International
News-ticker: Democracy & Corona

On this page, we are collecting all recent news stories related to how the measures to stop the spread of the Corona-virus are impacting our democracies.

26.05.2020 – Foreign Policy

Will Bolsonaro Play the Price for a Botched Pandemic Response?

Brazil now has the second highest number of coronavirus cases globally, and the president’s approval rating keeps slipping.

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26.5.2020 – Channel News Asia

COVID-19: As Chinese authorities expand use of health tracking apps, privacy concerns grow

China’s health tracking QR codes, implemented initially to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which automatically collect travel and medical data, is now being proposed to become a permanent part of the healthcare system.

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22.05.2020 – Foreign Policy

The Coronavirus Is Delaying Elections Worldwide

Dozens of countries are opting to postpone elections for the sake of public health.

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20.5.2020 – Wall Street Journal

Freedom and Sweden’s Constitution

The country’s laissez-faire response to the coronavirus pandemic has deep roots in both culture and law

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15.5.2020 – Spiegel International

Berlin Fears Populists Will Exploit Protest Movement

A vocal minority in Germany opposes the restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including right-wing radicals, but also people at the center of society. How can the government best address the protest government

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14.5.2020 – Foreign Policy

I Criticized My University’s Ties to the Chinese Government. Now I Face Expulsion

Australian institutions’ financial ties to China means ditching values. In the face of the Chinese government attempting to encroach on the freedoms attributed to Hong Kong citizens, a student at the University of Queensland who critiqued human rights breaches is being silenced.

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11.05.2020 – Radio Free Europe

As Countries Emerge From COVID-19 Lockdowns, Debates Emerge On How, When To Hold Elections

From Russia, Iran, and the Balkans to presidential primaries in 16 U.S. states, elections around the world have been postponed by coronavirus restrictions.

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08.05.2020 – European Western Balkans

Media freedom shrinks in Southeast Europe due to COVID-19 crisis

Excessive government control, democratic backsliding built on the pre-existing trend of media capture and shrinking of space for media freedoms are the striking similar consequences when it comes to the imposed COVID-19 measures across the Southeast Europe (SEE).

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8.5.2020 – New York Times

E.U. faces new criticism over China’s censorship of opinion piece

The European Union faces new embarrassment and criticism over its clumsy efforts to stay on the good side of China while promoting itself as a defender of transparency and the rule of law.

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7.5.2020 – Aljazeera

Poland postpones presidential vote amid coronavirus lockdown

President Duda ahead in polls originally set on Sunday but pandemic left uncertainty about voting and his future.

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7.5.2020 – Wall Street Journal

Israeli Leader Netanyahu Gets Mandate to Form Government

Amidst Coronavirus epidemic Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to be sworn in next week as he heads towards his corruption trial.

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6.5.2020 – Spiegel International

China Is Happy to Fill the Leadership Vacuum Left by the U.S.

In the global jostling amid the coronavirus crisis, Beijing is extending its influence while U.S. President Donald Trump continues to squander America's leadership role. The pandemic could mark the beginning of a new Chinese era. 

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4.5.2020 – Wall Street Journal

Some US-States Dabble in Online Voting, Weighing Pandemic Against Cybersecurity Concerns

With the potential resurgence of the coronavirus in the fall of 2020, many are questioning how they will vote in November without jeopardizing their health. Some lawmakers are calling for universal voting by mail, while others are saying it’s not worth the risk.

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28.04.2020 – Swissinfo

Why social trust beats big government in fighting the virus

It is the hour of big government, as executives navigate societies around the world through the wild waters of the Covid-19 pandemic. And while some governments are misusing the momentum to not only fight the virus but also attack democratic rights, others are anchoring their strategies on a fundamental public asset – social trust.

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28.04.2020 – Human Rights Watch

Poland: Make Vote for President Free, Fair, Safe

Ensure That All Who Qualify Are Able to Vote.

