Supervised by: Athanasios Peftinas, LLB (DUTh), LLM (DUTh), MSc (UOM, AU), MJur (Oxon).
Athanasios is a DPhil in Law Candidate at University of Oxford. He graduated 1st in cohort in his bachelor degree and holds three masters. He founded the students’ law review “Ypagogi” as an undergraduate student in 2015, consequently working as editor-in-chief, publisher and director. He participated and acted as a research supervisor in the Research Institute for Public International Law and International Relations “Krateros Ioannou” and as a Coordinator in the Research Institute for Forensic Sciences of Democritus University of Thrace. He is a qualified lawyer in Greece and practised law for two years. His research interests focus on Constitutional Law and Legal Theory.
The present paper discusses the hazards posed by emergencies to democracy. Our study particularly focuses on three types of emergencies: wars, political crises, and economic crises. We approach these emergencies in two dimensions: (1) their impact on human rights, and (2) their impact on governmental institutions and their separation of powers, with an emphasis of European and American case studies. Finally, the study is concluded with a comparison of the implications of the responses to the different democratic emergencies.
“Democracy” can be defined as a system applied to governments, in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly or indirectly through a system of representation, usually involving periodically-held free elections. Democratic states are obligated to preserve the human rights of their constituents and uphold the rule of law. The “rule of law” refers to a mechanism, process, practice, ideal, or norm that supports the equality of all citizens before the law, secures a non-arbitrary form of government, and prevents the arbitrary use of power. Human rights are inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status, and are protected by both civil and international law. The separation of powers is essential for preserving the rule of law, as it serves as a mechanism of checks and balances by dividing state power into different branches (legislative, executive, and judiciary).
However, during times of emergency, these fundamental rights can be suspended by emergency laws enacted by governments, due to their increased circumstantial powers. An emergency generally constitutes a threat to the peace and security of the nation, requiring immediate attention. This is strongly linked to human rights, as emergency situations often pose severe dangers to the fundamental rights of the people. This can occur both directly, such as in cases of armed conflict and other dangers to life, and indirectly through government responses to such crises, as the emergency may constitute an exception to the protection of certain rights.
Emergency clauses exist in constitutions as an attempt to control potential life-threatening situations. This involves the transfer of power to the executive to suspend certain elements of the constitution in the interest of national security, as well as having legislation that gives additional authority to the government. Such clauses are invoked with the objective of facilitating immediate and effective responses to crises.
These emergency laws, while providing exceptional powers appropriate for times of crisis, can act as a hazard to the institutions of democracy. This article will investigate three types of crises: war crises, political crises, and economic emergencies. Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) allows states to derogate from the obligations of the Convention if the life of the nation itself is imperilled. It is true that many of these laws are crucial for maintaining public safety during these crises, allowing rapid, flexible, and beneficial laws to be enacted without undergoing traditional, often time-consuming bureaucratic procedures. However, it would be quixotic to assume that these measures will not be exploited.
In this article, we explore the hazards posed to democracy by emergency laws as a response to the three aforementioned types of crises. Each type of crisis has demonstrated dangers to human rights through derogation from national constitutions, despite their differing natures. A range of emergency laws may be enacted during these emergencies, such as austerity measures, price controls, the suspension of habeas corpus, curfews, censorship, and protest restrictions. All of these have direct consequences, compromising democracy itself and thereby acting as a source of concern as to their exploitation by the state.
a) Human rights
A “war crisis” is defined as an armed conflict between two or more states, including invasions and proxy wars. During times of conflict, a state’s derogation from its constitution can diminish the populace’s fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, the right to habeas corpus or a fair trial, and in some cases, even the right to life. Emergency laws may also result in the confiscation of property, deportation, or detainment of foreign nationals.
One of the most prominent examples of an emergency law authorised by a state is the conscription of civilians into the armed forces. The earliest example of conscription dates back to Ancient Egypt in the Old Kingdom (around the 27th Century BCE), where able-bodied men were often drafted into the military forces of the Pharaoh during wartime for 1-3 years (1). While conscription is often beneficial to a state’s war efforts, it infringes on several human rights including freedom of thought and expression, as views of conscientious objectors are disregarded, and citizens’ freedoms are revoked, compelling them to serve in the military against their will. Conscription also counteracts the right to liberty and security (Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), putting participants in perilous and hazardous situations, encroaching upon their right to education, and violating their privacy through the mandatory sharing of sensitive and personal information during rigorous medical tests.
