First glimpse on cover of ZPol-Issue 4/2018 „New Normality?“

Here it is – the cover of the upcoming issue 4/2018 of the German Journal of Political Science. Coming out a year after our #StatEx2017-conference in Paris, it offers the written and revised versions of a big part of the contributions presented at the German Historical Institute, as well as some new articles. We are very excited and looking forward to comments and further discussions.

ZPol 4/2018-Cover „New Normality? State of Exception as Contemporary Government Technique“.

The issue is currently in production. As soon as the digital and printed versions are available, we will inform you here. For more information, click on the cover. You will be re-directed to the ZPol-Homepage.

New Normality? Perspectives on Contemporary Research on State of Exception

With the following text, we finally publish the concluding chapter of the forthcoming issue Matthias Lemke  / Ece Göztepe / Olivier Cahn (Ed.), New Normality? State of Emergency as Contemporary Government Technique. The editors are happy to present this last piece of the outcome of the #StatEx-2017-Conference which was held in Paris at the German Historical Institute one year ago. The concluding chapter will be published – together with the other articles already presented on this blog – online first as the 4/2018-issue of the German Journal of Political Science. We wish to thank all the contributing authors as well as the Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation (Cologne), the Foundation for Science and Democracy (Kiel), the Minerva Center for the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions (Haifa) and the Goethe Institute in Paris for their precious support.

1. Some general considerations

As the contributions to this volume show, state of exception (SoE) is and has been a crucial phenomenon in governing modern and accordingly complex democratic societies. Being an important tool for crisis response, the practice of SoE occurs in situations when democratic societies are extremely vulnerable. Such vulnerability may exist due to internal or external threats, real or perceived threats, man-made or non-man-made threats. They can also crop up when societies are, generally speaking, exposed to significant change.

Therefore, SoE, as an instrument of crisis governance, has a fundamental impact on societies when they are in a fragile condition. Literally taken as a governance technique, SoE does not deal with fundamental crisis. By introducing far-reaching changes to the given political, institutional, and legal order, it can be seen as a veritable game-changer with regard to democratic foundations. What is striking is its ambivalence: SoE as a tool—in a very technical sense of the term—can resolve critical crisis situations that would otherwise have overstrained the existing political order. It can also serve as a door-opener by introducing fundamental changes to an authoritarian political system. It is in between these two extremes where the political capacity of SoE unfolds.

Taken together, these two elements—the omnipresence of SoE in contemporary democracies and its ambivalence regarding the purposes in which it might be used—require close and continued monitoring of techniques that rely on the enlargement of the executive’s competences. This leads to the following questions: How is it possible to organize such monitoring? What developments should it consider and what issues are the most important?

2. Monitoring SoE: Six theses

Monitoring the contemporary use of SoE as a government technique is a complex task. Owing to a variety of existing cases, it seems inappropriate to come up with a general research strategy that claims to cover all of them. Instead, we would like to propose six theses that, as we hope, may inspire future work on SoE.

The concept of SoE is not limited to the era of the modern state. Existing research on SoE generally admits that the Roman dictatorship was some sort of a predecessor of enlarged executive competences. Transferred to modern times by Machiavelli, the idea of suspending a given constitutional framework for enhancing its crisis intervention capacities can be traced back to the idea of the modern state. What is largely missing in this reconstruction is the whole period between the end of the classical era of the Roman Republic and the Italian Renaissance. Attempts to identify functional equivalents to the SoE in the Middle Ages—as Petra Schulte has shown regarding the term necessitas—may be fruitful to understand the rationale behind SoE beyond a developed, complex, and therefore, modern statehood.

SoE must not be reduced to legal issues. Of course, SoE is embedded in the constitutional or legal order of the state. Therefore, its legal layout is indispensable when it comes to analysing the specific form of a SoE. Anyway, the analysis should not stop there. The legal dimension of SoE often limits itself to the form of crisis intervention. But it often fails to fully grasp the performative dimension—the use that a specific government at a specific point in time makes of the given legal provisions.

Analysing language patterns of SoE is crucial. When it comes to opening the performative dimension of SoE, analysing language patterns is of utmost importance. Language patterns here means the way stakeholders argue or try to persuade the political public before, during, or after an emergency. Stakeholders are political decision-makers, but their critics are inside or outside the institutions of the political system. The analysis of language patterns should aim at the arguments or justifications issued in favour or against the application of a SoE as well as at the changes and volatility of these statements. Qualitative approaches will significantly enhance the understanding of the political dimension of SoE.

