Über den Selbsterhalt der Republik. Eine gemäßigte Konzeption des Ausnahmezustandes in den Federalist Papers

Republik, Selbsterhalt, Sicherheit, Freiheit, Federalist Papers

Der Diskurs über den republikanischen Selbsterhalt in den Federalist Papers manifestiert sich anhand der Kompetenzzuschreibungen an die Exekutive. Ihr kommt die Aufgabe zu, Freiheit und Sicherheit auch in Krisensituationen nachhaltig herzustellen. Im Zuge einer ideengeschichtlichen Rekonstruktion und einem historischen Blick in die Verfassungswirklichkeit der Vereinigten Staaten ergründet der Beitrag, wie ein ausgewogenes Verhältnis von Freiheit und Sicherheit selbst in Ausnahmesituationen beschaffen sein kann. „Über den Selbsterhalt der Republik. Eine gemäßigte Konzeption des Ausnahmezustandes in den Federalist Papers“ weiterlesen

Bataclan: Die Narben einer verletzten Gesellschaft

Am 13.11.2017, dem zweiten Jahrestag der Anschläge auf das Stade de France, verschiedene Straßencafés im 10. und 11. Pariser Arrondissement sowie auf das Konzerthaus Bataclan, widmete sich die Sendung „Der Tag“ auf HR2 der Frage, was gute zwei Jahre Ausnahmezustand mit Frankreich und der französischen Gesellschaft gemacht haben. Im Interview ist unter anderem Matthias Lemke. Tenor seiner Einschätzung: Die Ergebnisse, die der Ausnahmezustand gebracht hat, sind fragwürdig. Dennoch werden viele seiner Maßnahmen durch die Verschärfung des Gesetzes zur Inneren Sicherheit nunmehr auf Dauer gestellt. Diese Normalisierung des Ausnahmezustandes, wenn zunächst auch ’nur‘ für die Dauer von drei Jahren, lasse sich nur schwer mit demokratischen Freiheitsrechten in Einklang bringen.

Den gesamten Podcast der Sendung gibt es hier, der Beitrag von Matthias Lemke beginnt bei Minute 6:30.

Abstract 10/15: Myriam Feinberg (University of Haifa) – Terrorism – The Permanent Exception. A Comparison of France and Israel


This paper aims to examine the consequences on democracy of ‘permanent emergencies’ linked to terrorism, through the examples and comparison of France and Israel’s states of emergency. France has already extended the state of emergency, originally declared after the November 2015 attacks, for over a year. Israel has been under a state of emergency since its creation in 1948. In both cases, the existence of a state of emergency allows the government to adopt a number of measures which wouldn’t be legal otherwise.

Terrorism is often treated as an exceptional crime which requires an exceptional response, including the adoption of states of emergency. The changing nature of the terrorist threat requires a flexible legal framework, but there are a number of issues with creating exceptional regimes to deal with it, especially if these exceptional regimes become permanent. Exceptionalism might justify extreme rules and a wider range of measures because usual rules are considered insufficient. Yet, the desire for a symbolic message and swift action against terrorism should not cheapen the strength of existing legal measures, which run the risk of piling up without being actually implemented. In fact, we witness an inflation of terrorism legislation often adopted hurriedly and without proper implementation tools or sufficient budget. In turn, these emergency measures tend to settle in the long run as people get used to a new normal, leading to a slippery slope of what is acceptable. For instance, the new terrorism law in Israel enshrines in regular legislation measures that were, on principle, only applicable under the state of emergency.

In addition, emergency fosters extremes and often targets specific groups of people that can then become ostracized. In turn, this can create a climate of fear and resentment towards those suspected of terrorism, as well as discriminatory measures. States will tend to focus on the external and exceptional threat, instead of addressing long-term and domestic issues, which contribute to terrorism, such as radicalisation and integration.

Finally, under states of emergencies, the executive often adopts the primary role in setting the norms, which puts aside the review role of the judiciary. Yet, both in France and Israel, courts have increasingly become involved in ensuring the protection of fundamental freedoms and the separation of powers under states of emergencies, two intrinsic components of democracies. The paper will examine these three particular issues in the two states, and draw conclusions on the impact of exceptional counterterrorism measures on democracy and the rule of law.

Abstract 9/15: Elisa Bertolini (Bocconi University Milan) – Democracy and the State of Exception: The Italian Experience


The Italian experience offers some interesting profiles when dealing with the state of exception and emergency situations. The 1948 Constitution – as her predecessor, the Albertine Statute of 1848 – does not provide for any emergency section. However, she provides for instruments to enact whenever a situation of necessity and urgency occurs (mainly the law decree, at Article 77, the powers assigned by the Parliament to the Government in case of war, at Article 78 and the substitute powers of the government, when necessary, of Municipalities, Provinces, Metropolitan Cities and Regions, at Article 120).

The fact that the Albertine Statute did not provided for an emergency section does not have to lead to the conclusion that an emergency situation (or, to use a formulation closer to the French doctrine, a stato d’assedio, état de siège) has ever been declared. The riots in Milan in 1898 or the earthquake in Messina in 1908 witnessed the enforcement of the wartime criminal military code, showing that the Italian legal system accepted the possibility of a legitimate use of extraordinary powers – even against the law – in order to preserve the State and of the legal and social order. The very same aim led King Victor Emmanuel III to appoint Mussolini as head of the government in the aftermath of the March on Rome in 1922.

In the democratic history, other situations happened that required the resort to some sort of emergency power, namely the passing of the legislative decree no. 625/1979, against the left-wing terrorism (the so-called Brigate Rosse, Red Brigades) – strengthening the police powers and compressing suspect rights – and the law no. 225/1992 establishing the Protezione Civile (Civil Defence). Under this second law, the government can pass civil defence orders to handle emergencies. Here the intent seemed more to provide for procedures and structures able to confront emergencies and to make the developments predictable rather than just to assign extraordinary powers.