As of 2023, approximately 28 countries have laws entailing compulsory military service for civilians, including Israel, Iran, and South Korea (2). Constitutions are tools used by governments worldwide, usually on a contingency or plan B basis. In particular, the American Constitution allows the use of conscription in Article 1, Section 8 (with the derogation clause being if the life of the country is endangered) calling for “the militia to execute the Laws of the Union, repress Insurrections, and repel Invasions.”
Another concern interlinked with governments’ responses to times of war includes the confiscation of citizens’ property. A prominent example of this was seen during the evacuation in Dunkirk, where private boats, yachts, and pleasure boats were requisitioned by the British shipping ministry, without concurrence from a large proportion of the owners. The USA’s Defence Production Act also grants the federal government powers to secure the availability of much-needed resources, including the commissioning of property during times of war or other sizable public emergencies (3). While this is beneficial to the state during emergencies, it quashes several human rights, including the right to property (Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), as citizens’ private properties are requisitioned against their will (4).
Another right that may be infringed during war emergencies is the right to a fair trial, including the right to habeas corpus (Article 6 of the ECHR). During emergencies, civilians may be unable to access the judicial system, especially upon the declaration of martial law, which suspends all existing laws and civil authority, granting imperium to the military commander or president of a certain area. Another related infringement is arbitrary arrest (Article 9 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights), where prisoners are incarcerated immediately without consideration of a fair trial and judicial process. Significant examples include the detainment of persons of Japanese descent following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1945, where fear and speculation led to forceful isolation in internment camps (5).
In addition to unfair incarceration, this response to conflict may escalate to an infringement of one of the most fundamental human rights: the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 3 of the ECHR). For example, in Ireland v The United Kingdom, the Court held explicitly that “the use of the five techniques constituted a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the Convention.” (6) The legal suspension of such an essential human right allowed certain barbaric interrogation techniques to be utilised by the British military.
Finally, another human right at risk during wars is the freedom of movement. In times of war, governments may place restrictions on movement for the safety of the general public and to control civil unrest. For example, during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Ukraine declared a state of emergency in all regions in September 2022. This was done with the aim to control the rise of protests and limit the public’s exposure to increasingly dangerous attacks, derogating under Article 15 of the ECHR and restricting various human rights, such as the right to movement, private and family life, expression, and assembly (7). In the case of Ukraine, this has been necessary for controlling the rise of protests, as well as limiting the public’s exposure to increasingly dangerous attacks.
b) Institutions and Separation of Powers
In times of conflict, government responses often involve institutional changes that grant emergency powers. These changes allow for rapid and effective reactions to the dangers of war but also undermine the democratic state. The alterations may affect legislative powers, judicial review, parliamentary control, administrative powers, and the role of the military branch. While the extent of these changes varies across nations and their constitutions, some common features can be identified.
An example of institutional change can be seen in France, specifically Article 16 of the French Constitution, which grants exceptional powers to the President of the Republic when the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the Nation, the integrity of its territory, or the execution of its international commitments are threatened in a serious and immediate manner (8). This was once invoked following the failed 1961 coup in French Algeria, known as the “Algiers putsch,” aimed at preventing the French President (Charles de Gaulle) from abandoning French Algeria. He declared a state of emergency in Algeria to address the crisis and oppose the coup.
Similarly, in the United Kingdom, the Emergency Powers Act 1920 allows for the issuance of Regulations by Order in Council to secure the essentials of life to the community during a state of emergency.
Both examples demonstrate a clear deviation from democratic principles, indicating a shift towards autocratic control by the executive. Despite the objective of national security, these measures can be seen as undermining the rights of the people and the concept of democracy in both nations.
Another institutional change during times of crisis is the establishment of special and military courts. While this may have certain benefits, such as judges possessing specialised knowledge of military law and the protection of classified information, it often infringes upon human rights. Concerns arise about the impartiality of proceedings when the court is staffed by military officers, leading to institutional bias potentially influencing verdicts. Defendants may face challenges in obtaining legal representation, and the short duration of proceedings may prevent them from mounting an adequate defence. This can violate the right to a fair trial guaranteed by Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 10 of the ECHR.
