States of emergency do not only imply a signiﬁcant change in the balance of powers between the three branches of government, they are also very frequently declared: between 1985 and 2014, at least 137 countries were subject to at least one such event. This contribution is the ﬁrst to systematically inquire into the factors determining such declarations. We ﬁnd that constitutions matter and that descriptive statistics indicate that countries without constitutionalized emergency provisions declare states of emergency signiﬁcantly more often than countries with such provisions. Further analysis shows that it is crucial to distinguish between states of emergency declared as a consequence of a natural disaster from those declared as a consequence of political turmoil. Distinguishing between the costs of declaring an emergency and its beneﬁts, we ﬁnd that the less costly it is to declare an emergency, the more emergencies will be called on the grounds of natural disasters but not on the grounds of political turmoil. This is, hence, more evidence that constitutions matter. Finally, emergencies based on political turmoil are more likely to be declared if an economic crisis is hitting the country, large natural disasters are more likely to lead to an SOE when more powers are allocated to the legislature, and results suggest that even military coup governments are subject to constitutional constraints.
European Journal of Political Economy
Why Do Governments Call a State of Emergency? On the Determinants of Using Emergency Constitutions
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