Covid-19 and democracy - Tackling the pandemic without doing away with democracy

Covid-19 and democracy – Tackling the pandemic without doing away with democracy

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In Germany, we are currently discussing what restrictions are acceptable in an open society when it comes to protecting individuals’ bodily integrity against the pandemic. The Federal Constitutional Court came down clearly on the side of democracy in overturning a protest ban. But governments around the world have restricted basic democratic rights such as freedom of assembly, stepped up state monitoring of citizens, muzzled the media with new laws and arrests, and expanded their own powers as part of their Covid-19 policy. Jörg Lau, writing in DIE ZEIT, describes the pandemic as an opportunity for “tyrants and tyrants-to-be”. Those making foreign and development policy must monitor this carefully. The Covid-19 pandemic is a catalyst for democracy’s demise.

Autocratisation processes had already overtaken democratisation processes at global level in 2019, the first time this had happened since 2001. Autocrats in Hungary, India, Brazil and Turkey are now exploiting the pandemic in order to weaken parliamentary scrutiny and massively restrict civic freedoms; repression against opposition groups is on the rise in Rwanda, the Philippines and Uganda. While democracies are by definition better equipped to limit the long-term effects of restrictions on freedom imposed due to the pandemic, there is no guarantee that they will be untouched. The economic downturn during the 2008 financial crisis already had far-reaching political consequences, giving rise to a number of populist and nationalist governments.


Read the full article here.

This blog first appeared on the DIE site. 

Author: Julia Leininger, DIE. 

Image courtesy of Cityswift via Flickr.

The views are those of the author and not necessarily those of ETTG.

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