Parliamentary Activity and Legislative Oversight during the
Coronavirus Pandemic - A Comparative Overview
(March 22, 2020)
The novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is extremely contagious and
currently incurable. Hence, much of the efforts to contain the pandemic have focused on social
distancing, prohibiting gatherings and even curfews. The Coronavirus poses a new dual
challenge for legislatures. First, the Coronavirus, and the measures taken to contain its spread,
make it difficult and even dangerous for parliaments to operate, given that legislatures are by
their very nature large multi-member bodies whose operation requires assembling a large
group of people together to deliberate and vote. Second, the Coronavirus pandemic creates a
sense of emergency that empowers the executive branch and emboldens it to assert greater
authority at the expenses of the legislature.
Despite these challenges, the continued operation of legislatures throughout the
Coronavirus crisis, and particularly the maintenance of legislative oversight of the executive,
has never been more vital. Legislatures have a crucial role in checking the executive and
ensuring that countries will not lose their constitutional and democratic values in the process
of managing the Coronavirus crisis.
This report begins by explicating the novel dual challenge the Coronavirus pandemic
poses for legislatures. It than focuses on elaborating on the unique challenge currently faced
by the Israeli Parliament. It explains how the unique combination between the Coronavirus
pandemic and the complex political situation in Israel, has made the issue of parliamentary
operation during the Coronavirus pandemic particularly acute and urgent.
Against this background, this report examines whether and how parliaments in other
democracies are operating during this crucial period of the evolving Coronavirus pandemic.
Drawing on a combination of two main types of sources – a network of expert academics and
a network of parliamentary research centers – it presents a novel and timely comparative
overview about current parliamentary activity during the Coronavirus pandemic. The report
covers 26 democratic parliaments from Europe, North America, Asia, Israel and Australia. It
finds that most parliaments continue to operate during the Coronavirus crisis (including in
countries in which the pandemic is quite substantial and in countries where legislators
themselves were among those diagnosed with the Coronavirus). It also finds that even though
some parliaments continue with business as usual, many parliaments are beginning to modify
their operation, and generally show an ability to adapt to meet the Coronavirus challenge.
* Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law; Founding Co-Chair of
The Israeli Association of Legislation; and General Editor of The Theory and Practice of Legislation. ©
2020, Ittai Bar-Siman-Tov. I am grateful to the 26 colleagues from 18 countries for providing country
reports. Their names are mentioned in the footnotes below as sources for each country report. I also thank
Itay Cohen, Chani Koth and Tair Samimi Golan for excellent research assistance.
I. Background and Motivation:
A. General Global Background: The Coronavirus Pandemic as a Dual Challenge
The 2019 novel Coronavirus is posing a great challenge to the health systems
and to societies in general around the world. The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-
19) was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March
According to the WHO, as of March 21, 2020, there have been 266,073
confirmed cases and 11,184 confirmed deaths, across 183 countries, areas or
The Coronavirus is extremely contagious, and as of now, there is
no vaccine or specific treatment that can prevent or cure the disease.
so far have focused on protective measures and preventive measures to try to limit the
spread of the disease. These include, inter alia, travel restrictions, maintaining distance
between people, limiting gatherings, facility closures, quarantines, and curfews.
The Coronavirus also poses new and serious challenges for legislatures in many
countries around the world. The challenge is two-fold. First, the Coronavirus, and the
measures taken to contain its spread, make it difficult for parliaments to operate.
Parliaments by their very nature are large multi-member bodies whose operation
requires assembling a large group of people together to deliberate and vote. Moreover,
most (if not all) parliaments' rules of procedure demand physical presence for this
assembly to be legal, and most parliaments have mandatory quorum rules (often
enshrined in a constitutional norm).
Parliaments also tend to be quite traditional and
customary, and therefore do not tend to be quick in adopting digital and technological
alternatives to the traditional physical-presence and paper-based legislative process.
