundation of the rights of the unions. On the contrary, the draft anchors the existing law on labor disputes expressly in the constitution.

It is not true that this draft will do away with civil liberties. Freedom of opinion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and association will not be affected by it. Also, to the extent that freedom of movement, the right to choose one’s occupation, and the right to own property are limited, these basic rights will remain outside the scope of unilateral action by the federal government.

It is not true that this bill lays the groundwork for a civil war. The judiciary committee endeavored, both in the formulation of the civic right to resistance and with regard to the federal government’s option to use troops against armed rebels in an extreme emergency, to make clear that these measures are to be used only as the ultima ratio, the last resort, when all other means have failed.

It is also not true – and I have a pertinent reason for saying this – that this bill is a weapon in the Cold War or serves to intensify international tensions. The passing of the bill will demonstrate the will of the German people to defend itself but nothing more. By making this clear, it reduces the dangers that could arise from the misinterpretation of our position.

This draft, ladies and gentlemen, is not a carte blanche for adventures or unilateral actions.

(How true! from the CDU/CSU)

But it is also not a paper sword. It does not refuse to give the parliament and the government the authority they need to preserve the liberal democratic and constitutional principles of our republic.

This law is necessary to terminate rights retained by the Allies, on whose basis the Three Powers can still assume supreme governmental authority in the Federal Republic today.

This law is necessary to secure essential supplies for the population and the armed forces and to protect the population in a situation in which defense is necessary, to the extent that this is even possible under the conditions of modern military conflicts.

This law is necessary to provide a legal basis for the consolidation of aid from the federal and state governments in the event of natural disasters and serious accidents.

This law is necessary to repel domestic threats to the democratic, constitutional order of our Federal Republic, no matter which side they come from and by what means.

Ladies and gentlemen, for the second time, a second reading of an emergency constitution is taking place in the Bundestag. The first time around, the parliamentary factions of the CDU/CSU and the FDP approved the draft submitted at that time. The SPD parliamentary faction largely agreed but withheld its approval because, in their opinion, a few questions had not been answered to satisfaction. These questions are being answered in the draft presented now, and this draft has also been approved by the SPD parliamentary faction. The judiciary committee therefore hopes for the adoption of the bill it is presenting.

* Reference to the United States, Great Britain, and France – eds.

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