Preparing for the Pandemic Elections

There is no doubt that the essential state institutions should function as effectively as possible in the times of pandemic. It also means finding concrete and fast solutions provided in special statutes, aiming at alleviating social and economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. However, even when proceeding the bill known as Anti-crisis Shield (“Tarcza antykryzysowa”) that provides a financial aid for healthcare system, companies and different kinds of workers in Poland, the governing PiS party managed to introduce unconstitutional amendments to the bill.

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An Open Letter to the Speaker and the Legal Advisor of the Knesset

Following the March 2 election, Prime Minister Netanyahu has the support of 58 Knesset-Members. In contrast, 61 Knesset-Members have come out in support of Benny Gantz. In light of this majority, earlier this week Gantz was tasked by Israel’s President the mandate to try and form a government. Against this backdrop, on Wednesday, Parliament Speaker Yuli Edelstein unexpectedly suspended the recently elected Knesset.

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Silencing the Opposition in Hungary

On 10 December, the Hungarian opposition MPs got a lovely present from the governing majority for Christmas wrapped in a big legislative package amending both the Act on Parliament and the Rules of Procedure. The amendments to the parliamentary regulation serve the purpose of silencing the opposition parties which have been constantly gaining strength in the last few months.

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Why We Have Sued the Hungarian Parliament

The President of the Hungarian Parliament has restricted journalistic reporting on the premises of the Parliament to a point where it has become virtually impossible for journalists to do their job. Bea Bakó, chief editor of the news site azonnali.hu, on the limitations journalists have to face in Hungary, and why they are taking the President of Parliament to court.

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Undemocratic but Formally Lawful: The Suspension of the Polish Parliament

While the attention of many constitutional law scholars has been on the UK Government’s decision to prorogue Parliament and first judicial responses, the Polish Sejm’s plenary sitting has been unexpectedly suspended and postponed until after the general elections of 13 October 2019. The decision has a precedential nature. For the first time since the Polish Constitution entered into force, the ‘old’ Sejm is sitting while the ‘new’ Sejm will be waiting for an opening. Although this decision is formally compliant with the Polish Constitution, it is nonetheless undemocratic and raises some serious questions about the motivation behind this move.

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Prorogation is a Paper Tiger, but Time is the Elephant

There are 15 weeks left until the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU. A new leader of the Conservative party, and so de facto Prime Minister, will be chosen by party members and presented to Parliament just before it plans to rise for summer recess on 25 July. A point of distinction between the two candidates for Conservative leadership is on the exercise of a power to prorogue Parliament in order to ensure the UK’s withdrawal on 31 October 2019: Jeremy Hunt will not use the power, Boris Johnson will not rule it out. The threat of prorogation, if serious, could prove a catalyst for constitutional crisis.

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Mehr als nur Formalien: zur Vermittlungsausschuss-Entscheidung des BVerfG

Das Grundgesetz formalisiert den Vorgang der Gesetzgebung. Es pocht auf Gleichheit, Pluralismus, Inklusivität und inhaltliche Offenheit, verpflichtet zu Öffentlichkeit und politischer Verantwortlichkeit, zur Repräsentanz der Opposition und gewährt den Abgeordneten grundsätzlich gleiche Teilhaberechte. Das macht den politischen Prozess schwerfällig und hat für die handelnden Akteure Transaktionskosten. Die Formalisierung des Gesetzgebungsprozesses begrenzt entlang legitimatorischer Erwägungen die legislative Handlungsfähigkeit. Deswegen sind informale politische Prozesse, die außerhalb des verfassungsrechtlichen Gesetzgebungsverfahrens stattfinden, wichtig: Von den Beteiligten organisierte Praktiken tragen zur Funktionsfähigkeit des demokratischen Verfahrens bei, indem sie mehrheitsfähige legislative Politiken finden. Vor diesem Hintergrund ist die gestrige Entscheidung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts in Sachen Vermittlungsausschuss von besonderem Interesse. Wie eng – so die zu entscheidende Frage – ist der Vermittlungsausschuss von Bundestag und Bundesrat an diese vermeintlichen Formalien gebunden, wenn er seine Arbeit möglichst effizient zu organisieren versucht?

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