The second challenge is that governments in many countries have treated this
situation as an emergency (either in practice or also formally declaring a national state
of emergency). Naturally and commonly, during states of emergency, executives want
to accumulate power, centralize authority and be as effective, swift and expedient as
They tend to want to circumvent the legislatures' cumbersome legislative
process and evade parliamentary scrutiny. The Coronavirus crisis is no different, as
many heads of the executive branch around the world declared "war" on the invisible
See https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 (accessed March 21, 2020).
protective measures against the new coronavirus); Laurel Wamsley, "Life During Coronavirus: What
Different Countries Are Doing To Stop The Spread" NPR (March 10, 2020), at
See Bjorn Erik Rasch, Parliamentary Voting Procedures, in PARLIAMENTS AND MAJORITY RULE IN
WESTERN EUROPE 488, 497–499 (Herbert Doring ed., 1995). Ittai Bar-Siman-Tov, The Law of
Lawmaking, 37 TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 645 (2016) (Hebrew).
See Wim Voermans, W. Fokkema & R. van Wijk, Free the Legislative Process of its Paper Chains:
IT-inspired Redesign of The Legislative Procedure Cycle, 14 LOOPHOLE—JOURNAL COMMONW.
ASSOC. LEGIS. COUNS. 54–73 (2012).
Posner, Eric A., and Adrian Vermeule. The executive unbound: after the madisonian republic. Oxford
University Press, 2011. Ackerman, Bruce. "The emergency constitution." Yale lJ 113 (2003): 1029.
Consequently, many governments have reacted by adopting far-
reaching restrictive measures to combat the spread of the Coronavirus.
often infringe on a host of fundamental human rights (such as liberty, freedom of
movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of occupation, and privacy) and raise rule-
These measures are mostly adopted through executive orders,
governmental decrees, emergency regulations and so forth – all being legal norms that
are made by the executive branch, bypassing the traditional legislative process by
parliaments. This raises crucial questions about the power of the executive and the role
of the legislative branch in overseeing this power. It raises vital questions to the
wellbeing of democracy itself during the Coronavirus crisis.
Thus, the Coronavirus pandemic poses a dual challenge for legislatures: the
pandemic makes it difficult and even dangerous for legislators to operate according to
regular order in their elected assemblies; and it creates a sense of emergency that
empowers the executive branch and emboldens its motivations to assert greater
authority at the expenses of the legislature.
At the same time, the continued operation of legislatures throughout the
Coronavirus crisis, and particularly the maintenance of legislative oversight of the
executive, has never been more vital. The executive branch, and the health system, have
a crucial role in managing the crisis and ensuring that countries will overcome the
Coronavirus pandemic. Legislatures (together with courts) have a crucial role in
checking the executive and ensuring that countries will not lose their constitutional
values and democratic soul in the process.
B. The Unique Israeli Case
The challenges discussed thus far are germane for every country dealing with
the Coronavirus pandemic (which will soon be practically every country in the world).
Yet, this issue has recently become particularly acute and urgent in Israel.
To be sure, in theory at least, the Coronavirus should have posed somewhat less
of a challenge to the operation of the Israeli Parliament compared to other countries.
First, because, at present, the Coronavirus pandemic is relatively contained in Israel (as
of March 21, 2020, there were 883 reported cases, resulting in one death of an 88 year-
old). Second, because the Israeli Parliament is one of the few parliaments in the world,
whose rules of procedure do not impose any quorum requirement at all, either in the
plenum or in committees.
Moreover, unlike many parliaments, the rules governing
the legislative process in Israel are quite flexible and easy to amend, as they are almost
entirely regulated by the parliament's internal rules, rather than statues or constitutional
Ronan Cormacain, Does law fall silent in the war against Covid-19?, March 18, 2020,
Id; Wamsley, supra note 4.
Cormacain, supra note 8.
