Democratic constitutionalism in times of crisis: Why the pandemic threatens democracy rather than rights

In order to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, governments took several measures that restrict, sometimes severely, fundamental rights. While the measures themselves raise serious rule-of-law concerns, the way they are taken, procedurally, raise in some cases even greater democratic concerns. Restrictions, after all, are expected to be temporary; the way they are decided however may accelerate tendencies that enable backsliding into authoritarian constitutionalism. Decisions tend to be made by governments rather that parliaments, by central rather than local authorities, by stealth rather than transparently, restrictively and repressively rather than proactively. Examining Greece as its case study the paper argues that democratic constitutionalism, with its emphasis on transparency, public deliberation and greater popular participation in decision-making, is even more necessary in times of crisis, in order to prevent making crisis-management into a pretense for authoritarianism.