At the time when Italy was trying to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the northern region of Lombardy, politics in Slovakia were in the middle of a heated campaign in the run-up to the general election on 29 February 2020. Many holidaymakers used the opportunity to vote from abroad through postal ballot, without the need to return early from their travel abroad. The first case of the disease was confirmed in Slovakia on 6 March. Thereafter, everything unfolded quickly. The country closed its borders to non-residents and non-citizens on 13 March. All international travel by air and land halted. The number of confirmed cases was up to a hundred in the early days of the emergency, with no deaths.The new government formed within three weeks of the election. The most substantial change in the executive for almost a decade happened inconspicuously because of the impending public health crisis, which overshadowed everything else. The new government headed by the winning party OĽaNO (Ordinary People and Independent Personalities) replaced in power the party of three-time PM Rober Fico. New PM Igor Matovič came into power on an anti-corruption platform, and it was immediately not clear if he was ready to fight against a global pandemic instead. The government, consisting of four parties with the constitutional majority, was formally appointed on 21 March and had to focus its attention on contingency planning immediately, withouth having the benefit of experience and comprehensive understanding of the processes in the healthcare system. Within four days of appointment, on 25 March, the government secured passage of omnibus emergency legislation ("COVID-19 emergency legislative package"), which focused primarily on two areas: quick adjustments to secure continuous functioning of the judiciary, and the implementation of a scheme for tracking and retaining phone data. In the first two sections of this contribution, we examine the legal framework of the state of emergency in Slovakia and the key provisions of the omnibus legislation. In the third section, we pick five measures which temporarily restricted human rights and freedoms of specific groups of citizens, namely foreigners, persons returning from abroad, members of the ethnic minority in several hotspots of COVID-19, and seniors. The relative inexperience of the new government led to it committing mistakes that infringed In this contribution. We pick five of them, with the most consequence for the rights and freedoms of citizens.
The Interest Representation during the Coronavirus Crisis (InterCov) Project set out to assess the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on interest representation and political advocacy.In this report, we summarise important descriptive patters in the data collected through a cross-country online survey, which we conducted in June and July 2020 in nine European countries (Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, France) and at the EU level.In the report, we discuss initial findings on six questions that we expect to be of interest to both interest organisations and scholars alike:- Did Covid-19 change the involvement of interest organisations in decision-making and public debates?- For whom did access to policy discussions change under the spread of Covid-19?- Who faced mobilisation problems during the Covid-19 crisis?- How did lobbying intensity on different Coronavirus-related policy vary?- How do organisations perceive their impact on crisis management policies in Covid-19 times?- What potential insights we can use to develop sustainable advocacy and public affairs strategies in the near future?These findings were also communicated in a series of Zoom Events for survey respondents and other interested parties in October 2020.For more information, see: https://www.wiebkejunk.com/intercov-project