“Should I Stay Open or Should I Close? World Legislatures during the First Wave of Covid-19”, Israel Waismel-Manor et al. (Sciences Po CEE, France)

Covid-19 has shocked governance systems worldwide. Legislatures, in particular, have been shut down or limited due to the pandemic, yet with divergence from one country to another. In this article, we report results from a cross-sectional quantitative analysis of legislative activity during the initial reaction to this shock and identify the factors accounting for such variation.

Exploring legislatures across 159 countries, we find no relation between the severity of Covid-19 and limitations on legislatures’ operation, thus suggesting that legislatures are at risk of being shut down or limited due to policy “overreaction” and that a health risk may serve as an excuse for silencing them.

However, we find that legislatures in democratic countries are relatively immune to this risk, while those in frail democracies are more exposed. In partially free countries, the use of technology can mitigate this risk. We also find that the coalitional features of the government may lead to legislatures’ closing.

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