Much attention has been given to the challenge posed by the covid-19 pandemic to people’s health, to public health systems and to the global economy. Insufficient attention has been given to the challenge posed by the 2019 novel coronavirus to legislatures, the vital organ of democracy. This article develops a comprehensive analysis of the multiple ways in which the pandemic challenges legislatures and their operation, drawing on illustrative examples from various countries around the world. It argues that covid-19 poses a unique and complex challenge for legislatures; resulting from the characteristics of this pandemic and the ways they interact with the fundamental institutional features of legislatures; the typical demographic traits of legislators; the psychological biases that can prejudice legislatures’ ability to evaluate the risk; and the effects of emergencies on legislatures. The article then delves into an in-depth case study analysis of Israel to analyze how the pandemic particularly challenges parliaments in countries where covid-19 coincides with a pre-existing political crisis. By understanding the complex challenges posed by covid-19 on parliaments, we can help ensure that parliaments, and perhaps ultimately democracy itself, would not become casualties of covid-19.
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