Ittai Bar-Siman-Tov, The Law of Lawmaking, 37 TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 645 (2016)
In practice, however, the question of parliament's operation during the
Coronavirus crisis became particularly acute, due to a unique combination between the
Coronavirus pandemic and the complex political situation in Israel. Since its onset, the
Coronavirus crisis in Israel has been managed by an outgoing unelected government
headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, while Parliament has long been inactive
following three rounds of elections. Following the results of the last round of elections
on March 2, 2020, the Right-wing bloc headed by PM Netanyahu's Likud party has 58
seats (out of 120) in parliament, whereas the Center-Left bloc headed by Benny Gantz's
Blue and White party has 61 seats. In light of this majority of supporters in the
parliament, on March 16, Israel’s President gave the mandate to try to form a new
coalition government to Benny Ganz.
Meanwhile, the outgoing government headed by PM Netanyahu adopted a
series of far-reaching and growingly restrictive measures to combat the spread of the
Coronavirus. These include travel bans, suspending many non-essential jobs,
prohibiting gatherings of over ten people, closing many public services and facilities
and banning many social activities, and eventually instructing all citizens to remain at
home (which was recently turned into an official enforceable curfew). Many of these
measures were largely accepted as prudent and necessary. Yet, two measures raised
particular criticisms and constitutional challenges: First, the Justice Minister expanded
his powers to freeze court activity and has exercised this power to freeze almost all
judicial activity in all courts but the Supreme Court. Second, the government adopted
emergency regulations allowing security forces to use technological surveillance
measures to track the location of Israeli citizens in order to track the whereabouts of
possible Coronavirus carriers and warn people who have come in contact with them.
All these measures were adopted by the government with no parliamentary involvement
and no legislative oversight.
On March 16, the Director General of the Ministry of Health sent a letter to the
Director of Parliament regarding the operations of Parliament during the Coronavirus
crisis. The letter begins by stressing that the Ministry of Health's Coronavirus
Regulations apply to citizens, but do not apply to Parliament, as the Parliament is
sovereign to decide on its own proceedings.
Nevertheless, on March 18, the Speaker
used his authority to issue an order that will apply these regulations on Parliament. The
Speaker wrote in his letter to the MPs that the Parliament is sovereign to decide on its
own proceedings, but he has voluntarily decided to accept the Ministry of Health's
Coronavirus Regulations to protect the health of the MPs and Parliament employees.
These regulations hold, inter alia, that there would be no gatherings of more than 10
people in one room and that people must maintain a distance of at least two meters from
Letter from Moshe Bar Siman Tov, Director General of the Ministry of Health, to Albert Sahrowitz,
Director of the Knesset, regarding the operations of the Knesset during the corona crisis (16.03.20),
each other. The Speaker stressed, however, that his order will not preclude the operation
of parliamentary and committee proceedings, but merely effect their manner.
It should also be noted that on March 20, 2020 it was revealed that as the cabinet
debated the new and more stringent emergency Coronavirus Regulations that impose
closure orders on all Israelis from March 20, PM Netanyahu and three Likud ministers
demanded that Parliament not be exempt from those orders. Yet, this effort to shutdown
Parliament was eventually rejected by the other ministers, after the Attorney General
advised that it would be unconstitutional for the government to close Parliament
through executive emergency orders.
The new Parliament was sworn-in on March 16, and a majority of MPs asked
to elect a new Speaker and to begin the process of forming committees as soon as
possible. Yet, both processes were so far blocked by the outgoing Speaker of
Parliament. On March 18, the Speaker halted proceedings of the plenum after only three
minutes and adjourned Parliament. The different factions have varying versions about
the reasons for this decision. The speaker argued that he has adjourned Parliament in
order to allow the different parties to reach agreements about the make-up of the
committees, and criticized Ganz's party unwillingness to compromise. Part of the
disagreement is that Ganz's party, which enjoys a majority in parliament, demanded to
keep the usual rules in which committees have 17 members whose composition is
determined by the relative size of the various parties. The Likud party, on the other
hand, demanded that committees will be limited to 10 members and their composition
will give equal representation to the Likud's right wing bloc. They cite the Coronavirus
regulations that do not allow gatherings of more than 10 people. Ganz's party, on the
other hand, argues that the outgoing Speaker (who is from Netanyahu's Likud party) is
acting at PM Netanyahu's behest and uses the Coronavirus as an excuse to prevent the
operation of Parliament.