Considering the temporal dimensions of SoE is important. As already implicitly stated above, the analysis of SoE must not be limited to the timeframe covering nothing but the application of SoE. Not always, but very often, the application of a SoE knows a specific historical, political, environmental, or social record. It is, therefore, crucial to consider what one may call the the pre-existing conditions of a SoE. These might help to understand why a SoE in a specific situation was applied, although the same conditions at another point in time did not lead to the suspension of fundamental rights. Also, if the SoE can transform a democratic political system into an authoritarian one, the consecutive steps towards this degradation of a political culture require close monitoring. Taken together, any analysis of SoE must consider its pre-existing conditions and outcome.

Comparison matters. One may wonder why some political systems face a severe crisis proclaim a SoE and then, after the crisis is over, return to the normal, while others do not and become authoritarian. Existing studies very often limit themselves to one single case instead of comparing various applications of SoE over time or in different countries. Future studies should commit themselves to a comparative approach. This may help to identify specific constellations, risks, institutional, or political patterns that more or less lead towards a fundamental transformation of a democratic political system during the application of a SoE.

Normalization matters. Current cases of the application of a SoE show that respecting a strict timeframe of enhanced executive capacities and suspended fundamental rights is becoming less and less common. Even more, governments for months and years refrain from ending SoE regimes. When a SoE is terminated, this goes along with the transfer of important emergency provisions into the normal legal framework. One of the most difficult and most exiting questions is: Why is this? Why does it seem to become more and more difficult for governments to just end the emergency regime? Why do they consider it necessary to have access to the enhanced capacities of crisis intervention when a SoE is not applied? How do they justify that need? And finally, if the exception becomes the new normality, what is then normality?

These six theses do not need to be—and certainly cannot—be integrated into one single study. The methodological and disciplinary perspectives they require are too diverse. But they may serve as an orientation towards a contemporary study of SoE as a government technique in a broad sense—it means that an interdisciplinary project certainly needs more and ongoing attention.

3. Has the SoE become a ‘new normality’?

This volume started with the general assumption that SoE is on everyone’s lips. The various articles we have brought together have shown that—from an interdisciplinary, scientific point of view—this diagnosis is surely true. One can clearly see an increasing number of studies on SoE within the last years. They legal studies and constitutional right via philosophy to political sciences and sociology, from history to the history of ideas. Seen from an epistemological point of view, they reach from empirical via comparative up to critical normative perspectives. For all these fields with their various approaches, analysing SoE has already become an important preoccupation.

But if we look beyond this research-centred impression beyond the academic world, what about the relevance of SoE for the political practice of contemporary democracies? Is SoE really that important? Does it endanger the rule of law or even fundamentals of democracy itself? Giving an answer to these question is not so easy.

On the one hand, SoE was, is, and will be an indispensable institutional mechanism for crisis intervention. As of now, far more than 95 per cent of established democracies worldwide know constitutional provisions or legal rules for this purpose. Seeing it pragmatically, one must admit that as long as unforeseen events with the potential to expose democratic political systems to an existential threat will occur, the executive will have no reason to give up this tool. This is because the core function of the modern state is to protect its citizens. It seems almost tautological that it can only fulfil this function if it stays intact. There, the state and the acting government must dispose of appropriate tools to protect itself and its citizens even in situations that go far beyond the legal limits of the existing constitutional or legal order and the limits established by them: necessitas non habet legem.

On the other hand, given the current practice of democratic crisis intervention before, during, and after the application of emergency regimes, one aspect needs some more consideration. This aspect points to the trigger of the SoE itself: What is a crisis? Or, to be more precise: How do we frame a crisis situation and how do we legitimize the ultimate need for suspending fundamental legal norms and/or civil rights? To this end, it seems that the role of the political public is crucial when it comes to prevention of the anti-democratic force of an emergency regime. If, as it seems to be the case for contemporary democracies,

–       the political public adopts a more and more hostile pattern;

–       the segregation of the political sphere into a plurality of filter bubbles continues;

–       the willingness to accept so-called alternative facts as a legitimate description of political, social, and economic reality;

–       the acceptance of a friend–enemy distinction or other simplification as sufficient explanation for complex problems goes on, 

then there is a strongly increased likelihood for the success of governments intending to use SoE provisions for their own interests such as the long-term enhancement of their own influence at the expense of fundamental rights and separation of powers. A continued failure of the political public will enhance the chances for those governments to successfully create an image of constant threat, which makes it possible to use extensive use of emergency provisions plausible and more and more uncontested.

