Policy Responses to the Coronavirus in Germany
In The World Before and After COVID-19: Intellectual Reflections on Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations, edited by Gian Luca Gardini. Stockholm – Salamanca: European Institute of International Relations, 2020
7 Pages Posted: 31 May 2020 Last revised: 19 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 8, 2020
Faced with major crises, policymakers are at risk of various pathologies Even in the absence of such pathologies, governments, when faced with a major crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have strong incentives to try to go it alone at the national level: Both policy implementation and political accountability still mostly take place at the national level. Federal political systems, such as Germany, face similar challenges at the sub-national level. At the same time, Louis Brandeis' classic depiction of U.S. states as "laboratories of democracy" reminds us that federalism offers opportunities for trying different policy responses and learning from the differing results, especially when federalism has "experimentalist" characteristics to encourage feedback and learning. We provide a brief overview of the public and political discourse in Germany, as well as the German federal and state-level policy responses, during the first months of the pandemic and an early, tentative assessment of commonalities, divergence, pathologies, and learning – as well as broader implications for conflict and cooperation in Europe and beyond.
Keywords: COVID-19, public policy, health policy, federalism, public opinion, Germany
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation