IMPLEMENTATION PERIOD: 01/01/2022–31/12/2022
A) The coronavirus crisis leads to severe restrictions on human rights almost globally. These measures entail the limitation of the right to vote in elections and other forms of democratic participation also.
AA) The electoral campaign has been strictly limited: political assemblies have been banned or allowed only with a limited number of participants; the dissemination of political ideas has been possible almost exclusively in the virtual sphere. Consequently, the relevant information from the views of the different candidates was considerably less accessible than during an ordinary campaign. Therefore, new political actors or candidates without an established circle of supporters have remarkably less chance to be successful or to enter into the political market.
AB) The public health risk caused by personal meetings of people has imposed a significant burden on the traditional way of voting based on personal presence; authorities looked for such adaptative measures, reducing the number of diseases during the elections.
AC) Moreover, the Covid-infected or suspected persons faced with additional difficulties to take part in the elections due to the mandatory quarantine rules: these persons have been undoubtfully entitled to exercise their right to vote as other voters do, however, if they would vote according to the pre-Covid electoral rules, will jeopardize the life and the health of other citizens.
AD) Apart from this, the pandemic increased political apathy by keeping numerous people from voting, especially citizens without solid political engagement or the most endangered social groups (older generations, persons with chronic illnesses).
AE) Furthermore, the limitations on the movement of persons entailed further barriers to the electoral participation of several persons, including citizens living abroad.
B) In the light of these concerns, states have been forced to choose between one of the following alternatives to handle these issues:
BA) Legislative or municipal elections should be held during pandemic under the same terms, as earlier with the maintenance of the original schedule;
BB) The existing voting procedure should be adapted with special technical rules to public health concerns to prevent unavoidable personal contacts and unnecessary mass in and around polling stations;
BC) The use of Electronic- postal- and urn voting should be extended to ensure the safe participation of as many persons as possible;
BD) Elections should be postponed until the end of this threat. The extraordinary period should be bridged with temporal constitutional and political solutions as part of the emergency regime.
Our project will raise such issues to provide for the Visegrád countries potential answers, to discuss the best practices from all over the world, and assess their applicability in the region’s legal systems. Will add particular emphasis for those aspects of the crisis, which will probably exercise long-term tangible impact on the electoral systems of the region: according to our vision, future elections should be more flexible with the combination of different voting methods; should give more weight to the facilities of modern technologies under robust safeguards, and should strengthen the resilience of electoral regimes under crises.
These challenges require fast but complex scientific reflections globally, and also in the Visegrád region to draw the conclusions correctly. This is the main reason why we have envisaged a one-year-long intensive research collaboration to share knowledge.