Constitutional self-restraint in times of crisis

Constitutional democracy is a decent way through which pluralistic societies can find compromise and peace; two goals that area valuable by themselves. But the achievement of these is not inherent to the constitutional mechanism; something more is needed in order for their realization. What is needed is constitutional self-restraint -an informal norm that states that political actors must refrain themselves from using their constitutional tools -tools that they legally have- to the extent of obstructing their adversaries and rendering impossible for them to exercise their roles in government.

The lack of self-restraint is always problematic, but specially in times of political crises, like the ones that a disruptive event as a pandemic can cause. In this presentation, I will argue that crises show us more bluntly how actors have to exercise self-restraint in order to govern. Otherwise, peace in government can be put in jeopardy. I take the lack of self-restraint of Trump’s last months in office –not conceding the elections and fueling disruptive discourse- and the subsequent January 6th insurrection into the Capitol as an example of this dynamic.