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For Germany 2009 was a year of constitutional anniversaries: the first democratic constitution (Paulskirchenverfassung of 1849) was promulgated 160 years ago; the 1919 Weimar Constitution would have turned 90; and finally, the country celebrated 60 years of the Basic Law, which was proclaimed and signed in Bonn on 23 May 1949. Despite its birth in the midst of economic and political turmoil and widespread disillusion with politics, the Basic Law has come to be regarded as a "success story." As is well known, it was never meant to last - the very term "Grundgesetz" (basic law) indicated that it was intended to serve as a temporary constitutional framework until the enactment of a new constitution for the whole of Germany. Yet the Basic Law outgrew its provisional character. Today, not only the political establishment is united in praising the Grundgesetz. The scholarly assessment also has been mostly positive. The constitutional bargain struck in 1949 has been able to achieve what no previous German constitution had managed. The right and the left of the German political spectrum fashioned an enduring compromise that combined democracy, federalism and the welfare state. It is part of the story that the old anti-liberal and nationalist elite had been thoroughly delegitimized by loosing the war. Also, the Allies gave the effort an additional nudge. The progressive changes could then be implemented quite effectively by relying on the juristic culture of the Rechtsstat that dates back to the bureaucratic legacy of, among others, the Prussian state.