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27.04.2020 – Amnesty International

Burundi: Election campaigns kick-off amid COVID-19, harassment and tension

Political campaigning ahead of the 20 May presidential elections officially kicks off in Burundi today against a backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued intimidation of people by the Imbonerakure youth wing of the ruling party, the National Council for Defence of Democracy – Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD).

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27.04.2020 – Reuters

Coronavirus stirs rancour in South Africa on democracy anniversary

South Africa’s divisions over race and wealth inequality, which the COVID-19 crisis had briefly sidelined, returned to the fore on Monday’s 26th anniversary of the end of apartheid.

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27.04.2020 – Swissinfo

Coronavirus tests Swiss political system

In mid-March, as the first cases of Covid-19 crossed the Alps from Lombardy in nearby Italy, Swiss lawmakers abandoned the spring session of the federal assembly. The doors of the neo-classical parliament building in Bern have been closed since on the advice of the health authorities.

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24.04.2020 – Global Voices

COVID-19 in the Middle East: Is this pandemic a health crisis or a war?

War analogies drive patronizing, alarming language that generates division

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23.04.2020 – Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy

Elections in the time of Covid-19

The international Coronavirus outbreak has serious implications for democracy worldwide. In the #NeverLockdownDemocracy blog series, the NIMD network takes a global view of how we can respond to the pandemic as we continue our work to protect democracy. Follow @WeAreNIMD on Twitter and the hashtag #NeverLockdownDemocracy to never miss a post.

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22.04.2020 – ABC News

As coronavirus upends elections, ballot access becomes next point of concern

Third parties, ballot initiatives hit roadblocks without in-person petitioning.

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22.04.2020 – Zócalo

A Letter From Bonn, Where Quiet Calm Meets COVID

A Powerful and Transparent Health System—And a Confident Chancellor—Counteract a Crisis

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21.04.2020 – Verfassungsblog

State of Emergency Through the Back Door

Banning Fake News in Indonesia During the Spread of COVID-19

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20.04.2020 – The Guardian

Peru: riot police block highway as people attempt to flee amid lockdown

Police also fired teargas into crowds of people as country’s coronavirus lockdown entered sixth week

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20.04.2020 – ANSA

Local elections put off till Sep-Dec (2)

Cabinet decides to postpone next round of votes

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20.04.2020 – Human Rights Watch

Hong Kong: Crackdown Amid Covid-19

Beijing ‘Reinterprets’ City’s Constitution, Punishes Democracy Advocates

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20.04.2020 – Hong Kong Free Press

Explainer: Beijing’s 5-day crackdown on Hong Kong’s opposition during covid-19

With world’s attention focused on the coronavirus pandemic and protesters off the streets, Chinese and Hong Kong authorities stepped up their efforts to crack down on the pro-democracy movement in the semi-autonomous territory.

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20.04.2020 – RNZ

Bougainville looking to delay election up to two months

Bougainville's government is planning to delay the regional election by up to two months because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

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20.04.2020 – Governing.com

The 2020 Elections: Is America Ready to Vote by Mail?

The pandemic has raised concerns about keeping this year’s voting process healthy and safe. Allowing voters to send in their ballots by mail could be the answer, but it will be costly and some worry about potential fraud.

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19.04.2020 – Haaretz

Two Thousand Israelis Brave Coronavirus Fears to Protest Assault on Democracy

Organizers of the 'Black Flag' protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv were required to mark spots for people to maintain distance from each other and provide face masks

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19.04.2020 – RFI

Mali votes in election runoff amid coronavirus and jihadist threats

Mali has begun voting in the final round of legislative elections, aimed at restoring faith in its unstable institutions. Sunday's ballot goes ahead despite the continued spread of the coronavirus and persistent jihadist violence, including during the first round vote. 

