Germany adapts law to coronavirus: a good move?
The German Bundestag and Bundesrat have approved an amendment to the Infection Protection Act in a fast-track procedure. A new paragraph lists concrete protective measures that can be put in place, such as bans on events, travel and contact restrictions and is loosely worded in order to keep the option open for further potential measures. The amendment is also intended to make it easier for courts to judge the legality of coronavirus rules.
Elements of an authoritarian democracy
German parliamentarism has dangerously weakened itself, the Frankfurter Rundschau criticises:
“Now coronavirus regulations passed by the government are subject to stricter requirements. Nevertheless there will be no real parliamentary participation to speak of. If the Bundestag wanted to rein in the government, it would have to repeal the declaration of an epidemic emergency entirely, even if it weren't appropriate to do so. Even in normal times, parliament too often nods through ready-made resolutions. This tendency is intensifying under the pressure of the crisis. Of course, it won't lead straight to the 'dictatorship' that the far-right fantasises about. But there are elements of what can be called - with only apparent contradiction - an 'authoritarian democracy'. No parliament should support that.”
An unprecedented encroachment on people's lives
wPolityce.pl is also highly critical of the new law:
“With this law, the government has given itself the right to restrict basic civil liberties under the pretext of fighting the epidemic. ... From now on Chancellor Merkel can forbid Germans to meet, to move from one place to another and to demonstrate. And the worst thing is that the parliament has given the government the power to govern the country by decree. This means that at present the separation of legislative and executive powers in Germany does not exist, or at least it has been severely restricted.”
Berlin is consolidating the rule of law
Lidové noviny compares politicians' powers in the fight against the coronavirus and comes to a different conclusion:
“Germany is showing that in a pandemic imposing a state of emergency, as has been done in the Czech Republic, France and elsewhere, is not the only path. ... Germany is one of the few countries where the courts have an important say in the fight against coronavirus. And where freedoms are enshrined in the constitution. Now the country has strengthened its constitution. According to the amended law a state of emergency cannot be declared without any further ado. ... What is better for society? To have such a solid constitution, or a state in which the government exploits the state of emergency according to its needs?”