In May 2022, the Academy of Sciences organized a workshop Revisiting Parliaments in Pandemics. Keynote speaker Sven T. Siefken presented first findings of the second wave of a global expert survey ‘Parliaments in Pandemics’. Conducted in 2020, 2021, and 2022, the survey focused on how the pandemic changed the legislatures’ roles and, in particular, electoral, legislative, oversight, communication and representation functions.
The event was supported by the Strategy AV21 of the Czech Academy of Sciences, research program No. 15 – Global Conflicts and Local Interactions: Cultural and Social Challenges, and organized in cooperation with IPSA RC08 Legislative Specialist and IPS FSV UK.
Workshop Abstract: During the Covid-19 pandemic, democracy worldwide continued to deteriorate. As established and new democracies faced unprecedented challenges to public health and the economy, their democratic quality declined. While established democracies could largely prevent pandemic erosion of democratic quality, democracies in transitions could not. Pandemic is an opportunity for executive aggrandizement –strengthening governments, weakening parliaments, and testing the judiciary. The pandemic challenges legislatures in multiple ways: testing institutional features and exacerbating pre-existing political tensions, the interaction between legislative and the executive branch – augmenting executive aggrandizement and pre-existing illiberal tendencies, redefines the relationship between legislatures and experts, functioning of the parliaments – increasing demands for modernization and digitalization of parliamentary procedures. In particular, the pandemic highlighted the tensions between the two competing logics: representation (emphasizing voice and individual MPs) and governance (emphasizing decision-making and accountability). While in non-pandemic times, these logics coexist, the pandemic exacerbated these tensions due to the scope and urgency of this crisis. During the crisis, governance logic prevails – focusing on decision-making and accountability to a lesser degree.