Looking back to the first two decades of the 21stcentury, the use of SoE in well- established democracies has clearly become a more and more frequent practice. This was often—for example, after the 9/11 attacks in the US or after the terrorist attacks on 11/13 in Paris—for good or at least for understandable reasons. What we can also observe is that SoE is not only applied after terror attacks or turmoil, but also in other cases like environmental or climate change issues or labour disputes. As the contexts that trigger the applications of SoE vary more and more, its timeframe grows. In recent years, SoE shows a clear tendency to remain in effect for even longer periods and to be maintained (at least in some of its provisions) even after the crisis is over.Given these patterns, SoE seems to be moving away from being a tool provided in emergency situations which is reserved for exceptional use only. Instead, the restraints to use it get weaker, which makes the SoE—in the medium or perhaps in the long run—a normal instrument for governing democracies. This is the point when we should once again emphasize a question that we have already come up with: If the exception is the new normality, what is then normality?

What does state of exception mean? – A definitional and analytical approach

Introduction to: New Normality?

The introductory article first proposes a definition of the state of exception. A purely legal perspective proves to be insufficient. On the contrary, it is necessary, especially in analytical terms, to consider discursive and practical elements in order to adequately grasp the state of exception. In addition, it introduces the contributionsof this volume.

Full text is available via Springerlink an can be downloaded here.

Einleitung zu: New Normality?

Der einleitende Beitrag schlägt zunächst eine Begriffsbestimmung des Ausnahmezustandes vor. Eine rein rechtswissenschaftliche Perspektive erweist sich dabei als nicht ausreichend. Vielmehr bedarf es, gerade auch in analytischer Hinsicht, einer Ergänzung um diskursive wie praktische Elemente, um den Ausnahmezustand angemessen erfassen zu können. Zudem werden die einzelnen Beiträge des Bandes vorgestellt.

Der vollständige Text ist auf Springerlink verfügbar und kann hier eingesehen werden.

State of Exception – New Normality?

This is a short preview of the contents of the forthcoming issue 3/2018 of the German Journal of Political Science (Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, ZPol), dealing with various issues of state of emergency politics.  In the weeks to come, you can find abstracts for all articles (DE/EN) listed below on this blog. Titles or sequence of appearance might be subject to change.

Matthias Lemke  / Ece Göztepe / Olivier Cahn (Ed.), New Normality? State of Emergency as Contemporary Government Technique.


Matthias Lemke (Lübeck)
What does State of Exception Mean? A Definitional and Analytical Approach


Ewa Atanassow (Berlin) / Ira Katznelson (New York)
State of Exception in the Anglo-American Liberal Tradition

Marie Goupy (Paris)
The State of Exception Theory of Carl Schmitt and the Ambivalent Criticism of Liberalism

Rafael Valim (São Paolo)
State of Exception: The Legal Form of Neoliberalism

Tobias Schottdorf (Lüneburg)
Law, Democracy and the State of Emergency. A Theory Centered Analysis of the Democratic Legal State in Times of Exception


Sabine Mischner (Freiburg)
The Temporalities of Exception. The Long Shadow of the American Civil War

Thomas Blanck (Cologne)
A Revolutionary State of Exception: Munich, 1918/1919

Hanno Balz (Baltimore)
Head of State of Exception. Federal German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and the Supralegal Crisis Management during the 1970s


Anne-Marlen Engler (Berlin)
Shifting the Question to Law Itself: Agamben’s Permanent State of Exception and German Refugee Camps in Empirical Research

Myriam Feinberg (Haifa)
States of Emergency in France and Israel – Terrorism, ‘Permanent Emergencies’ and Democracy

Elisa Bertolini (Milan)
Democracy and the State of Exception. The Italian Experience

Ece Göztepe (Ankara)
The Permanency of the State of Emergency in Turkey. The Rise of a Constituent Power or Only a New Quality of the State?