The speakers' decision to adjourn parliament and postpone the election of a new
Speaker and the process of forming committees, sparked legal and public criticisms, as
well as two appeals to the Supreme Court.
As of the writing this report, the Supreme
Court is expected to hear oral arguments in these petitions on March 22 in the afternoon.
Against this backdrop, the purpose of this comparative study was to examine
whether and how parliaments in other democracies are operating during this crucial
period of the evolving Coronavirus pandemic.
Special order: The operations of the Knesset under the corona, March 18, 2020,
Yossi Verter & Noa Landau, Netanyahu, Likud Ministers Sought Israeli Parliament Closure Under
New Coronavirus Regulations, Haaretz, March 20, 2020, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-
See, e.g., An Open Letter to the Speaker and the Legal Advisor of the Knesset, VerfBlog, 2020/3/19,
Demonstrators protest Knesset closure, fly black flags over threats to democracy, Times of Israel (March
19, 2020), https://www.timesofisrael.com/demonstrators-protest-knesset-closure-scuffle-with-police-in-
On March 18, 2020, I have written colleagues who are public law and legislation
experts from various countries and asked them to answer three questions:
1. Is the legislature/Parliament in your country currently operating?
2. If so, is it operating despite Anti-coronavirus governmental decrees
that restrict gatherings?
3. If so, do you know if Parliament adopted special procedures or
technological solutions to allow Parliament (and parliamentary
committees) to operate despite the risks of spreading the Coronavirus
(and/ or decrees that limit gatherings)?
As of March 22, I received answers from 26 colleagues covering 18 countries
(as well as some local state/provincial/canton legislatures) and the EU (I have
mentioned the source, except in cases in which the respondents asked that their names
will not be mentioned).
While I was drafting a report based on these replies, it turned out that to two
additional bodies in Israel were undertaking a similar endeavor:
1. Orly Almagor Lotan & Dinah Tzadok, "Parliamentary Activity during the
Outbreak of the Coronavirus - Initial Information," Knesset Research and
Information Center (18.3.20) (in Hebrew).
This report was based mainly on information received by the Knesset Research
and Information Center through requests for information from the European
Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation (Requests number 4333,
4346, 4350 and 4354).
2. A comparative survey by Chen Friedberg, Avital Friedman, Asaf Shapira &
Shany Mor, Israel Democracy Institute (19.3.20),
This survey was based on the aforementioned report by the Knesset Research
and Information Center, supplemented by an examination of Parliaments'
websites and correspondence with colleagues.
Hence, my team of research assistants (Itay Cohen, Chani Koth and Tair Samimi
Golan) and I, have integrated the information from these three sources: the answers I
received from my aforementioned correspondence with my 26 colleagues (hereinafter:
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence); the report by the Knesset Research and Information
Center (hereinafter: Knesset RIC report); and the survey by Friedberg et al. from the
Israel Democracy Institute (hereinafter: IDI survey).
This triangulation of these sources allows for a reinforcing combination of two
main types of sources: a network of expert academics and a network of parliamentary
research centers. We also supplemented these sources with internet searches of
governmental websites and newspaper reports. Based on this integration, we have
produced the following comparative overview about current parliamentary activity
during the Coronavirus emergency. It covers 26 democratic parliaments from Europe,
North America, Asia, Israel and Australia.
We limited our sources to replies and reports during the timeframe of March 18
to March 22, 2020. This was necessary in order to ensure an accurate picture and a valid
comparison, as the current situation in many countries is very dynamic. This means that
this report should be read as providing an accurate snapshot of a specific period during
the ongoing and evolving global Coronavirus situation. This report is focused on a
crucial period: it examines the parliamentary situation a week after the WHO has
declared the Coronavirus a pandemic (on March 11, 2020), and after all the surveyed
countries have already experienced a rise in Coronavirus cases (with some Parliament
members in these countries themselves experiencing quarantine or even sickness).
is within this timeframe that many of these countries began the critical debate on
whether and how parliaments should operate during the Coronavirus emergency. Of
course, it would be helpful to repeat this comparative endeavor and reexamine the
situation in the various parliaments in additional future timeframes.