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18.04.2020 – Hungarian Spectrum

One of Viktor Orbán’s first Enabling Act decrees was issued yesterday

The Orbán government often presents legislative proposals to parliament when the chamber is empty. This is what happened on the last two occasions, when Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén presented proposals to parliament which had nothing to do with the coronavirus. Another favorite trick is to release new government decrees and regulations late Friday night, when the few newspapers that still exist have already gone to press. No newspapers appear on Sunday, and therefore the news, which is no longer fresh, will appear only on Monday morning.

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We are monitoring the impact of the measures to halt the Coronavirus on our democracies.

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16.04.2020 – CBS News

Fears of eroding democracy in Eastern Europe as Poland's government pushes for a coronavirus election

While the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, there are concerns that some world leaders are exploiting the crisis for political gain. Despite the outbreak and lockdown in the country, Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) plans to go ahead with the presidential election set to take place on May 10.

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16.04.2020 – The Atlantic

America’s COVID-19 Disaster Is a Setback for Democracy

If the country’s institutions cannot function effectively during a crisis, and especially if a view takes hold that authoritarian regimes are managing the crisis more decisively, a grim future lies ahead.

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16.04.2020 – African Arguments

Sweeping powers and a transition on ice: Pandemic politics in Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s state of emergency gives it both vague wide-ranging powers and an impending political headache.

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16.04.2020 – The New York Times

This Is How to Hold a Coronavirus Election

South Korea has been a model of testing and tracing during the epidemic. Now it is for voting, too.

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16.04.2020 – BBC

South Korea election: Ruling party wins amid coronavirus outbreak

The party of South Korean President Moon Jae-in has won a decisive victory in parliamentary elections, with voters backing the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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15.04.2020 – Swissinfo

Funding the World Health Organization: where the US money goes

The United States has temporarily suspended its funding to the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a look at most recent US contributions to the UN health agency and how the money was spent.

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15.04.2020 – The Guardian

New Zealand's Covid-19 strategy looks successful, but we must safeguard democracy

Civil society, the media and the parliamentary system – which normally keep a check on government – are now seriously weakened

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15.04.2020 – The Guardian

The tech ‘solutions’ for coronavirus take the surveillance state to the next level

The role of the digital revolutionaries is to disrupt everything but the central institution of modern life: the market

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14.04.2020 – The Guardian

Concerns over Polish government tightening abortion laws during Covid-19 crisis

With street protests now an impossibility, human rights groups fear that Poland’s conservative government will push through ‘dangerous legislation’

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14.04.2020 – Time

We Can't Let the Virus Infect Democracy

All around the world, leaders are gaining more power. That’s what this pandemic demands: a coordinated whole-of-nation approach with a powerful conductor at its center. We have to be careful, though, that the measures we are taking to tackle this global crisis don’t bring about another one: the death of democracy as we know it.

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14.04.2020 – The Guardian

South Korea votes in first national election of coronavirus era

Widespread approval of President Moon Jae-in’s handling of crisis could boost his party’s chances

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13.04.2020 – The Guardian

'Hybrid' virtual parliament plans to be put to MPs next week

MPs likely to be able to speak in Commons via video conferencing technology under plans

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12.04.2020 – Financial Times

EU must call out the follies of Poland’s Covid-19 election

A perfectly appropriate and entirely legal way of postponing the poll exists

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12.04.2020 – The East African

Democracy put to the test as poll body in Ethiopia hides behind virus

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted Ethiopia’s plans to hold elections on August 29, but the decision to postpone the poll remains controversial.

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We are monitoring the impact of the measures to halt the Coronavirus on our democracies.

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09.04.2020 – BBC

Coronavirus in Africa: Emergency laws v individual rights

Armed variously with guns, whips and tear gas canisters, security officers in several African countries have been beating, harassing and, in some cases, killing people as they enforce measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.

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09.04.2020 – Central Asia News

Kazakh Civil Rights Activists Under Pressure Amid Coronavirus Spread

Civil rights activists in Kazakhstan have been under mounting pressure in the past several days as authorities impose even stricter controls to slow the spread of coronavirus.

