From a legislating body to a body that holds into account. Remolding the Italian Parliament

With the Covid-19 pandemic, the relationship between the Italian legislative and executive bodies surfaced with all its frailties. The progressive weakening of the role of Parliament is certainly not a new phenomenon, but it was deeply aggravated over the past year and a half. In light of the predominant role that Government has secured in the legislative and regulatory activity, and considering the superior technical capabilities which the latter disposes of, we ought to ask: which direction should Parliament take as the institutional system evolves? With the aim of drawing a working balance between the two bodies, I will advance the view that Parliament will have to reaffirm its stature by reinforcing its controlling function. The latter supervisory role will respond to the need of applying greater pressure on Government by using a twofold path: the path of persuasion and the path of accountability.

 

The constitutional legitimacy of the action of the Parliament during the right of exception in Spain

The health emergency of the COVID-19 virus has fully impacted global society, causing transformative effects in the economic, social, political and environmental order. These changes imply a challenge to the rule of law, the division of powers and the protection of fundamental rights.

In this context, the rules of the right of exception in Spain and the possibility of limiting or suspending rights under its regime have been highly questioned. A controversy has been generated about the legal-constitutional viability of the state of alarm to restrict freedom of movement, the right of assembly and freedom of business. Specifically, the legal formula of the right of exception has been questioned. In addition, it has been discussed whether the restrictions on rights and the measures adopted during the right of exception by the Parliament were legitimate from a constitutional point of view. This work analyzes the constitutional legitimacy of the Parliament’s actions during this extraordinary period.

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.