III. Findings from the Comparative Survey:
A. General Overview
In some of the countries surveyed in this study (such as Italy, Portugal and
Spain), states of emergency were already declared and the government has issued
decrees that limit the gathering of people, and in some cases also imposed curfews. Yet,
from the responses I received, it appears that in all the surveyed countries it was taken
for granted that the government cannot shutdown parliament or determine its mode of
operation. It was agreed that it was up to the parliament to determine its operation
during the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, the general view in the majority of responses I received was that
parliament must continue to operate throughout the Coronavirus crisis. Indeed, most
surveyed parliaments (22 out of 26) continue to operate. Impressively, this is true even
for Italy - the country that has so far been most ravaged by the Coronavirus, and whose
death toll surpassed the death toll in China.
This is also true despite the fact that in
several of these parliaments (such as in France, the UK and the US), several MPs and
minsters have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
In the four exceptions to this
general trend, even in parliaments that closed their session or suspended their activity,
this has always been a decision made the parliament (rather than the executive), and
usually at least some legislative oversight was maintained. For example, in Lithuania,
Parliament has closed until April 7, but plenary meetings and committees on urgent
issues are held; and in Slovenia parliamentary activity was generally deferred, but the
National Assembly will hold meetings about exceptional cases.
For a snapshot of the state of the pandemic in each county during this time see
For example: In France, , the lower chamber (Assemblée Nationale) continues to operate despite the
fact that 20 MPs out of 577 are said to have the virus; in the UK Parliament maintains operation as usual,
even though a number of members of parliament have contracted the coronavirus including the Minister
of Health; and in the US, Congress is operating as usual, even though two members of the US House of
Representatives have announced they have the coronavirus; five other members of Congress have put
themselves in quarantine.
Of the legislatures that continue to operate, there appear to be two models: some
legislatures (such as in the US, UK, and South Korea) continue as usual with their
regular mode of operation; whereas others have modified their operation. It appears that
modified operation is becoming more common (and that even in some of the
parliaments who have made no changes to regular operation, modifications are
beginning to be considered). One of the common modifications include reduced number
of meetings and changes to the parliamentary agenda, focusing on the Coronavirus and
other necessary and urgent issues, while postponing less immediate issues. Another
common modification is finding various means to limit the number of MPs attending,
while maintaining the minimal quorum rules and keeping the proportional
representation according to the relative size of the parties. Additional modifications
include videoconferencing and other technological solutions to avoid or minimize
physical presence (albeit in some parliaments this is still considered problematic given
quorum rules that require presence at least in the plenum).
B. Summary of the findings for all surveyed parliaments
In this table, I only focus on special procedures or technological solutions that were been adopted for
the operation of parliament. I do not discuss other external issues such as whether parliament imposed
travel restrictions, whether it was closed to public tours, whether parliament closed other facilities and
building such libraries etc. and whether staff continue to come to work or work remotely. I should note
that the sources used in this report did contain information on these issues for several countries, and
generally speaking, many parliaments adopted at least some of these measures. Yet, these issues are
beyond the scope of the current inquiry.
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Rosalind Dixon;
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Patricia Popelier.
Slightly similar to Israel, Belgium also has a minority government. The Belgian Parliament gave the
government a limited vote of confidence to deal with the corona virus crisis.
IDI survey; Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with James B. Kelly.
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Czech colleague who preferred to be unnamed, but has kindly
submitted a report and referred us to the following sources: Resolution The Government Of The Czech
Republic of 15 March 2020 on the adoption of a crisis measure https://tinyurl.com/wqwkgwx ;
Both chambers remain in session. The most recent meetings in both chambers were shorter than usual
with respect to the health risks, but they took place. As for the Chamber of Deputies, the next meeting
is scheduled for April 14. Meanwhile, committees continue to operate and the board/presidency of the
chamber will be operative (in fact, they already met and discussed the current situation with the executive
via video conference). Moreover, the President of the Chamber of Deputies announced that if needed,
the Chamber is ready to meet earlier and vote on the pressing pandemic-related legislation, eventually in
the regime of legislative emergency. On March 11, the meeting of the Chamber of Deputies was
terminated and the following press release was issued: “The next meeting is scheduled for April, 14.