Besides these ad hoc interventions, the Constitution provides for the instrument of the law decree that the government can enact in situations of extreme necessity and urgency (no further specification on the meaning of the two words is given). The abuse of this instrument made by the governments until the mid-1990s – due mainly to the weaknesses of the parliamentary executive innate in the extremely fragmented party system, the proportional representation and the subsequent coalition governments – shifted the balance from a parliamentary democracy to a so to speak governmental democracy. The long-awaited intervention of the Constitutional Court with the decision no. 360/1996 finally sanctioned this practice as unconstitutional, as in violation of both the prerogatives of Parliament – as the main law-making body – and the certainty of law.

Beside the abuse of the law decree, a more recent practice has been to resort to emergency instruments even in situations not properly of emergency – since not of unpredictable nature – but rather just difficult to handle, such as the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin or the 2015 Expo in Milan (just to mention a few). In such circumstances the connection to the extraordinary character of the situation is lacking; nevertheless, the government exercises all the same emergency powers.

Furthermore, the present-day economic crisis has provided for further remarks on the twisting of the Italian form of government (and of the form of State, according to some scholars) in situations of emergency, namely with respect to the role of the President of the Republic and of the Constitutional Court.

The active engagement of President Napolitano in the last crisis of government (starting from the Berlusconi’s one in 2011) and as a strong advisor of governments seem to have proved right Esposito’s theory according to which – since the president is given the same powers as the monarch in the constitutional monarchy – it is up to him to actively intervene in situations of emergency. The Constitutional Court too rises some concerns, with respect mainly to a certain number of decisions marking a straightforward intervention in the competence of Parliament and government, when balancing spending review and rights’ protection.

It is convenient to consider further this twisting in the balance of powers in the light of the separation of powers and on the qualification of the Italian present-day situation as within the constitutional legal order of within the emergency.

#StatEx2017 – Paperroom now open

As the conference on state of exception approaches, the first papers are available in the conference paperroom, beginning with Elisa Bertolinis text on the Italian experience of democracy and state of exception. You can access the paperroom here.

Please take note, that the papers are draft versions for conference use only. They may not be cited elsewhere. Comments are welcome.

Ende des Ausnahmezustandes in Frankreich?

Heute endet in Frankreich de jure der Ausnahmezustand. Nachdem die Maßnahmen seit dem 13.11.2015 in Kraft waren, beginnt damit ein neues Kapitel in der politischen Gestaltung der öffentlichen Sicherheit des Landes.

Was der Ausnahmezustand für Frankreich in den letzten gut zwei Jahren gebracht hat, ob die neuen Gesetze in der Lage sind, Sicherheit und Freiheit angemessen auszubalancieren und ob schließlich der Ausnahmezustand ein neues Paradigma demokratischen Regierens zu werden droht, dazu und zu vielen weiteren Fragen hat sich Matthias Lemke heute in zwei Interviews mit NDR Info / WDR 5 (Mittagsecho) und dem SRF (Echo der Zeit) geäußert. In der Gesamtschau zeichnet sich ein wesentlicher Aspekt sehr deutlich ab: Vom Ende des Ausnahmezustandes kann keine Rede sein. Treffender für die Charakterisierung der gegenwärtigen Entwicklung ist vielmehr der Begriff einer Normalisierung der Ausnahme.

Sobald die Podcasts zu beiden Sendungen vorliegen, werden sie im Artikel über die Senderlogos verlinkt.

Abstract 8/15: Anne-Marlen Engler (Humboldt University Berlin) – German Refugee Shelters


Carl Schmitt shaped the idea of a conjunction of sovereignty and the state of exception. Whereas Schmitt conceptualizes the state of exception as a state of exception, Giorgio Agamben broadens the concept and introduces a permanent state of exception as experienced in the camp – which he thinks of as the nomos of modernity. Within the camp, the sovereign rules over the inhabitants by way of reducing them to naked life. However, the state of exception is by no means a dictatorship; it is a lawless space [1].

My research project queries if German refugee shelters can be described as such lawless spaces in which the state of exception has become a quotidian reality. When arriving at the emergency shelters, the refugees have already undergone a first step of an integration by process [2]: they have been registered by the German authorities. Furthermore, in theory, they have access to human rights as well as German law. However, reports about detentions in mass shelters which last for months or abuses by the security personnel seem to confirm a situation which the American academic Ayten Gündoğdu has called “Rightlesness in an Age of Rights“. My research project wants to identify to what degree the refugees find themselves in “a bureaucratic situation similar to Kafkas castle” [3] and whether their access to law is hindered by arbitrary actions of the private shelter companies. My research work is based on the idea that the concept of the state of exception cannot convincingly explain the situation in the camps since it does not consider the coexistence of a legal regulation and a de facto lawlessness.

In the Colloquium “Ausnahmezustand. Eine Bestandsaufnahme”, I will present the first empirical results of my research project. In a pilot study, I have started to collect data with the help of structured interviews and field reports. The research field is an emergency shelter in a former airport in Berlin Neukölln which accommodates 1450 refugees at the moment. Orienting towards my research question, I interviewed four different status groups (social workers, refugees, lawyers and administration workers); special focus will be on the interviews with refugees as they are the ones affected by German housing politics.

[1] Agamben, Ausnahmezustand, S. 62.

[2] Luhmann, Legitmität durch Verfahren, S.94f.

[3] Gündoğdu, Rightlessness in an Age of Rights, S. 203.