Elections during COVID-19 Pandemic in the Light of Democratic Values and International Standards of Human Rights Protection
Purpose: The aim of the paper is to establish whether in the light of international standards holding elections during the COVID-19 pandemic at a time resulting from constitutional regulations should be treated as an absolute instrument of protection of democracy and of personal political rights, or should such a circumstance be considered as an extraordinary premise that allows changing the date of the elections. Design/Methodology/Approach: The research was based on the method of interpretation of norms of applicable law and the comparative method was used as subsidiary. In the first part standards of human rights protection and standards of organization of elections resulting from acts constituted by the UN and the Council of Europe are analysed. The second part analyses decisions of selected countries in which election-related activity fell for the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings: Research results have confirmed a thesis according to which in an extraordinary situation, where it is necessary to choose between the value in the form of human life and health and the implementation of political rights, priority should be given to the former. Practical Implications: The research presented in this paper is of a particularly significant dimension. On the one hand, it points to the absence of real preparedness of national legal orders for extraordinary situations which threaten not only the operation of states as organizations, but also human life. Secondly, they point out how states may handle such situations in the absence of solutions at the constitutional or statute level. This issue is so significant because situations similar to the COVID-19 pandemic may occur also in the future. The experience to-date may thus become a sui generis determinant for activity in the future and provide an impulse to amend regulations. Originality/Value: According to the authors the pandemic, as a state in which public life and health becomes threatened requires competent public authorities to take specific organizational and legal measures, sometimes also in reference to fundamental principles of the functioning of the state and the entire administrating apparatus.