Should the impact of the spread of the new type of coronavirus be greater than expected, the Chamber is
Is Parliament Operating?
Special Procedures Or Technological Solutions20
Parliament is operating
No special procedures. Parliament is expected to reduce the
number of attending MPs from 151 to 90 next week.
Parliament is operating
No special procedures. The plenum was sanitized, and the
members of parliament kept distance of a few chairs between
them. Voluntary reduction of MPs present.
Parliament is operating.24
A debate was held in the presence of the fraction leaders, the
prime minister and the vice prime ministers only. The pulpit was
disinfected after each speaker.
Parliament has closed for five
weeks. Prime minister, however,
announced that a short session
will be called to pass the
legislation required considering
the Corona virus.
No special procedures. At the present time, the planned short
session will only be the quorum required – 20 out of 338 MPs.
Parliament is partially operating
(the Chamber of Deputies' next
meeting is scheduled for April
14, while the board/presidency
of the chamber will be operative
and committees continue to
The board of the Chamber of Deputies and presidents of some
political parties met in a crisis regime and discussed the current
situation with the Prime Minister and with the Chairman of the
Central Crisis Staff via video conference.
ready to meet and to quickly vote on the necessary legislative changes related to the epidemic.”
According to the Vice-President of the chamber, “The Chamber's work is not over. The committees shall
meet as agreed.” https://www.psp.cz/sqw/cms.sqw?z=13746
As for the Senate, the most recent meeting took place on March 18. The date of the next meeting depends
on the development of the situation and, especially, on the legislative activity of the Chamber of Deputies.
Knesset RIC report; IDI survey.
Committee and plenary meetings take place, but all non-essential proposals have been postponed.
Knesset RIC report; IDI survey.
Parliament continues to operate, but meetings have been minimized; will only deal with necessary or
On March 26, the Estonian parliament is set to elect its executive, it is determined that the election will
take place, but in a way that reduces congregation and contact between MPs
IDI survey; Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Patricia Popelier.
Knesset RIC report; IDI survey.
The agenda of the Parliament was reduced; the number of meetings was reduced, but the necessary
meetings of the committees are held .
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Olivier Rozenberg; Knesset RIC report.
Oral questions to the government are maintained once a week. Both plenary and committees continue
to operate, but, generally, the parliamentary agenda in the plenum and committees has been reduced to
focusing on the relevant issues to deal with the outbreak of the coronavirus. As a rule, committee
meetings not pertaining to emergency bills or discussions linked to the coronavirus have been postponed.
Parliament is operating.29
The number of MPs present in the plenary during urgent
proposals was limited to 95 (out of 170), MPs do not sit in the
permanent seats but are scattered to keep their distance.
Parliament workers are not present when voting and the
counting is done by representatives of two parties (from the
coalition and opposition). The essential committee meetings are
held in a large hall, in order to keep safe distance.
Negotiations between the government and parliament are
ongoing on various topics, but by secure means like telephone,
video calls and e-mail.
Parliament is operating.31
Adjustments to the parliamentary agenda (focusing on urgent
The Parliament Constitutional Committee stated that the Rules
of Procedure and Internal Rules Act allows meetings and votes
to be held by “telework”, provided that it is possible to
participate and vote. Committees meet via video conference.
The European Parliament
continues to operate, but through
digital devices rather than
Conferences were cancelled and they moved to online meetings
Parliament is operating.34
Speaker of Parliament is allowed to make decisions regarding
the impact of the virus on parliamentary work. His decisions are
approved by the presidency, and by the chairmen of the factions.
The agenda of the Parliament was reduced.
Expert participation discussions are conducted by remote or
no further adjustments in plenary or committees' meetings and
there is no remote voting.
Parliament is operating.36
Change to the parliamentary agenda (focusing on necessary
issues related to coronavirus)
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Christoph Möllers; Knesset RIC report; IDI survey.
