From Emergency to Disaster

This week, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government put before the Hungarian Parliament two draft laws that, if passed, would end the state of emergency and create a new legal framework for handing the pandemic from here on out.  In doing so, the government was responding to those who criticized the unlimited power that the government had been given in the law creating a pandemic emergency, the Enabling Act of 30 March 2020.  That law allowed the government to override any law by decree, a power that was unlimited in both scope and time and that violated Fidesz’ own “illiberal” constitution the Fundamental Law.  

The new laws are no better, and may even be worse.   One of the draft laws is less than one page long accompanied by two pages of justification.   It purports to repeal the initial Enabling Act (about which, more below).    The other one is called the law on “transitional provisions” and at first it seems only to provide lots of technical answers to questions that arise about how to reset deadlines for various legal processes that were delayed when the economy stopped. The new laws are no better, and may even be worse.

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Constitutional Innovation, Democratic Stagnation?

The recovery plan of the Commission entitled “Next Generation EU” proposes a compromise that goes beyond the ominous lowest common denominator. With a package of EUR 750bn in total, comprising EUR 250bn in loans and the rest in grants, the Commission paves the way for both forward-looking public finance and constitutional innovation. The proposals are masterpieces of high-tech legal engineering. Again, European constitutional law evolves through crisis. Yet, again, it stands to reason how far the proposed instruments will shift the European Union towards enhancing solidarity and democracy.

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COVID-19 in Paraguay: Health Success and Constitutional Deficit

Paraguay has been rated as the South American country that has best avoided the spread of COVID-19. This success could have come under the wing of the rule of the Constitution. However, up to now, the Paraguayan response to COVID-19 brought along with it the use of a constitutionally questionable law, kept in force a terrible approach to constitutional interpretation, and missed the opportunity for the branches of public power to collaborate with one another.

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Fighting COVID-19 with Religious Discrimination

The Korean authorities have garnered significant praise for their effective response to COVID-19. However, the country’s experience has not been without controversy. A significant proportion of cases were publicly attributed to a controversial religious congregation, and the authorities’ dealings with its members raise questions about compliance with a number of human rights.

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Notebooks für Alle

Im Zentrum der Diskussionen um die von der Politik getroffenen Maßnahmen zur Bekämpfung des Corona-Virus steht die Wirtschaft. Im Vergleich dazu laufen die Auswirkungen der Schulschließungen auf Kinder und Jugendliche bislang weitgehend unter dem politischen und medialen Aufmerksamkeitsradar. Dabei korrespondiert mit dem staatlichen Bildungs- und Erziehungsauftrag auch die Pflicht des Staates sicherzustellen, dass alle Kinder und Jugendlichen in gleicher Weise am Schulunterricht teilnehmen können und nicht aufgrund ihrer Herkunft diskriminiert werden. In letzter Konsequenz müssen Staat oder Schulträger deshalb auch die Kosten für die notwendigen Lernmittel tragen.

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A Motion of No Confidence and Political Power Struggles Amidst a Pandemic

Only in office since the beginning of February, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti did not survive a motion of no confidence in late March. Instead of calling new elections, the President of the Republic has been working towards forming a new government, invoking his right to propose a Prime Minister. This move, however, has no basis in the constitution, and the Constitutional Court is expected to clarify the matter any day.

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COVID-19: Walking the Tightrope of Vaccination Obligations

Normally, outside states of public health emergency, many countries employ some type of vaccination coercion scheme to encourage uptake. The range of possible measures, including monetary incentives, social exclusion, fines, and criminal penalties, fall on a spectrum from voluntary to strictly mandatory. Given the power and efficacy of vaccinations, many nations have adopted varying approaches to compelling vaccination against emergent public health threats. Specifically, this article examines the legal and historical orientation of mandatory vaccination in the US and Germany.

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Der Ball rollt wieder –Lobbyarbeit oder Grundgesetz?

In den letzten Wochen wurden in den Polit-Talkshows dieses Landes und andernorts viele Lockerungen im Zuge der Corona-Pandemie diskutiert. Eine ausgeprägte Voreingenommenheit mancher Diskussionsteilnehmer kam in besonderem Maße zum Vorschein, wenn über den sogenannten ReStart der Fußball-Bundesligen diskutiert wurde. Die Fähigkeit zur Abstraktion scheint im Zusammenhang mit einer emotional aufgeladenen Angelegenheit wie dem Profifußball mitunter außer Kraft gesetzt.

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States of Emergency

The fifty days of the ‘COVID-19 and States of emergency’ Symposium covered the height of the global legal reaction to the pandemic, offering a snapshot of countries in collective crisis. It began with a call for a global conversation on the kind of legal norms which should govern the situation of worldwide pandemic. This final contribution aims to trace the central themes, questions and issues raised by the Symposium.

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Zerreißprobe für den Flickenteppich?

Kritik am Föderalismus zählt in Deutschland zu den festen Ritualen der öffentlichen Kommunikation. Einen Flickenteppich aus undurchsichtigen, unnötig komplizierten Regeln habe dieser gewebt. Der Bundesstaat sei ein aus der Zeit gefallenes Relikt – so lauten einige der während der Covid-19-Krise wiederkehrenden abwertenden Meinungen. Diese Einschätzungen offenbaren ein fragwürdiges Verständnis von Föderalismus und Demokratie.

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