Martial law is another institutional change implemented during periods of conflict. For example, under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution, the state falls directly under the President’s rule in cases of civil unrest and war in a specific state (9). Similarly, in the Philippines, Article 7(18) of the 1987 Constitution grants the President the authority to be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces and prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion (10). Derogation clauses are required for these laws to be enacted, such as a state of invasion by a foreign state or a state of civil anarchy.
a) Human rights
During political crises, governments’ responses often involve resorting to emergency measures in the interest of security. However, these responses can pose serious threats to democracy and human rights. Basic constitutional rights, such as freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech, may be threatened as governments attempt to control political riots and protests. While these emergency powers aim to protect the peace and safety of the nation, their enforcement in the short term can be considered a threat to democracy itself, as the government can claim control over its citizens’ basic human rights.
In such cases, governments may interfere and deny citizens their right to assemble (Article 11 of the ECHR) and their right to movement (Article 2, Protocol 4 of the ECHR). Governments may forcefully break apart riots in an attempt to prevent conflicts from escalating, even to the extent of risking civil war in extreme cases.
An example of a political crisis that significantly influenced basic human rights occurred in Hungary in 2011. The country transitioned from a functioning liberal democracy to a majoritarian democracy under the Orbán Regime. The right-wing government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban implemented constitutional changes that weakened the balance of power, concentrating it in the hands of the Prime Minister, leading to an illiberal regime. This abrupt change caused a significant political crisis that continues to impact the country to this day, resulting in protests and widespread dissatisfaction with the new regime’s policies.
In Hungary, the government directly attacked the rule of law and democratic principles. Since 2010, constitutional and legislative reforms have threatened the nation’s democratic principles, the rule of law, and human rights. The ruling party, Fidesz, abused its parliamentary supermajority to reshape the state’s institutional and legal framework in its favour, weakening independent institutions and eroding democratic checks and balances. The reforms limited fundamental human rights, such as the freedom of expression and information, freedom of religion or belief, and the rights of minorities.
Another example can be found in Peru, where a national state of emergency was declared to quell violent demonstrations following the arrest of President Pedro Castillo (11). During the state of emergency, rights to gathering and free movement were suspended, and the police were empowered to search people’s homes without permission or judicial order. These measures were intended to guarantee order and protect economic activities, but they raised concerns about the restriction of citizens’ rights during a political crisis. The measures came after a week of deadly unrest against Peru’s new President, Dina Boluarte (12). Protesters called for the replacement of all lawmakers and the reinstatement of Castillo, who was forced out after he attempted to dissolve Congress and rule by decree in an effort to avoid impeachment over corruption allegations (13).
Overall, government responses to political crises can lead to the infringement of human rights, erosion of democratic principles, and a shift towards autocratic control. While these responses may aim to restore order and security, it is essential to ensure that they do not come at the expense of fundamental human rights and the democratic values that underpin society.
b) Institutions and Separation of Powers
In the event of a political crisis, governments also undergo institutional and legislative changes, as well as shifts of power, threatening the rights and liberties of the people and the democracy of the state. A prominent example common in many forms of crises, including conflicts, is the state’s ability to grant additional powers to the executive in an autocratic shift of control. Some political crises can be so severe that even derogation clauses may be utilised as a solution. In these rare cases, governments supersede the Constitution to tackle the emergency. An example of this can be seen in Cyprus.
The island, inhabited by mainly Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot people, was under British reign and considered a colony. However, when the people had enough of being under British rule, they tried to rebel against it, leading to Turkish and Greek tensions escalating into riots and civil unrest. This situation was deemed a danger to the state, and thus considered a political emergency. Within a short time, the once well-functioning government of Cyprus was divided in two.
The tensions escalated into a civil war, and after a decade of long civil clashes, the island broke loose with the Greek military’s attempt at a coup, resulting in the Turkish part gaining control of 34% of the island, resulting in its four-part division based on ethnicity. The clashes and heavy violence led to 180,000 Greek-Cypriots being forcibly removed from their homes and pushed from the north to the south, while 50,000 Turkish-Cypriots were displaced to the north of the island. To this day, over 2,000 Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots are still missing due to the conflicts of 1963 to 1974. Since 1964, the Republic of Cyprus has been functioning under the doctrine of necessity, an application of emergency law that allows the government and parliament to exercise powers that may even contradict the Constitution due to the exigency that makes the application of the Constitution impossible.