The Federal Parliament is in session, it has legislated last week and will legislate next week. The next
Bundesrat plenum meeting scheduled for April 3 is expected to take place.
There is a wider debate in the Federal and state parliaments about establishing emergency committees
that could act in the case of institutional incapacitation. Some state constitutions have such clauses, the
Federal does not have them. Some state parliaments used pairing agreements to hold plenary sessions
with only some MPs that corresponded to the distribution of parties in parliament (so called pairing
agreements). But this is only possible, if all parties agree. In Saxony this was not possible because the
right-wing AfD refused to cooperate. So, they had to congregate in full.
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Helen Xanthaki.
Parliament is operating, but has reduced the number of sittings.
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Tímea Drinóczi.
Plenum operates as usual and some committees continue to have sessions; On March 16 the Prime
Minister informed the plenary about the actions the government had taken and was planning to take
regarding the coronavirus.
For law-making sessions, the new rule is that there should be
only 3 representatives by group physically present (there are 8
groups currently) in committee as in the plenary.
Each group chair is exceptionally allowed to vote for his/her
whole group but, for the final vote on a bill, each MP is allowed
to let the Assembly services known in advance if their vote is
different from the chair (by phone or email).
Procedures are foreseen to avoid members to enter together in
meeting rooms. There should always be a one meter distance
committee meetings held via video conference.
Parliament is operating.38
Parliament stopped one type of procedure, the namentliche
Abstimmung, voting by name, which is not unimportant with
regard to the personal responsibility of the MPs because of the
necessary bodily presence.
It was decided not to hold physical meetings of the committees
if this was not required. Also, all committee decisions can be
made electronically or in writing.
According to the laws of parliament, the plenary requires the
physical presence of at least one member from each of the
federal states for voting.
Parliamentary workers were divided into two guards so that one
could be retained in the event of a contagion
A number of parliament members are in quarantine, however the
technological tools in place, enable them to work as usual from
Parliament is operating.41
Meetings are held with 1 meter distance between members.
Number of sittings reduced. Starting next week all state business
will be conducted electronically so this will presumably also
apply to parliament.
Parliament is operating.43
Currently no plans to suspend the activities of the Parliament, to
adopt special procedures or look for online options, etc. Seated
as usual (2 meters distance rule was not observed; did not wear
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Marco Cerase, Luigi Gianniti, Nicola Lupo & Giovanni
Piccrilli,. The respondents stressed that their responses reflect their personal opinions and not the official
position of the Italian parliament.
The Italian parliament continues to operate, although at a slower pace than usual (one plenary meeting
per week, more or less). Therefore, the parliamentary control on government is weaker than usual. The
parliament will meet regularly on March 25 (for questions to the Government), on March 31 (legislation)
and on April 1st.
Knesset RIC report; IDI survey.
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Rob van Gestel & Wim Voermans;
Parliament is still operating under the same constitutional and legal framework as usual, but parliament
decided to limit the number of plenary parliamentary meetings and to focus on necessary plenary
meetings, such as debates about the strategy of the government to fight the coronavirus.
Knesset RIC report; IDI survey.
Parliament is working, but during this period, Parliament will only deal with issues where its urgent
decision is required.
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Maciej Serowaniec.
Formally, Parliament has not closed down is operating as usual. However, in practice, only one Senate
meeting has been held in Poland since the virus was detected. This week, the situation should be clarified
with the upcoming sitting of the Sejm, which is to consider a bill supporting entrepreneurs during the
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with João Tiago Silveira & Rui Tavares Lanceiro;
Parliament is still operating, but parliament decided to limit the number sittings: Reduction of the
weekly Plenary Sittings from three to one, until Easter Sunday, unless circumstances require it; reduction
of Committee sittings to the necessary extent.
Parliament is operating.45
Reduction of number of sittings.
Strict measures to avoid contagion, such as temperature
measurement for all arrivals to the building.
The House asked the groups to self-limit the attendance and the
Senate decided to have the voting procedure lasting longer than
usual (to limit the number of senators in the room at the same
There are some discussions on the use of distance vote, but still
without any decision.
