The Political Implications of COVID-19
What Now for Populism?
This chapter briefly examines the political implications of COVID-19, focusing on the potential constraints and opportunities it poses for populism. Some initial comparative observations suggest the following patterns. First, populists in opposition are likely to be weakened electorally in the short-run, as voters support non-populists on the basis of valence voting. Second, this may not apply to populists in power, who may use emergency measures for democratic backsliding. Third, in the long-run, a potential economic crisis as a result of the pandemic may benefit populist parties, especially those in opposition as discontent voters may punish those in government for the poor managing of the health/economy trade-off. In sum, what will determine the direction of future political developments is the extent to which governments can balance the trade-offs involved in the Covid-19 crisis, including effective health management versus economic growth and individual freedoms versus collective security.