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Endogenous Sources of Pandemic Governance : Executive Power and Lockdown Measures in Turkey, the United Kingdom and Germany

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted governments across the world to take unprecedented responses in an attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus – colloquially known as lockdowns. Adopting a contextually situated approach on the lockdown measures and powers in a cross-country analysis of Turkey, the United Kingdom and Germany, this paper pursues two arguments: First, it finds that the expansion of executive power during the COVID-19 pandemic is a common problem across different regime types and constitutional settlements. Based on this finding, the paper then contends that the expansion of executive power is informed and shaped by endogenous dynamics. Even when the executive branch does not appear motivated to pursue the augmentation of executive power in the beginning, a number of mutually reinforcing processes and dynamics may lead to rule them assertively, to assume more prerogative powers and to further undermine the accountability mechanisms. Such processes and dynamics include: (1) the nature of the threat and the technocratic manifestations of the COVID-19 emergency which both required unprecedented responses and affected different branches of government differently; (2) the ‘rally-around-the-flag’ high public support towards governments and political leaders which provided incentives to take even far-reaching pandemic measures, and (3) the failing authority of the World Health Organization in managing and coordinating the global risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic which stoked nationalist pandemic responses. The findings of the paper suggest that the conventional (constitutional) theory in health emergencies underwent a reinvention to the detriment of institutional checks and balances, parliamentary supervision and judicial independence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering the endogeneity of the crisis, and the fact that an era of emergencies is set to bear down on us, there is alarming signals that executive over-reach will become more prevalent in future health emergencies.

Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic, executive power, Turkey, Germany, UK, emergency



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re:constitution Working Papers


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