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Curfew only in greatest need TIME ONLINE

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We know curfews especially in connection with authoritarian regimes or a military coup. How does that work in democracy? Legal scientist Volker Boehme-Neßler explains why our constitution only allows curfews as a last resort.

We are at war, says the French president and imposes one Curfew for all of France. They have been around for a long time in Italy and Spain. The logic behind it: emergency situations require drastic measures. Experts are discussing whether a curfew would also make sense in Germany. The first politicians are now thinking about it publicly. Does the German Basic Law even allow a curfew?

A curfew reaches into the innermost core of the democracy on. Leaving the apartment, going out and talking to each other – that is democracy if you reduce it to the essentials. When democracy was invented in ancient Athens, the focus was on the agora: the marketplace where citizens come together to discuss problems and make decisions. A vital public life is essential to democracy. A curfew is, in this way, the opposite of democracy.

Togetherness makes you strong – also politically

It is therefore no wonder that we know curfews especially in connection with authoritarian regimes or a military coup. If you want to break democratic resistance, you have to prevent the people from meeting, gathering and organizing outside. Because togetherness makes you strong, also and especially politically. It is therefore no wonder that many revolutions emanated from gatherings in public places. Does that mean that a curfew in Germany would be unconstitutional?

The German constitution is deeply democratic and liberal. It also knows what framework conditions democracy needs. And it aims to ensure these framework conditions. Several fundamental rights therefore protect the opportunities for citizens to go outside, move freely from one place to another, to be in public places and to gather. This guarantees the classic basic requirements for democratic decision-making.

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