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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Chile and COVID-19: A Constitutional Authoritarian Temptation

Due to the pandemic, Chile’s 2020 electoral calendar has been modified, delaying the most important political event of the year: the April referendum for a new constitution. While the postponement is reasonable considering the current sanitary situation, recent suggestions that there be a further postponement due to a possible post-pandemic economic crisis threaten the democratic legitimacy of the process. As argued in this post, these measures and opinions, when read together, put the government close to an authoritarian use of the constitution.

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The Last Chance Saloon

To all intents and purposes, Orbán and his government have ceased to be democratically accountable either to the Hungarian Parliament or to the citizens of Hungary. The words in that last sentence are chosen carefully and with meaning. This blogpost suggest that Article 10 TEU may provide a basis for the exclusion of Hungarian representatives from the European Council and the Council of the European Union.

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Emergency Law Amendments to Fight Covid-19 in Egypt: Putting the Poison in the Honey

One could learn a very important lesson from the Egyptian experience as it relates to the state of emergency: A good constitutional text alone is not enough. Although new amendments to the Emergency Law included several public health measures that allow the state to contain the impact of the spread of COVID-19, the absence of a parliamentary and judicial review will remain a huge threat to fundamental rights and the basics of the democratic rule-making.

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Albania – Some Exceptional Extraordinary Measures

Albania was hit the by Covid-19 pandemic, although it seems not as gravely as some of its neighbours. Starting from 10 March 2020 the Albanian Government adopted several measures aiming to limit the spread of the pandemic in the country. Most of those measures have been continuously reviewed, following the development of the pandemic.

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Democracy and the Global Emergency – Shared Experiences, Starkly Uneven Impacts

Curating analysis of these developments since early April through the COVID-DEM project, and reading across the 62 published contributions to this outstanding symposium, there are clear commonalities across all democracies affected. Beyond these commonalities, the effect of the COVID-19 response on the democratic system has been – and will be – starkly uneven across democracies worldwide, due to the different democratic ‘starting point’ of each state as the pandemic hit.

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Japan’s Soft State of Emergency: Social Pressure Instead of Legal Penalty

People have been perplexed by the slow and soft approach of the Japanese government in their attempt to bring COVID-19 under control. The first case of COVID-19 in Japan was confirmed on 16 January 2020. On 30 January, the Japanese government set up the COVID-19 Countermeasures Headquarters. It published emergency countermeasures against COVID-19 on 13 February and presented Basic Policies for Coronavirus Disease Control on 25 February. However, none of these measures have introduced drastic measures such as border controls and/or curfews.

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Beyond the State of Alarm: COVID-19 in Spain

The confinements imposed by the Spanish Government in response to the pandemic are among the most intense in comparative terms since they contain a prohibition of going out into the street with only limited exceptions. Given their intensity, especially the strong limits imposed on the freedom of movement, the restrictions are rather suspensions than mere restrictions of fundamental rights and as such go beyond their legal basis of the state of alarm.

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