The COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused millions to die and even more to lose their jobs, it has also prompted more governments to simultaneously declare a state of emergency than ever before enabling us to compare their decisions more directly. States of emergency usually imply the extension of executive powers that diminishes the powers of other branches of government, as well as to the civil liberties of individuals. Here, we analyze the use of emergency provisions during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and find that it can be largely explained by drawing on political economy. It does, hence, not constitute an exception. We show that many governments have (mis-)used the pandemic as a pretext to curtail media freedom. We further show that executive decrees are considered as a substitute for states of emergency by many governments.
Keywords: COVID-19; Constitutional emergency provisions; Executive decrees; Media freedom; State of emergency.
© The Author(s) 2021.