Annette Förster (Aachen)
The Expansion of Executive Force in the War on Terror and its Impact on Domestic and International Norms

Dante Gatmaytan (Quezon)
Duterte, Judicial Deference, and Democratic Decay in the Philippines


Jan Christoph Suntrup (Bonn)
The Symbolic Politics of the State of Exception: Images and Performances

Julian Müller (Leipzig)
European Human Rights Protection in Times of Terrorism – the State of Emergency and the Emergency Clause of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

Jonas Heller (Frankfurt/M)
Democracy and State of Eception as Dialectic between Demos and Population


Ece Göztepe (Ankara) / Olivier Cahn (Paris) / Matthias Lemke (Lübeck)
New Normality? Perspectives on Contemporary Research on State of Exception

For further information, please contact Matthias Lemke on behalf of the editors.

Basel 2018, Presentation #2

Ausnahmezustand als Regierungstechnik

Matthias Lemke, Hochschule des Bundes für öffentliche Verwaltung, Fachbereich Bundespolizei, Lübeck

Der Ausnahmezustand scheint zum Dauerzustand zu werden: In Frankreich, der Türkei, in Spanien, den USA, in Großbritannien oder auf den Marshall-Inseln – überall dort und auch in weiteren Ländern haben Regierungen in jüngerer Vergangenheit wegen Terrorismus, vermeintlicher Putschversuche, Streik, Aufständen, Unruhen oder Klimaveränderungen den Ausnahmezustand verhängt. Als Instrument akuter Krisenintervention ist der Ausnahmezustand kein Phänomen der Moderne, vielmehr durchzieht er die Geschichte des Regierens von der Römischen Republik bis in die Gegenwart. Seine Notwendigkeit ist in der politik- wie rechtstheoretischen Analyse so gut wie nicht umstritten. Weitgehend unerforscht ist jedoch bis heute, wie dieses in aller Welt als notwendig erachtete Instrument tatsächlich angewendet wird. Ziel des Vortrages ist es daher, jenseits der Theoretisierung des Ausnahmezustandes zu aufzuzeigen, wie die Ausweitung von Exekutivkompetenzen politisch-praktisch funktioniert. In repräsentativen Demokratien geht der Umsetzung kollektiv bindender Entscheidungen deren Plausibilisierung in der politischen Öffentlichkeit voraus. Für die drei demokratischen Regimetypen – Präsidentialismus, Semipräsidentialismus, Parlamentarismus – wird in Fallstudien zu den USA, Frankreich und Deutschland systematisch ermittelt, welche sprachlichen Strategien die Ausrufung von Ausnahmezuständen in der politischen Öffentlichkeit vorbereiten, begleiten und überdauern. Die systematische Analyse politischer Öffentlichkeit, die in Parlamentsdebatten (Plenarprotokolle) ebenso wie in der Medienberichterstattung (Tageszeitungen o.ä.) retrospektiv erschlossen werden kann, vermag manifeste wie latente Sprachmuster öffentlicher Plausibilisierung dezidiert nachzuzeichnen

Vortrag „719 Tage im Ausnahmezustand – Eine Bilanz“ in Halle (Saale)

Im Rahmen des kommenden Kongresses des Bundesarbeitskreises Kritischer Juragruppen (BAKJ), der vom 6. bis 8. Juli 2018 in Halle (Saale) stattfinden wird, stellt Matthias Lemke erste Überlegungen zu einer Bilanz des Ausnahmezustandes in Frankreich vor.

Insgesamt 719 Tage – vom 13.11.2015 bis zum 01.11.2017 – war Frankreich im Ausnahmezustand. Die lange Kette von Anschlägen, angefangen beim Überfall auf die Redaktion von Charlie Hebdo, über die Geiselnahme im Bataclan bis hin zur Amokfahrt in Nizza, hat das Land und seine politische wie rechtliche Kultur nachhaltig verändert. Unter Präsident Macron ist der Ausnahmezustand offiziell beendet worden, allerdings um den Preis der Überführung zahlreicher ausnahmezustandlicher Maßnahmen in den Code de la Sécurité intérieure. Wie analysiert man einen solchen Prozess, wie lässt sich eine Normalisierung des Ausnahmezustands politik- und rechtswissenschaftlich erfassen? Diesem Problem will der Vortrag nachgehen und damit einer wesentlichen demokratischen Herausforderung der Gegenwart: der zunehmenden Exekutivlastigkeit des Regierens.

Das Programm zur Veranstaltung kann hier eingesehen werden.

