Federalism and COVID-19: the German model put to test

As Germany is constituted as a federation, it is primarily the federal states (Länder) that have been shaping the image of pandemic control in Germany. In the absence of a declaration of a state of emergency, the Länder managed the crisis caused by COVID-19 mainly on the basis of administrative law instruments. Although an attempt was made to avoid a dispersion of measures to combat COVID-19 in the different Länder especially by means of (informal) cooperation and coordination models between the federal government and the Länder, these were not always successful and sufficient. In order to counter the criticism of the lack of coordination, the federal Government and the German Parliament changed the relevant legislation, especially the Infection Protection Act, several times. However, serious doubts have been raised on whether these changes made with the objective to centralize the crisis management are constitutional.

The Argentinian experience in the fight against the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus: an analysis of the federalism structure

The article analyzes how Argentine federalism worked within the framework of the pandemic generated by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The interactions between the national government and the provinces mutated from a federalism of coordination with centralizing features to one of cooperation, which is novel and positive considering that historically Argentine federalism was tinged with centralist features. Perhaps, the pandemic will serve as an opportunity to implement the type of cooperative federalism that impregnated the Constitutional reform in 1994.

The (Less) United States: Federalism & Decentralization in the Era of COVID-19

How did the federal government and state governments respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? The history of U.S. federalism suggests that the federal government will centralize in times of crisis, commandeering its states and setting specific economic and health precedents. Yet we argue that the U.S. federal government decentralized in response to the 2020 pandemic crisis, encouraging states to set their own economic and health standards. In this paper, we explore the federal government’s decentralized response to COVID-19, and chart states’ efforts at crisis mitigation. We find that great variation exists between states’ responses, variation that illustrates the “price of federalism,” with states offering their citizens very different responses to the COVID-19 crises, and worsening inequalities that predated the pandemic era.

Brazilian federation on the move: opportunism and decentralization to face the COVID-19 pandemic

This article analyzes the challenges faced by the Brasilian Federal State during the health crisis. The historical roots of centralization and the actual constitutional design that tends to decentralization, appear at the pandemic as facing its limits. The National Congress, subnational governments (SG), and the Federal Supreme Court (FSC) acted as important players in this field, given the omissions and excesses performed by the Federal Government (FG). The fragility of the cooperation between the entities, deepened by the anti-scientific and negationist trajectory of the FG, is a sign of a possible change to more decentralization shown also by the way of acting by the FSC. From February 2020 and on, statutes and the jurisprudence of the FSC describe this competitive relationship between the entities, a little willingness to direct the crisis by the FG and the problems faced by other branches and SG political action mode to face de socio-economic, political, problems

Discussant

The last year has testified the challenges federal and non-federal states faced to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. From the group papers and in a comparative perspective, is it possible to identify similarities and differences in consistently implementing measures in response to the 2020 pandemic crisis?
Moreover, it is important to address the role of the constitutional and supreme courts in order to enhance or establish new features of centralization, decentralization or cooperation. Reflections about the papers also bring the discussion of the judicial interference in shaping the crisis management. The debate will focus on the main issues related to the fight against Covid-19 in the countries and systems presented, especially with regard to constitutional jurisdiction and constitutional interpretation related to the tension between national and subnational levels.