54th Theodor Heuss Award Ceremony
“To each their democracy? No democracy without the rule of law!”
Theodor Heuss Prize awarded to Małgorzata Gersdorf
Stuttgart. Under this year’s theme of “To each their democracy? No democracy without the rule of law!” the First President of the Supreme Court of Poland Małgorzata Gersdorf has been awarded the 2019 Theodor Heuss Prize. By awarding her the 54th Theodor Heuss Prize, the non-partisan Theodor Heuss Foundation pays tribute to the exemplary fortitude, clarity and civil courage with which Małgorzata Gersdorf has defended the essential requirements for a constitutional democracy. “Democracy also includes the rule of law, separation of powers, protection of minorities, fairness in public debate and freedom of the media. Unfortunately, politicians and political forces are currently trying to undermine or even abolish these achievements. Ms Gersdorf has opposed this development in Poland with admirable matter-of-factness,” said Prof. Dr. Gesine Schwan, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Theodor Heuss Foundation and President of the Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform, explaining the award of the prize. First President of the Supreme Court of Poland Małgorzata Gersdorf has refused to take the early retirement demanded by law, as this law breaches the Polish constitution. The European Court of Justice ruled in her favour in an urgent decision.
The 2019 Theodor Heuss Medals go to the Swiss citizen and voter movement Operation Libero (for the rule of law, against xenophobia and for a fair and cosmopolitan society in Switzerland), to the German student initiative Refugee Law Clinics e.V. (for its pragmatic and civic engagement of students to provide voluntary legal support to refugees) and to the “Hand in Hand” cultural alliance from Chemnitz (for its actions on 01/09/2018 when demonstrators from Pro Chemnitz and Alternative für Deutschland were confronted with texts from the German constitution and a banner reading “Die Würde des Menschen ist antastbar” (“Human dignity can be violated”) was installed in order to react objectively, peacefully and originally to hatred following a violent death in the city and to encourage further reflection).
The 54th Theodor Heuss award ceremony will take place on Saturday, 11 May 2019 at 10:30 in the Haus der Wirtschaft in Stuttgart. The laudatory speech will be given by Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, former Federal Minister of Justice and Deputy Chair of the Theodor Heuss Foundation.