Another example can be found in the Argentine Constitution, which was initially drafted according to the United States Constitution by scholars and the Argentine Supreme Court but later adopted the Continental European public law regime. European influence became particularly important in administrative law and extended to the constitutional law of Argentina. The situation was reinforced when the 1994 constitutional amendment included many European institutions in the Argentine Constitution. The risks involved in using European precedents in a US-type constitutional framework have been studied and demonstrated to be significant if not carefully followed. In this case, Argentina faced issues regarding the separation of powers due to the misuse of foreign legal constructions. Although the country remains presidential, the separation of powers has given way to the fusion of powers of the parliamentary system.
Currently, the original conception of separation of powers has shifted to a vertical relationship with the executive branch at the top. Checks and balances have disappeared, and in fact, the President exercises lawmaking power through executive orders issued on grounds of necessity and urgency. Additionally, none of the common controls of parliamentary systems exist, as presidents cannot be removed by votes of non-confidence. The failure of presidential democracy in Argentina serves as a significant example of how the separation of powers can be affected and lead to a political crisis.
Both examples demonstrate how political crises can lead to significant institutional changes and emergency measures that may temporarily address the situation but can have long-term negative consequences for democratic principles and human rights. It highlights the importance of finding a delicate balance between safeguarding national security during emergencies and preserving the fundamental rights and democratic values that uphold a nation.
a) Human rights
Outbreaks of financial crises and their ensuing consequences pose many threats to a country and its economy. Emergency responses can be implemented by the government to prevent the downfall of an economic institution. However, these responses can also serve as threats to the citizens of a nation. When governments resort to emergency measures during financial crises, they may infringe on the rule of law, turning a blind eye to their citizens’ basic rights and needs, including education, healthcare, safe infrastructure, and safety concerns.
A fairly recent example that emerged in 2008 was the Great Recession. At the time, human rights had gained extensive global recognition. However, when the crisis broke out, human rights were completely denied in the search for post-crisis analyses, policymakers, and remedies. The crisis resulted in the creation and exacerbation of job, food, and housing crises. Data from 51 countries showed that 20 million people lost their jobs in just 3 months, and within less than a year, hunger among people rose from 40 million to 1.02 billion.
The 2008 recession had a drastic effect on civilians in many countries, and a noteworthy example of this was seen in Greece, where public debt reached 109.4% in 2008, leading to a sovereign debt crisis. The enactment of austerity measures, intended to limit public debt, had a negative impact on the populace. The first austerity package was approved in February 2010, followed by the second in March and the third in June of the same year (14). These measures led to a reduction in expenditures on public health, with the Ministry of Health’s spending decreasing by 1.8 billion Euros within 2 years, representing a 23.7% decrease from 2009 to 2011.
To further exacerbate the crisis, the government’s outlay on hospitals was reduced by an additional 740 million Euros, a 12.5% reduction from 2009 to 2011. The payroll levy of public hospitals was also decreased by 16.5%, pushing many civilians into poverty as they experienced pay cuts. The deterioration of the health system had a butterfly effect, with cuts on the public health system positively correlating with increased mortality rates throughout the country. This was evident in the 13.2% increase in mortality rates from infectious diseases and a 25.5% increase in homicide mortality rates between 2007 and 2009. A notable 14% rise in constituents reporting poor states of health occurred between 2007 and 2009. Greece also experienced multiple viral outbreaks between 2010 and 2011, including the West Nile virus (resulting in 35 deaths) and an outbreak of malaria in southern Greece with 63 cases.
The frugality of public health measures contradicted the ECHR, with a severe example being the right to life under Article 2, evident through increased mortality rates caused by the implemented measures (15). It also contravened Article 25 of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees “the right to an adequate standard of living for [all], including food, clothing, housing, and medical care.” This significantly violated the Constitution of Greece, which includes the state’s responsibility to maintain public health (as stated in Article 23.1 of the Greek Constitution). The idea that the Greek state would cover the costs of “relief for the needy” was disregarded in 2011, as Greek patients were required to pay 25.7 million Euros for services that were free of charge before the crisis, affecting those the Greek Government was bound to protect.
