This article examines how decision-makers’ commitment to a culture of justification is central to avoiding emergency mismanagement via underreach, overreach or their combination.
Max Steuer, Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India; Department of Political Science, Comenius University in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia.
Previous research has neglected how repeated declarations of states of emergency (SsoE) in response to the same emergency may combine with executive overreach and underreach within a single jurisdiction, undermining the authority of the SsoE as a legal institution and increasing the vulnerability of the constitutional system as a result. This article examines how decision-makers’ commitment to a culture of justification is central to avoiding emergency mismanagement via underreach, overreach or their combination.
The simultaneous instances of executive overreach and underreach as emergency management failures are studied via the Slovak case, which was celebrated for its initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic but castigated for its failure to contain the subsequent waves. The analysis of the legal framework of the SsoE and the justifications for SsoE declarations uncovers the lack of justifications for the patterns of simultaneous executive underreach and overreach, underscoring the elusiveness of these categories.
The limited justifications for the decisions demonstrated by the “government in panic” point to the undermining of the SsoE as a legal institution. The article concludes with highlighting how leaders’ role conceptions as democratic emergency managers might be necessary to sustain the authority of the SsoE.
Published in: European Journal of Risk Regulation
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