Attacking the Bar Associations

In the midst of pandemic, thousands of attorneys-at-law in Turkey have spent days and nights for almost two weeks to protest a bill that prescribes amendments in the Advocacy Law. The bill would reduce the representation of (generally progressive) lawyers from Turkey’s big cities in the national Union of Turkish Bar Associations and furthermore allows setting up new bar associations. It is feared that this might be used to weaken the existing strong bar associations that have repeatedly criticized the government in the past on matters concerning human rights and the protection of the rule of law.

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The State of Denial Amidst a Military Parade: COVID-19 in Belarus

In contrast to the ‘illiberal democracies’ of Hungary and Poland, Belarus in its response to COVID-19 appears to be playing the role of a perfectly ‘liberal’ state with almost a laissez-faire solution, where people’s choice is prioritized and rights are respected as no severe measures are introduced to close businesses or restrict free movement. This image is inevitably misleading, as democratic institutions in Belarus have been brought to heel long ago, and alternative information about the state of affairs in Belarus regarding the virus remains suppressed.

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The Philippines’ Dalliance with Authoritarianism in Times of National Emergency

The Philippines is remarkably familiar with national emergencies, having faced just in the past three decades alone two global financial catastrophes, a number of coup attempts, a couple of destructive volcanic eruptions, a slew of ravaging typhoons, deadly terrorist attacks, and a devastating earthquake. Notably, the national response at these moments of crisis is to give the President “emergency powers”. Of course, this also comes with the admonition that citizens must fall in line and obey the commands of the government, which usually means temporarily “adjusting” adherence to human rights and respect for civil liberties.

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Schmittian Instincts at Odds with Neoliberalism

Carl Schmitt is now regularly referenced in discussions of President Trump’s extraordinary and probably unprecedented claims to unchecked executive power. The President’s knee-jerk hostility to the administrative state, however, has helped spare Americans the worst consequences of his Schmittian legal instincts. Yet that hostility has come with its own high price.

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Authoritarianism Without Emergency Powers: Brazil Under COVID-19

One of the few heads of state that insist on denying scientific and epidemiologic facts concerning the spread of COVID-19 is the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. For Bolsonaro, politics comes before truth. Since the beginning of the pandemic of COVID-19, he is disseminating doubts on social media (although Twitter, Facebook and Instagram deleted some of his posts) to galvanize his radical supporters while creating a distraction for his government’s inability to implement social and economic aids to the low-income families affected by social distancing. For the moment, the president has failed to gather the public support that he needs for an extension of the emergency powers of the executive, like Orbán did in Hungary. But his authoritarian discourse has not disappeared from the horizon. On 31st March 2020, for instance, Bolsonaro celebrated the anniversary of the Coup of 1964 as a “great day for freedom”.

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Slowing or Stopping the Turn to Authoritarianism in Israel

The elections will not bring any change with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the religious conflict or the growing inequality. But they are important and even crucial for the future of Israel as they are most likely to slow and perhaps block the erosion of the protection of civil rights in Israel and the slow but continuous transition of Israel from a liberal democracy to an authoritarian one.

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Putin and the Costs of Being Wrong

Since mid-2019, Moscow experiences a wave of public protests, triggered by the decision of the government not to allow several opposition candidates to run for the city parliament in the elections scheduled for September. How can we explain this unprecedented rise of spontaneous protests activity? For me, the protests in Moscow are an example of a core problem any authoritarian regime faces but which is frequently overlooked by the analysts and scientists: the risks of mistakes.

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