Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies (Print ISSN: 1078-4950; Online ISSN: 1532-5822)

Short commentary: 2021 Vol: 27 Issue: 4S

Centralizing Power and Closing Democratic Space

Alzubaidy Dheyea, University of Sharjah

Citation Information: Dheyea, A. (2021). Centralizing power and closing democratic space. Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies, 27(S4), 1-2

As several observers have begun to document, the pandemic is resulting in a speedy enlargement of government power round the world, with doubtless dramatic implications for democratic area. Over the past month, most countries have restricted public gatherings and citizens’ freedom of movement, and quite fifty countries have declared states of emergency. The severe public health emergency after all needs extraordinary measures. However because the International Center for Not-for-Profit law has highlighted, such responses ought to meet basic tests essentially, transparency, and quotient (Landman et al., 2012).

It’s additionally crucial that they be time-bound and subject to periodic review. There square measure already signs that some governments square measure victimization the crisis to grant themselves a lot of expansive powers than secure by the health crisis, with meagre oversight mechanisms, and victimization their dilated authority to trammel on opposition and tighten their grip on power. Thus, the pandemic could find yourself hardening repression in already closed political systems, fast democratic reverting in blemished democracies, and any bolstering government power in democratic countries. Four reticulated areas of concern stand go into this rush toward new emergency powers and restrictions Poe and Tate (1994).

Centralization of Power

Illiberal leaders square measure taking advantage of the crisis to any weaken checks and balances and erode mechanisms of answerability, thereby entrenching their positions of power Przeworski (1985). In Hungary, for instance, a replacement law permits Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree indefinitely, with none parliamentary oversight Landman (2005). Within the Philippines, the parliament passed legislation granting President Rodrigo Duterte nearly limitless emergency powers. Similarly, in Cambodia, a replacement draft law on national emergency would offer the govt. unlimited access to martial power whereas drastically curtailing citizens’ political rights.

Abridgment of Basic Rights

Some authorities square measure already victimization the crisis and their emergency powers to minify citizens’ basic rights Mitchell and McCormick (1988). One significantly clear trend is heightened management over free expression and therefore the media, underneath the pretence of fighting “misinformation” concerning the virus. The Chinese government has expurgated info concerning its response and detained journalists World Health Organization reported on the natural event. In Kingdom of Thailand, voters and journalists World Health Organization criticize the government’s handling of the crisis face lawsuits and government intimidation. The Egyptian government recently forced a Guardian communicator to go away the country once she had questioned Egypt’s official count of coronavirus cases. In Jordan, the prime minister currently has the authority to suspend freedom of expression.

Expanded State

Police work the crisis is additionally fast governments’ use of latest police work technologies. In Israel and South Korea, for instance, government’s square measure victimization smartphone location knowledge to trace down voters World Health Organization could is exposed to the virus. In metropolis, new arrivals should wear electronic location-tracking wristbands; Singapore will intensive contact tracing and publishes careful info concerning every well-known case. whereas increased police work isn't as such antidemocratic, the risks for political abuse of those new measures square measure vital, significantly if they're approved and enforced while not transparency or oversight. In India, for instance, the govt. has pressured native media to keep up positive coverage as it implements disturbing ways like “requiring segregated people to sporadically transfer selfies” and victimization location following to make sure that the icon is taken at the individual’s home. The pandemic has given governments in China, Russia, and different authoritarian states larger justification to deploy even a lot of intrusive systems, together with widespread use of identity verification and social media observance.


  1. Landman, T. (2005). Review article: The political science of human rights. British Journal of Political Science, 35(3), 549-572.
  2. Landman, T., Kernohan, D., & Gohdes, A. (2012). Relativizing human rights. Journal of Human Rights, 1(4), 460-485.
  3. Mitchell, N.J., & McCormick, J.M. (1988). Economic and political explanations of human rights violations. World Politics, 40(3), 476-498.
  4. Poe, S.C., & Tate, C.N. (1994). Repression of human rights to personal integrity in the 1980s: A global analysis. American Political Science Review, 88(4), 853-872
  5. Przeworski, A. (1985). Capitalism and social democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
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