THE EMERGENCY MUST NOT TRAMPLE DEMOCRACY

by Ilio Masprone – Publisher – Knight of the Principality of Monaco for cultural merit

MONACO. It is not just me who says it: it is the whole history of the world that teaches and demonstrates how politicians are inclined to obtain more power during times of crisis. An adage says that every crisis brings dangers, but also opportunities, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, this is proving to be true. With the spread of the coronavirus, many governments have tried to tackle the pandemic by expanding their powers and capabilities, according to data collected by the Covid-19 Digital Rights Tracker and Civic Freedom Tracker. Legally, the emergency powers vary in different countries, and in any case, many are enshrined in a constitution that confers specific powers on the executive and requires time limits. Many (but not all) require the declaration of a “state of emergency”. Just as when an enemy is upon us, some extraordinary measures are needed in the unpredictable outbreak of a deadly pandemic. Lockdowns, for example, have saved millions of lives, but some measures can be built on a fundamentally wrong view of what to fear during an emergency. Left unchecked, these emergency powers are subject to abuse and what started as an exception can often become the norm. This is not an argument against swift, dramatic, and often beneficial actions like lockdowns, quarantines, police checks, and travel restrictions. But every action can and must be implemented in an open and democratic way, as was the case in the principality of Monaco, for example. Indeed, most citizens expressed strong majority support for blocking measures, but a recent study shows that nearly 50% of transmission reductions came from behavioural changes even before the various government-imposed blockades were introduced. The utmost attention is needed during this emergency because it is historically established that the politics of certain governments exploited the disaster. They stomped without restraint the fundamental rights of democracy and individual freedom through greater surveillance, strengthened security forces and powers extended. From Stalinism to Nazism, from the Chilean dictatorship to the Argentine Military Junta, to cite a few examples, the 20th century that just ended is full of these excesses. Looking forward that this pandemic carrying great opportunities, individually and locally it will still be essential to follow as much as possible the indications relating to travel abroad as well as to beach life, avoid gatherings during sporting events singers, carefully attend bars, restaurants, gyms etc. during this summer 2021, all this to spend it peacefully. The health prevention policies implemented by the Prince’s Government are allowing a gradual resumption of the economic and tourist activities of our beloved Principality of Monaco. Finally, summer will bring with it the long-awaited moment to rediscover the pleasures of life in Monte-Carlo. Step by step and in close collaboration with professional and economic actors, many sectors are relaunching their activities, in strict compliance with the safety measures against the pandemic; everything has been rethought and implemented to ensure that Europe’s most exclusive destination is also the safest! Attention and good civic education of locals and tourists will do the rest. Happy holiday.

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