Research Line: Populism and Pandemics

Over the past decade, reports published by international institutions, point to a significant decline in the number of countries living in democracy, as well as the increasing decline in the quality of democracy. These trends have deepened, worldwide, with the outbreak of the pandemic at the end of 2019.

Under the pretext of controlling the pandemic, governments and authorities prevented peaceful protests, persecuted media outlets and critics of democratic regimes, and enacted laws aimed at limiting civil rights. Censorship of information and misinformation also grew with the pandemic, with a number of authoritarian, but also democratic governments passing legislation to impose “controls/limits” on information.

In certain democratic regimes there has been an attempt to devalue the disease and its spread, as happened at the beginning of the pandemic in the UK, in times of Brexit and Boris Johnson, in Brazil with Bolsonaro, in Indonesia with Duterte, and in the US with Trump. These rulers built a strongly populist and nationalist discourse, supported by social media, in order to justify the choices made that tended to downplay the severity of the disease at the expense of fundamental freedoms and the functioning of the economy.

In contrast, autocratic and, at the same time, collectivist-oriented governments, such as China or Singapore, took not only drastic measures of confinement, but also aggressive public health policies that, ignoring civil rights and liberties, proved to be more effective in the short and medium term in containing the pandemic.

This line of research integrates all works and projects that have this theme as an objective of analysis.