Dissolution of Parliament does not prevent a new state of emergency
By this time, last year, Portugal was already in a state of emergency. One year after the pandemic and with 86% of the population with complete vaccination (and the elderly receiving the third dose), this scenario, despite the worsening of the pandemic situation, is still not on the table. However, with the Assembly of the Republic dissolved from the end of November or the beginning of December for early elections to be held on January 30, the question arises: with the Parliament dissolved, it is possible to decree a state of emergency, if necessary?
According to the regime of the state of siege and the state of emergency, it is possible. The declaration of a state of emergency remains the responsibility of the President of the Republic, after having heard the Government. Subsequently, the declaration must have the authorization of the Assembly of the Republic “or, when this is not in session and its immediate meeting is not possible, of the respective standing committee”, refers the regime. This is the case that Portugal will live in December and January if it needs to enter a state of emergency.
“When authorized by the Standing Committee of the Assembly of the Republic, the declaration of a state of siege or a state of emergency will have to be ratified by the Plenary as soon as it is possible to convene it “, adds the regime, specifying that “neither the Assembly of the Republic nor its Standing Committee may, respectively, authorize and confirm the authorization with amendments”. The standing committee is composed of deputies appointed by the parliamentary groups according to their respective representation.
This is corroborated by constitutionalist Tiago Duarte to the ECO: ” The Constitution of the Portuguese Republic expressly says that in the event of the dissolution of the Assembly of the Republic, it is the standing committee that decides “, he explains, noting that the plenary of Parliament must be convened immediately afterwards — not least because the current deputies maintain their mandate until the electoral act — for this one to vote. If the declaration fails, the state of emergency must end.
However, the professor of constitutional law at the Catholic University adds that the plenary would be convened “only for the purpose of voting on the state of emergency, leaving it after being in office.” In other words, deputies would not have any parliamentary instrument to oversee and oversee the Government with regard to the regulation of the state of emergency, which is carried out by the Executive in institutional coordination with the President of the Republic.
The standing commission of the Assembly of the Republic will be constituted after the dissolution, which can happen either at the end of November or at the beginning of December. By proposal of the PSD, this permanent commission should have a weekly meeting until January 30th, with the presence of members of the current Government. The parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, Adão Silva, admitted that it is not “usual” for the standing committee to meet weekly, but argued that this will be a period in which “the Government is in full function” so parliamentary oversight has to “to gain the possible dynamic within the constitutional and regimental rules”.
Until an eventual approval of the state of emergency, there are several measures that can be reintroduced since, at this moment, after the last phase of de-confinement, there are few remaining restrictions. Earlier this month, Expresso wrote that the Government was confident that it will not be necessary to introduce a state of emergency — no one has publicly ruled out that hypothesis in the past —, simply resorting to the instruments of the Basic Civil Protection Law depending on the evolution of the pandemic in next few weeks.