The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is extremely contagious and currently incurable. Hence, much of the efforts to contain the pandemic have focused on social distancing, prohibiting gatherings, and enforcing curfews.
This poses a dual challenge for legislatures. First, it makes it difficult for parliaments to operate as they require assembling large groups of people together to deliberate and vote. Second, it creates a sense of emergency that empowers the executive branch to exercise greater authority at the expenses of the legislature.
Yet, the continued operation of parliaments and the maintenance of legislative oversight over the executive have never been more vital. This report explains that dual challenge and then focuses on the Israeli Parliament. It shows how the combination of the Coronavirus pandemic and the political situation in Israel have made the issue of parliamentary operation especially acute and urgent.
Drawing on networks of expert academics and parliamentary research centers, the report also presents a comparative overview on the current parliamentary activity of 26 countries. It demonstrates how legislatures are beginning to modify and adapt to meet this challenge.
The report was written by Dr. Ittai Bar-Siman-Tov, Associate Professor at the Bar-Ilan University School of Law, Israel.
Read and download the report here.