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07.04.2020 – Global voices

Serbian government revokes controversial COVID-19-related decree used as pretext to arrests journalists

A journalist was recently arrested for "inciting panic and unrest"

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07.04.2020 – Balkan Insight

How Democracies Can Beat the Pandemic

Contrary to popular belief, the coronavirus crisis has not strengthened the case for authoritarianism. Rather, it has shown the need for national unity governments.

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07.04.2020 – BBC

Poland plans May election despite pandemic

Poland’s lawmakers have voted to ensure its presidential election scheduled for May goes ahead, despite coronavirus.

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07.04.2020 - Quartz

How South Korea is running a nationwide election in the midst of a pandemic

As countries around the world have delayed elections due to the coronavirus pandemic, South Korea is going ahead with voting next week, as it tries to balance its obligations both to civil liberties and to public health.

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07.04.2020 – The Wall Street Journal

Wisconsin Holds Election Despite Coronavirus After Efforts to Delay Failed

Many other states have postponed elections to comply with public-health recommendations to avoid crowds

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07.04.2020 – The Guardian

'Coronavirus doesn't respect barbed wire': concern mounts for Greek camps

Calls grow for EU countries to accept refugees as outbreaks fuel fears that virus could rampage through overcrowded facilities

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05.04.2020 – CNN

Taiwan's coronavirus response is among the best globally

On January 25, as the world was still waking up to the potential danger of the novel coronavirus spreading rapidly out of central China, two governments recorded four new infections within their territory.

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03.04.2020 – The Guardian

'They're leaving us to die': Ecuadorians' plead for help as virus blazes deadly trail

Dead bodies kept in homes or dumped on roadsides as authorities and hospitals are overwhelmed by Covid-19 in Andean nation’s second city

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03.04.2020 – BBC

Coronavirus: Peru limits movement by gender to stem spread

Peru has begun enforcing strict new measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease, restricting public movement by gender.

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03.04.2020 – The Globe and Mail

When viruses threaten, the strongest disinfectant is democracy

If you want to see bold leadership in the fight against this pandemic, look no further than Turkmenistan, where dictator Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov put his foot down and banned any use, in conversation or print, of the word “coronavirus.”

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We are monitoring the impact of the measures to halt the Coronavirus on our democracies.

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02.04.2020 – Americas Quarterly

How to Think About the Lockdown Decision in Latin America

Closing a country is a moral dilemma, and it goes deeper than whether we are choosing lives over the economy.

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02.04.2020 – The Guardian

Democratic leaders win surge of approval during Covid-19 crisis

Political scientists warn ‘rally round flag’ effect won’t last and populist parties will bounce back

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02.04.2020 - Balkan Insight

Why Populists Love the Pandemic

Illiberal politicians in Hungary, Poland and beyond are exploiting the coronavirus crisis to bolster their power.

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02.04.2020 - BBC

Coronavirus: Commons Speaker calls for 'virtual Parliament'

MPs should be able to take part in Prime Minister's Questions and debates via video if they are unable to return to work, Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said.

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01.04.2020 – The Guardian

Teargas, beatings and bleach: the most extreme Covid-19 lockdown controls around the world

Violence and humiliation used to police coronavirus curfews around globe, often affecting the poorest and more vulnerable.

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01.04.2020 - Hungarian Spectrum

Decrees that have nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic

In the dead of night, after parliament passed “On protecting against the coronavirus” and President János Áder signed it into law after two hours of “hard constitutional scrutiny,” Zsolt Semjén, deputy prime minister, turned in 15 new legislative proposals, none of which had anything to do with the coronavirus pandemic. If it hadn’t been clear before, by this morning it became obvious that Viktor Orbán’s “enabling act” was designed to give the government the freedom to deal with contentious issues without any interference.

