On 29 January 2021, the Portuguese Parliament approved the decriminalization of active euthanasia and assisted suicide for adults in a situation of intolerable suffering, with a definitive injury of extreme gravity according to scientific consensus, or incurable and fatal disease. A ruling delivered on 15 March by the Constitutional Court halted this legal innovation and cut short on introducing the right to a self-determined death in the Portuguese legal order. Continue reading >>
Following an initial comparatively successful handling of the pandemic, infection numbers began increasing consistently after September in Portugal and reached an alarming rate at the beginning of 2021. A second lockdown started on January 14, 2021, with record infection and mortality rates and the National Health Service near breakdown. On 21 January, the measures were tightened and included the closure of schools and universities. A year later, Portugal is back to square one, and, as the failure to control the growth of the pandemic seems evident, medical and moral despair dominate. The impact of the restrictions on the freedom of movement contributed to a decline in the country’s overall score of The Economist’s Democracy Index 2020, that now qualifies it as a “democracy with flaws”. Continue reading >>
The late Giovanni Sartori once said that we lacked a general theory of dictatorship. It is very likely that we are also short of a theory of emergency. As the current pandemic has come to show us, not only we still have difficulties to include emergency into our conception of constitutional law; we seem to differ on what emergency means and necessitates and on what should be its place in the functioning of the democratic State. Continue reading >>
In Portugal, a recent decision of the Constitutional Court rejected another legislative attempt to implement a successful system of surrogacy. For the first time in its 26-year history, the Court faced legislative defiance of its previous case law, but asserted its role as the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution with arguments of “legal security” which provided the formal ground to escape the conflict between branches. Continue reading >>
Recently, the German Federal Constitutional Court has decided that certain cuts on wages for civil servants in the Land Baden-Württemberg are unconstitutional. The judgment establishes a constitutional answer to the so-called “there is no alternative” (TINA) rhetoric that has largely dominated the political discourse on budgetary consolidation in the past. From this perspective, this line of jurisprudence allows for opening up a political and constitutional discourse that has become somewhat colonized by purely economic and financial considerations. Continue reading >>
Last Tuesday, the Portuguese Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional several provisions of the regime on surrogacy, as well as the prohibition to disclose the identity of gamete donors and surrogate mothers. The most striking aspect of this decision, however, is not what the PCC ruled unconstitutional but rather what it expressly accepted as being constitutionally valid. The clear messages sent by the PCC to the legislature show a careful self-repositioning of the Court in its role as a constitutional interpreter in a democracy.
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Portugals Präsident Cavaco Silva verweigert der linken Mehrheit im Parlament den Auftrag zur Regierungsbildung. Ist das ein Verfassungsbruch? Wohl nicht, wenngleich die vermutliche Strategie dahinter verfassungspolitisch zu größter Sorge Anlass gibt. Continue reading >>