Parliament has closed until April
7th, but meetings and committees
on urgent issues are held.
An “Elderly Council” has been established to set the
parliament’s schedule. Meetings on urgent items are held via
Parliament is operating.48
limit on the number of plenary parliamentary meetings
no meetings or debates with more than 30 persons. But all this
is a matter of self-restriction under the normal procedures.
Parliament is operating.50
Limited meeting to necessary issues.
Self-limitation of MPs attended:
The number of parliament members have been reduced to reflect
the relative size of the parties from 169 to 87.
The discussions of the committees will be conducted in writing
or via video conferencing.
Parliament is operating (albeit
with limited activity in
Officially parliament is operating as usual, with no procedural
changes. In practice, legislative activity has been reduced.
Sejm is currently considering the idea that its upcoming meeting
would take place at a football stadium.
Parliament is operating.54
Reduction of the number of Plenary and committee Sittings
Interestingly, the government's situation in Romania is somewhat similar to Israel and Belgium:
in February the parliament passed a no-confidence, the outgoing Prime Minister got the mandate from
the president to form a government. He is now the head of a minority government. A vote of confidence
in the government was held on March 14th, even though members of parliament and the government are
Knesset RIC report.
On March 6, the Speaker of Parliament and the chairmen of the factions decided to reduce the activities
unrelated to the preparation of parliamentary sessions, and to reduce the number of those invited to the
parliamentary sessions.On March 16, the Presidency of Parliament decided that during March and April,
the parliament will hold meetings about exceptional cases only.
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Oksun Baek.
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Mauro Zamboni; IDI survey.
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Alexandre Flückiger & Felix Uhlmann; IDI survey.
The Spring session of the Federal Parliament was aborted on March 15 2020. The decision was taken
by the offices of the Chambers at the request of the administrative delegation, which is the supreme
direction of the administration of the Parliament.
The Plenary may, exceptionally, meet with only one-fifth of the
Members (that is the quorum limit), and decide with only that
number of MPs present, with those present representing the
absentees (reflecting the proportion of Parliamentary Groups).
Committees meet only with the Chair and the Coordinators of
the Parliamentary Groups
Parliament is operating (but
through digital devices).56
Parliament’s work is conducted online, including committees
Parliament is only partially
operating: the National
Assembly significantly limited
the number of meetings.58 In the
National Council, as of March
16, any parliamentary activity is
Parliament is considering holding meetings through VC only.
Parliament is operating.
The national assembly is operating as usual and is not
implementing any special procedures or limitations because of
A few weeks back there was a member of National assembly
who was in contact with a person who was diagnosed with
covid19 so assembly buildings were shut down for 24hrs for
cleaning, but apart from that there have been no issues with
Parliament is operating.
Some change to the parliamentary agenda (non-urgent activities
have been postponed).
Until March 30, the number of parliament members attending
has been reduced from 349 to 55 (reflecting the relative size of
The Parliament committees will operate almost all meetings
through “Zoom” or other similar technologies.
Federal Parliament is not
currently in session.62
However, a small committee of
each chamber has a say in federal
emergency measures, especially
At the moment, Parliament sees no legal means to replace
physical presence by electronic means, as the constitution has
explicit quorum requirement stipulating that a majority of
members is present. Still, it is an ongoing debate.
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Ronan Cormacain, Daniel Greenberg, & Helen Xanthaki;
Bar-Siman-Tov correspondence with Richard Briffault & Abbe Gluck.
on spending, so Parliament has
some influence even if not in
Parliament is operating.
Parliament is operating as usual and intends to continue to
operate as usual in any presently foreseeable circumstances.
However, a number of Parliamentary Committees are already
using remote working methods (including simple email
clearance of certain work) to continue functioning in the present
crisis, and some possibilities of proxy voting are considered.
Congress is operating.
Congress is operating as usual. No special protective or
technological measures taken at the federal or state level.
In the state of NY the governor has directed that all public
meetings of government agencies (state and local) must be on-
line, but that has not applied to the state legislature.
Congress is currently considering remote voting.