Gegenwartsdiagnosen zum Regieren im Ausnahmezustand – Programm online

Das  Programm zum Panel „Gegenwartsdiagnosen zum Regieren im Ausnahmezustand“ von Fabien Jobard (Centre Marc Bloch / CNRS) und Matthias Lemke (HS Bund – Bundespolizei) ist ab sofort online verfügbar. Neben den geplanten Vortragstiteln findet sich dort auch die dazugehörigen Abstracts. Ferner stehen auf den Seiten allgemeine Informationen zur Konferenz in Basel (Zeit, Ort, Anmeldemodalitäten etc.) zur Verfügung.

Panel „Gegenwartsdiagnosen zum Regieren im Ausnahmezustand“, Basel 2018

Vom 13. bis 15. September 2018 findet in Basel der Vierte Kongress der deutschsprachigen Rechtssoziologievereinigungen statt. Unter dem Oberthema „Abschaffung des Rechts?“ werden, wie auch schon auf den Vorgängerveranstaltungen in Luzern, Wien und Berlin, Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler aus der Rechts- und Politikwissenschaft, der Soziologie und weiteren benachbarten Disziplinen miteinander diskutieren.

„Gegenwartsdiagnosen zum Regieren im Ausnahmezustand“, so lautet der Titel des Panels, das Fabien Jobard (Berlin), Ece Göztepe (Ankara), Marie Goupy (Paris) und Matthias Lemke (Lübeck) zum Kongress organisieren. Die Abstracts zu den jeweiligen Vorträgen werden in den kommenden Wochen hier auf dem Blog vorgestellt.


Notwehr als Legitimationsquelle staatlichen Handelns?

In den kommenden Tagen Am 27. April 2018 erscheint der von Michael HeinSilvia von Steinsdorff und Felix Petersen herausgegebene Sonderband der Zeitschrift für Politik mit dem Titel „Die Grenzen der Verfassung“. Der Band (das vollständige Inhaltsverzeichnis findet sich hier) enthält unter anderem einen Beitrag von Annette Förster und Matthias Lemke zum Begriff der „staatlichen Notwehr“. Hier der deutsch- und englischsprachige Abstract:

Zusammenfassung: Der Begriff „staatliche Notwehr“ wird in den verschiedensten Kontexten verwendet: von der Folterdebatte um Entführungsfälle oder terroristische Anschläge, über die Sicherheitsverwahrung bis hin zum Ankauf von CDs mit Daten möglicher deutscher Steuerhinterzieher. Der Verweis auf das Vorliegen einer Notwehrsituation fungiert dabei häufig als Ausweg aus einer Debatte um Staatshandeln an den Grenzen von Legalität, Legitimität, Rechtsordnung und Verfassung. Wir argumentieren, dass die Konstruktion einer „staatlichen Notwehr“ nicht nur begrifflich nicht überzeugt, sondern auch das Fundament demokratischer Rechtsstaatlichkeit angreift, indem sie bei wiederholter Inanspruchnahme dem Staat sukzessive Handlungsspielräume jenseits der Verfassung erschließt. Stattdessen handelt es sich um eine Pflichtenkollision, die diskursiv gelöst werden muss.

Summary: The term „state self-defense“ is used in different contexts: in the torture debate with regard to kidnapping scenarios and terrorist attacks, as well as in the debates on preventive detention or the purchase of CDs with data on potential tax evaders. Pointing to a case of state self-defense can function as a way out of a debate on the legality and legitimacy of state action at and beyond the limits of the legal order and the constitu- tion. We argue that the construction of „state self-defense“ is not only incorrect; its repeated usage is an attack on the fundaments of the democratic rule of law, as it gradually enlarges the scope of action of the state beyond the constitutional boundaries. Instead, the conflict between different state responsibilities needs be resolved through public discourse.

Der Band ist aus der gleichnamigen Tagung des DVPW-Arbeitskreises „Politik und Recht“ hervorgegangen, die im September 2016 an der HU Berlin stattgefunden hat.

DVPW-Kongress 2018: Update

Das Gesamtprogramm zum 27. Wissenschaftlichen Kongress der DVPW „Grenzen der Demokratie / Frontiers of Democracy“ vom 25. bis 28. September 2018 an der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main ist nun veröffentlicht. Das von Annette Förster (RWTH Aachen) und Matthias Lemke (HS Bund, Bundespolizei) organisierte Panel „Normalisierung der Grenzüberschreitung – Terrorismusbekämpfung durch Demokratien im Ausnahmezustand“ ist für

Dienstag, 25.9.18, 16 – 17:30 Uhr

am Campus Westend, Max-Horkheimer-Str. 4, Seminarhaus, Seminarraum SH 2.101 angesetzt.