As a result of the economic crisis, 110,000 Greek companies went bankrupt, leading to a 15.6% rise in the unemployment rate (16). The austerity measures also involved cuts in public spending on education and social services, public sector pay freezes, and a decrease in the national minimum wage by 22% in 2012 (reaching 32% for workers under 25) (17). These measures culminated in a spike in the percentage of people below the poverty line, earning less than 5.50 Euros per day, increasing from 1.6% in 2008 to 8.3% in 2013 (18). The spending cuts on education directly opposed Article 16 of the Greek Constitution, which states that “the development and promotion (of education, i.e., art, science) constitute the state’s obligation, and it should be provided for free.” Due to the poor quality of public education resulting from these measures, many students were forced to enter private “frontistiria” classes (19).
The spike in the percentage of people below the national poverty line as a result of these measures indicated that the austerity measures enacted under the tenure of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras contradicted Article 25 of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to adequate living. The cuts on social security also contradicted Article 24 of the Declaration of Human Rights which entails the right to social security, as well as Article 22.4 of the Greek Constitution, which declares, “The state shall provide for the social security of its workers as the law provides” (20, 21). In 2011, social security was cut by 1.09 billion Euros, thus violating the Constitution itself.
Another example of the violation of human rights during economic crises involves Viktor Orban’s enabling act in Hungary, granting him exceptional powers during an emergency. While this measure may have been implemented for emergency purposes, it carries the risk of being misused. One example is the targeting and repression of media outlets, including the criminalisation of ‘”fake news.” The revoking of the frequency of the United for Hungary Party supporting Klubradio media outlet by the Supreme Court in June 2020 led to its subsequent shutdown in February 2021 (22).
In conclusion, financial crises and their emergency responses can have severe consequences on the rights and well-being of citizens, and it is essential for governments to balance crisis management with respect to fundamental rights and the welfare of their people.
b) Institutions and Separation of Powers
During a severe economic crisis, separation of powers can weaken, with certain branches of the state acquiring more power than others. In times of crisis, the government might adopt temporary measures of legislative content without the parliament’s participation or approval, thereby undermining the power of the legislative branch of the government.
This can be observed in the case of President Clinton’s actions on January 12, 1995, when he requested legislation providing $40 billion in loan guarantees to prevent Mexico from defaulting on bonds worth billions of Dollars (23). Less than 3 weeks later, the President preempted the ongoing congressional debate on the guarantees and, without any formal congressional action, unilaterally negotiated a combination of additional loans from international institutions (IMF and BIS) and promised Mexico $20 billion from the ESF, an obscure revolving fund in the Treasury normally used to stabilise the Dollar on world currency markets. It is far from clear that the President had the legal authority to take this action.
Another example can be seen in Hungary during the coronavirus pandemic, which stimulated both economic and health crises. The economic crisis resulted in the GDP dropping by 4.5% from 2019 to 2020 (24). In this scenario, the Prime Minister (Viktor Orban) was granted a great level of power upon declaring a state of emergency through the Act of Protecting Against Coronavirus (törvény a koronavírus elleni védekezésről), addressing both the health and economic aspects of the pandemic.
To address the economic crisis, this programme involved giving financial support to local businesses to fund economic recovery, along with tax cuts that slightly boosted economic growth (increasing GDP growth in 2021 to 7.2% from a dire -4.5% the year before). The government used the powers granted by the emergency to provide wage subsidies to workers, financial support for the vulnerable, and funding of 109.6 million Euros to help local district governments pay off energy bills (25). Employment support schemes were also set up, and unemployment benefits were increased, while loan repayments for individuals and businesses who borrowed money before March 18 of that year were postponed (26). The government also issued legislation during the crisis that capped APR (the cost of borrowing money, taking into account interest rates expressed as a percentage) at 5%, thereby alleviating the financial burden faced by the constituents of the country. These laws were passed after the declaration of emergency, with increased power being given to the executive branch.
The Enabling Act, approved by the National Assembly of Hungary on March 30, 2020, granted legislative powers to the executive. However, this caused concern among much of the Hungarian populace and foreign experts due to its terms. Firstly, it included the indefinite extension of such emergency powers, allowing the government to extend them for as long as they saw fit. It also gave them the power to suspend parliamentary sessions, thereby hindering its oversight and supervision role when new laws were established, enabling the government to pass laws without opposition during this emergency, for an indefinite period.
