Germany: A Marie Antoinette Prize for Robert Habeck

The Ludwig Börne Prize is a literary award presented once a year for “outstanding essays, reviews and reportages”, and named after the famous political journalist and revolutionary democrat from Frankfurt, Ludwig Börne (1786-1837). This year, it was awarded to Economy Minister and leading Green Party member Robert Habeck, who was chosen by Jürgen Kaube, author and co-publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. This is the first time it was given to a politician still in office, which has been strongly criticized, including among Kaube’s former colleagues. Indeed, it is seen as an attempt to improve the image of a government coalition in Berlin, which is in a free fall at this point.

Outside the historical St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt, where the ceremony took place on June 11, a protest rally took place under the motto “No prize for Habeck – No to Poverty and Pauperization”. Among the groups present were the Citizens for Frankfurt (BFF), the Alliance for Innovation and Justice (BIG), the Basis Party and the Civil Rights Movement Solidarity (BüSo).

Several speakers, including Wolfgang Hübner of Citizens for Frankfurt and Alexander Hartmann of the BüSo, each explained why, in their views, Habeck does not deserve any award, much less the Börne Prize. Not only the scandalous affair of cronyism in his ministry was addressed, but also the international networks behind the policies implemented by the Green minister; the negative effects of this policy on the general population, which Habeck and his comrades in the Green Party couldn’t care less about, and their support for NATO’s arms buildup war policy.

Wolfgang Hübner stressed that there can be no doubt that Robert Habeck’s policy is detrimental to the German population and the economy. We can’t let such a prize go by without protesting, he said, even if we can’t prevent it from being awarded. Alexander Hartmann, for his part, said:

“Whether it is Mr. Habeck’s intention or not, his policy is de facto geared to plunging our country back into a pre-industrial situation, in which the civilizing achievements considered commonplace today, which only become accessible and affordable for the broad masses thanks to industrial mass production, will only be available to a small, rich, privileged elite….

“In other words, they represent an outlook and a governance which the democratic movement, for which Saint Paul’s Church is the monument and memorial, and of which Carl Ludwig Börne was both a pioneer and a courageous voice, fought against. Therefore, Robert Habeck does not deserve the Ludwig Börne prize, but rather the Marie Antoinette prize, under the motto ‘The people have no coal? Let them burn their money!’.”

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