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01.04.2020 - Swissinfo

Hail to the expert? Modern Direct democracy in times of crisis

One of the new rituals in Switzerland is the almost daily Covid-19 press conference, where ministry officials in Bern line up to report on how the virus is affecting the country.

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We are monitoring the impact of the measures to halt the Coronavirus on our democracies.

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31.03.2020 - Balkan Insight

Hungary ‘No Longer a Democracy’ After Coronavirus Law

Unlimited emergency powers granted to Prime Minister Viktor Orban have taken Hungary a step closer to dictatorship, critics say. How low can Orban go?

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31.03.2020 – BBC

Coronavirus: World leaders' posts deleted over fake news

Facebook and Twitter have deleted posts from world leaders for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.

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31.03.2020 - Reuters

Ethiopia postpones August election due to coronavirus

Ethiopia has postponed parliamentary elections scheduled for August due to the coronavirus outbreak, the electoral board said on Tuesday, a move endorsed by some key opposition parties.

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30.03.2020 – BBC

Coronavirus: India's pandemic lockdown turns into a human tragedy

When I spoke to him on the phone, he had just returned home to his village in the northern state of Rajasthan from neighbouring Gujarat, where he worked as a mason.

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30.03.2020 – Democratic Audit

Elections and Covid-19: making democracy work in uncertain times

Erik Asplund and Toby James discuss the dilemmas countries around the globe face about holding or postponing elections during the pandemic, and set out some guidelines to follow in ensuring democratic participation remains fair and open during the crisis.

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30.03.2020 - Global Voices

COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects digital rights in the Balkans

Government measures are flouting human rights standards

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30.03.2020 - Verfassungsblog

Fighting COVID 19 – Legal Powers and Risks: Spain

A global health crisis, broadcasted almost instantly, arguably ensures that most citizens accept health recommendations responsibly, and no coercive measures are needed for them to take precautions. In fact, the first decisions made by the Spanish health authorities with respect to COVID-19 were passed through documents with no regulatory value.

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We are monitoring the impact of the measures to halt the Coronavirus on our democracies.

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29.03.2020 - CNN

Experts are warning coronavirus puts the integrity of the 2020 election at risk. Here's what could happen in November

As states scramble to delay their spring primaries, election professionals and voting experts are anxiously looking ahead to November and warning that the coronavirus pandemic is already threatening the safety and integrity of the next presidential election.

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28.03.2020 - US news

Poland's PiS Change Electoral Rules Ahead of Presidential Vote

Poland's ruling nationalists fast-tracked changes to the electoral code through parliament in the early hours of Saturday in a bid to press ahead with presidential elections in May which have been criticized by opposition parties who want the vote to be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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28.03.2020 - Swissinfo

How Covid-19 has hit democracy worldwide

The ongoing pandemic has put the entire world on hold. Public activities have been cancelled – even the release of the newest James Bond movie – while popular votes around the globe have been postponed. However, there is no reasons for autocrats, nationalists and populists to declare victory.  

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27.03.2020 - Southeast Asia Globe

Cambodia’s COVID-19 “fake news” crackdown

The Cambodian government has undertaken a recent spate of arrests, charging people with spreading "fake news" regarding COVID-19. Rights groups have expressed concern that this is merely a pretext for a clampdown on political dissent.

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27.03.2020 - The Guardian

Trump administration allows companies to break pollution laws during coronavirus pandemic

Extraordinary move signals to US companies that they will not face any sanctions for polluting the air or water.

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27.03.2020 - Swissinfo

How the virus puts the Swiss political system to test

News conferences and statements by politicians these days allow observers a privileged insight into the inner workings of the Swiss political system and the balance of power between the national and the regional (or cantonal) authorities.

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26.03.2020 - International IDEA

Elections and COVID-19

The global spread of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus disease) has profoundly impacted on the delivery of public services and routine events that are integral to inclusive societies. Electoral processes are one such event.

