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Will Germany make use of its Emergency Acts in light of COVID-19?


In 1968 the First Grand Coalition of the Federal Republic of Germany passed the German Emergency Act, changing, adding or removing more than two dozen paragraphs in their Basic Law (constitution). These would allow the federal government to limit basic rights and liberties as well as freedom of movement, enforce federal law on the states, use of armed forces within Germany to put down insurgencies, and so forth. At the same time, and to assuage worries of critics, the act also introduced the right to resist, which granted the "right to resist any person seeking to abolish this constitutional order if no other remedy is available."

All this was necessary due to Germany’s problematic history with emergency acts and enabling acts, in particular during the Weimar Republic and the consequences that followed.

As such the emergency powers granted by the German Emergency Act were handled very carefully by current and past governments. For instance: Only under need of substantial help in catastrophic circumstances like the 1997 Oder Flood were soldiers ever deployed within German borders.

Further complicated is this by the lack of consensus positions and opinions in constitutional law, since these powers were very rarely needed, let alone used.

Yet the German government retains these capabilities, hesitant as it may be, to issue decrees that overrule, countermand and limit states rights and powers if the federal government deems them necessary in light of catastrophic circumstances.

As the saying goes, sometimes needs must.

Will Germany make use of its Emergency Acts in light of COVID-19?

  • Resolves positively if the Federal government infringes on states rights and powers in direct relation to COVID-19 before 2022.
  • Resolves negatively if such an infringement doesn’t happen.
  • Resolves ambiguously if an emergency acts / decrees infringement occurs during the 2020 pandemic that is not immediately related to COVID-19.
  • This question will close retroactively 3 days before such an emergency act or decree is announced, whether it’s actually applied or not.

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