Since March 2020, the government has issued more than 250 decrees, many unrelated to the pandemic itself, thanks to the special powers granted due to the emergency. In May, the government misused these powers to privatise the education sector, particularly university education, through the establishment of “public trust funds” that funded the entities managing many universities, with members of the governing bodies loyal to the Fidesz Party (27).
Concluding remarks: Comparing the different emergencies
a) Between War and Political Crises
The differences in the hazards posed to human rights by war and political crises are many and originate from the distinct nature of events involved in each emergency. War crises involve armed confrontations between states, with emphasis on achieving certain military objectives, such as offensives into enemy soil and capturing land and fundamental natural resources. On the other hand, the main focus in a political crisis is to resolve specific political matters, with prominent examples being civil unrest or coup d’états.
Periods of conflict may span years, leading to the declaration of martial law, curfews, increased surveillance on civilians, and restrictions on movement. These differ from political crises, which are often shorter, with violations of human rights including detainments without due process, imposed curfews, repression of political protests, torture, and censorship of certain media outlets, among others. Emergency measures taken in both crises, which derogate from fundamental articles present in the constitution of a state, can pose a grave danger to democracy if exploited, as they often suppress the human rights of the populace.
On an institutional level, both war and political crises may exhibit similarities, as the government may assume exceptional powers. However, they differ in intensity and the role that the separation of powers plays. Specifically, during war crises, the executive branch obtains the majority of the power due to the necessity of quick, decisive action to address perilous circumstances. The executive branch may also invoke emergency laws and rule by decree if such insecure circumstances arise. In war crises, there is generally a greater level of unity and cohesion, as the government assumes the primary role, sidelining the other branches of power. The same may not be true for political crises, where the different branches may retain their roles or even contribute to the crisis by opposing each other. Thus, the two crises have important differences.
b) Between War and Economic Crises
War crises can have very different impacts on human rights compared to economic emergencies. While war and conflict generally involve derogation from laws establishing what the government may legally take, economic crises focus on the government’s responsibility to provide. The suspension of basic constitutional rights that may be eroded during times of conflict is generally based on protecting the population from unjust or unsafe treatment. In contrast, during an economic emergency, the rights that face an imminent threat are related to the state’s role in providing necessary services.
For example, during cases of armed conflict, a state may request to derogate from Article 8 of the ECHR (right to privacy) to conduct search parties in order to identify dangerous substances that may threaten the safety of the nation. However, the response to an economic recession would differ significantly. States may request to derogate from rights involved in ensuring the provision of education or the promotion of development (as in the case of Greece and Article 16 of its Constitution) to focus financial resources on combating crises.
Despite this variation, reactions to both conflicts remain in the same interest: immediate and effective emergency relief. Furthermore, both pose a danger to the human rights they seek to derogate from. Articles including basic necessities such as the prohibition of torture (Article 3 of the ECHR), as well as rights aimed at ensuring the development and well-being of the people, remain essential to true democracy. As such, both remain under direct threat from government responses to both war and economic crises.
On an institutional level, the transfer of powers to the executive (as seen in the French Constitution) is one of the most significant institutional changes during wars. Economic crises may exhibit similar traits (as seen in Hungary), but they usually involve the participation of the legislature to a far greater extent.
c) Between Political Crises and Economic Crises
Human rights can be affected by both political and economic crises, although their impacts are different. Political crises may lead to a direct and severe violation of individual and political rights, particularly the right to assembly, freedom of expression, and the right to protest. Meanwhile, an economic crisis can indirectly take away people’s rights by making the exercise of individual or political rights harder due to a lack of economic resources. It may also infringe on social rights, such as the right to receive healthcare, education, and safety. Examples of both were illustrated by political crises in Cyprus, Turkey, and Hungary, and by economic crises in the 2008 recession in Greece and Zimbabwe.
On an institutional level, during political crises, the separation of powers can malfunction and lead to certain legislative branches gaining more control than the rest. Economic crises have a similar impact, allowing certain branches to take control over the others. This can be shown in the previous example of a political emergency in Argentina and economic crises in both Mexico and Hungary. An important difference is that economic crises lead to more long-standing changes, as economic crises are usually difficult to recover from, unlike political crises, which might be severe but short-term.
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