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24.03.2020 - Verfassungsblog

An Election in the Time of Pandemic

In Poland, the Law and Justice (PiS) government has opted not to use its constitutional power to declare a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 spreading.

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We are monitoring the impact of the measures to halt the Coronavirus on our democracies.

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24.03.2020 - The Guardian

'Wartime' coronavirus powers could hurt our democracy – without keeping us safe

During a war, the liberal democratic order is temporary suspended. We must proceed with care.

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24.03.2020 - Reporters Without Borders

“If the Chinese press were free, the coronavirus might not be a pandemic,” argues RSF

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows that, without the control and censorship imposed by the authorities, the Chinese media would have informed the public much earlier of the severity of the coronavirus epidemic, sparing thousands of lives and perhaps avoiding the current pandemic.

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24.03.2020 - Human Rights Watch

Lockdowns or Crackdowns? Daily Brief

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23.03.2020 - The Guardian

Hungary to consider bill that would allow Orbán to rule by decree

Government says legislation is a necessary response to coronavirus but critics fear it is open to abuse.

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22.03.2020 - New York Times

Guinea Holds Contentious Referendum Despite Coronavirus Outbreak

Despite the threat of coronavirus and an opposition boycott, a constitutional referendum was held in Guinea on Sunday that opponents of President Alpha Conde fear could allow him to govern for 12 more years.

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21.03.2020 - New York Times

Bolivia Postpones Elections, Announces Nationwide 14-Day Quarantine to Stem Spread of Coronavirus

Bolivia's interim government announced on Saturday it would postpone presidential elections originally slated for May 3 and institute a mandatory countrywide quarantine for 14 days as coronavirus spread across the Andean nation.

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20.03.2020 - The Atlantic

Democracies Must Learn to Work From Home

The coronavirus is forcing everyone to adapt. Governments should be no different.

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20.03.2020 - Verfassungsblog

Fighting COVID 19 – Legal Powers and Risks: Germany

Germany is in the middle of the global Corona Crisis. Currently, about 11,000 people are infected with the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and 20 people have died of Covid-19 in Germany. The DAX is experiencing price slumps similar to those experienced during the financial crisis in 2008. The following blogpost provides an overview of the relevant legal instruments in the fight against the virus.

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19.03.2020 - Washington Post

Freedom-of-speech restrictions could worsen coronavirus crisis: Watchdog

An independent democracy advocacy organization is warning that authoritarian regimes are using the global coronavirus outbreak to suppress freedoms of speech and restrict fundamental rights outside of the scope of public health needs.

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We are monitoring the impact of the measures to halt the Coronavirus on our democracies.

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The Swiss government has called off a planned nationwide ballot about a proposal to scrap an accord with the European Union on the free movement of people.

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17.03.2020 - Reuters

Chile may postpone referendum on new constitution as coronavirus quells protests

Chile may postpone a referendum on a new constitution scheduled for April 26 due to the coronavirus outbreak, Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel said on Tuesday.

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17.03.2020 - DPA

Armenia delays Constitutional Court referendum due to coronavirus

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Armenia has halted preparations for a referendum on removing judges from its Constitutional Court, which had been planned for next month, state media reported.

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15.03.2020 - The Guardian

France - local elections: Coronavirus causes French voters to stay away from local elections

Rate of abstention at popular municipal polls reaches 56% as number of confirmed cases rises to 5,400

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15.03.2020 - The Guardian

Georgia second US state to delay presidential primaries over coronavirus fears

Georgia, where Joe Biden is ahead of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race, joins Louisiana in pushing back voting as Covid-19 spread.


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11.03.2020 – The Washington Post

South Korea shows that democracies can succeed against the coronavirus

Some commentators are arguing that China’s coronavirus response attests to the superiority of its authoritarian brand of governance and crisis management. In reality, it turns out that democracies are better suited to protect public health — at least, when they take advantage of their inherent strengths.

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