Slovakia’s States of Emergency and the COVID-19 Pan(dem)ic

This paper examines how repeated declarations of states of emergency (SsoE) in response to the same emergency may combine with executive overreach and underreach within a single jurisdiction. It does so via the case of Slovakia, celebrated for its response to the pandemic in the first wave, but castigated for its failure to contain the virus in the subsequent waves. During both periods, the executive utilized SsoE with the continuous support of the legislative and the Slovak Constitutional Court (SCC) majorities. Via analysis of the legal framework of the SsoE, the justifications for particular SoE declarations and the SCC’s responses, the paper shows that the instances of executive overreach during the first wave of the pandemic undermined the credibility of the SsoE and facilitated their combination with executive underreach during the subsequent waves. Thus, SsoE can go both with underreach and overreach, when a government is in panic.