12 Mai 2020

VB Live: „Schaffen wir das?“ – COVID-19 as a Crisis for German Law and Politics

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented constitutional challenges to states worldwide, and to their regional and international cooperation. The Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) and Verfassungsblog are bringing together internationally recognized experts in a three-part online discussion series to reflect on these challenges and ways to address them.

Session I: 12 May 2020, 4:00 – 5:45 pm

„Schaffen wir das?“ – COVID-19 as a Crisis for German Law and Politics

In Germany, fundamental rights are currently being curtailed on a massive scale for what the great majority deems the „greater good“ – the stability of the public health system. Moreover, the legislator enacted amendments to the Infektionsschutzgesetz that provide the Federal Minister of Health with sweeping quasi-legislative powers in case of a national epidemic. As the measures are slowly being lifted, this panel will draw preliminary conclusions from the current crisis and discuss what the German constitutional order and the German political system will look like after COVID-19.


SABINE LEUTHEUSSER-SCHNARRENBERGER (former German Federal Minister of Justice)

COVID-19 and the German Constitutional Order


The Emergency Regulations of the Grundgesetz: Fit for a Pandemic?

CHRISTOPH MÖLLERS (Humboldt University Berlin / Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin)

The Bundestag and COVID-19

ANDREA RÖMMELE (Hertie School Berlin)

COVID-19 and its implications for the German political (party) system

ANIKA KLAFKI (Friedrich Schiller University of Jena)

The amendments to the Infektionsschutzgesetz: an antidote with deadly side effects?

Moderation: Maximilian Steinbeis

The audience is warmly encouraged to participate and ask questions, either by leaving a comment here on VB, or via Twitter by using the hashtag #IFHV.

Next sessions:

19 May 2020 – 4:00 – 5:45 pm

Session II: „Whatever it takes“ – COVID-19 as an (existential) crisis for the European Union


26 May 2020 – 4:00 – 5:45 pm

Session III: „Universally respected but temporarily neglected“ – COVID-19 as a crisis for human rights and multilateralism


SUGGESTED CITATION  , : VB Live: „Schaffen wir das?“ – COVID-19 as a Crisis for German Law and Politics, VerfBlog, 2020/5/12, https://verfassungsblog.de/vb-live-schaffen-wir-das-covid-19-as-a-crisis-for-german-law-and-politics/.


  1. Marina Slhessarenko Barreto Di 12 Mai 2020 at 16:55 - Reply

    The crisis in Germany presents a different scenario from the rest of the world. The democracy is more stable and therefore some of the measures taken and the worries are different. The worries about the health of democracy and rule of law are similar, but in Brazil, for exemple, we worry about new legislation in this crisis situation or the declaration of a state of defense, since these measures could tighten the grip of the president.Could you please comment more about these differences? Thank you.

  2. Mark Dawson Di 12 Mai 2020 at 16:57 - Reply

    thanks for the great discussion! I have a more general question. What should be the role of Courts in policing public health emergencies in the German context? The difficulty is that most of what Courts can do is to say no to things. They can de-construct existing responses but do little to build alternatives. Even one of their alternatives roles – to ’nudge‘ policy-makers in certain directions over time – is limited by the need for quick responses that constantly adapt. As a result, legal intervention is likely to deplete judicial legitimacy. What is therefore the role of constitutional review in the COVID-19 crisis?

  3. Marina Slhessarenko Fraife Barreto Di 12 Mai 2020 at 17:04 - Reply

    not necessary to translate, thank you!

  4. G.Reissner Di 12 Mai 2020 at 17:10 - Reply

    It was said that in Germany a provision like Art 15 ECHR or 4 ICCPR is missing, how should such provision be formulated and how and by whom should it be applied (declared).

  5. Eva Johais Di 12 Mai 2020 at 17:18 - Reply

    Question to Andrea Römmele:
    Mrs Römmele argued that after an initial phase of support to the government, the crisis will reinforce polarization. However, I would like to know whether / why she thinks that this polarization will follow the cleavages that have mattered before the crisis. For instance, the protesters against the COVID-19 measures come from various political camps. Thus, how can we know if this actually translates into support for certain parties? Thank you.

  6. Timeela Manandhar Di 12 Mai 2020 at 17:22 - Reply

    A question relating to COVID-19 and our understanding of democracy: The right to assembly and association has been restricted to a great extend in the fight against COVID-19, even on the politically important 1st of May. On the other side, institutionalised politics and the administration were less affected. While both elements are essential for a functioning democracy, less formalised political movements were made quite difficult to exercise. However, if we think of  nongovernmental civil political movement’s main political asset, it is the possibility to bring their protest to the streets. 

    Does the different degree to which institutionalised and button-up-movements are affected by the COVID-measures reflect a misbalanced understanding of democracy? And does such a understanding maybe fuel the extreme and unsubstantiated movements that sadly are emerging now?

  7. Kerstin Tober Di 12 Mai 2020 at 17:25 - Reply

    Hi, great discussion, thank you !
    I am confused though: Is ARD and ZDF government TV ? Are ARD extra and ZDF Spezial government proclamations ? I must have misunderstood. Maybe Ms. Römmele could follow up ?

  8. Carolin Di 12 Mai 2020 at 17:28 - Reply

    Compared to other European countries (e.g. Italy, France) a critical fundamental rights discourse was present in the German mainstream media right from the beginning of the crisis. I think that this awareness of fundamental rights is one of the reasons why Germany’s measures were, from a comparative perspective, quite light.

  9. Teresa Violante Di 12 Mai 2020 at 17:32 - Reply

    Do you think that countries that contemplate constitutional emergency mechanisms should still be operating under that framework? What would be the dividing lines to differentiate between a generalized emergency and less serious situations that can be managed at the executive level without much jeopardy to the separation of powers?

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