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Gender, Leadership and Representative Democracy

The Differential Impacts of the Global Pandemic

Kim Rubenstein, Trish Bergin, and Pia Rowe

Abstract

That effective leadership is crucial during global emergencies is uncontested. However what that leadership looks like, and how it plays out in different contexts is less straightforward. In representative democracy, diversity is considered to be a key element for true representation of the society. In addition, previous research has unequivocally demonstrated the positive impacts of gender equality in leadership. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare some of the real world implications of gender inequalities in the leadership context. In this article, we examine the differential impacts of COVID-19 on women, and reflect on potential pathways for women's active participation.

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Lauri Rapeli and Inga Saikkonen

Abstract

In this commentary, we discuss some possible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in both established and newer democracies. We expect that the pandemic will not have grave long-term effects on established democracies. We assess the future of democracy after COVID-19 in terms of immediate effects on current democratic leaders, and speculate on the long-term effects on support for democratic institutions and principles. We also discuss possible implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global trends in democratic backsliding. We predict that, in the short term, the repercussions of the pandemic can aggravate the situation in countries that are already experiencing democratic erosion. However, the long term economic effects of the pandemic may be more detrimental to non-democratic governance.

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The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Central and Eastern Europe

The Rise of Autocracy and Democratic Resilience

Petra Guasti

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a new and unparalleled stress-test for the already disrupted liberal-representative, democracies. The challenges cluster around three democratic disfigurations: technocracy, populism, and plebiscitarianism—each have the potential to contribute to democratic decay. Still, they can also trigger pushback against illiberalism mobilizing citizens in defense of democracy, toward democratic resilience. This article looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic affects democratic decay and democratic resilience in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). It finds varied responses to the COVID-19 crisis by the CEE populist leaders and identifies two patterns: the rise of autocracy and democratic resilience. First, in Hungary and Poland, the populist leaders instrumentalized the state of emergency to increase executive aggrandizement. Second, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, democracy proved resilient. The COVID-19 pandemic alone is not fostering the rise of authoritarianism. However, it does accentuate existing democratic disfigurations.

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Shobita Parthasarathy

Abstract

COVID-19 has shown the world that public policies tend to benefit the most privileged among us, and innovation policy is no exception. While the US government's approach to innovation—research funding and patent policies and programs that value scientists’ and private sector freedoms—has been copied around the world due to its apparent success, I argue that it has hurt poor and marginalized communities. It has limited our understanding of health disparities and how to address them, and hampered access to essential technologies due to both lack of coordination and high cost. Fair and equal treatment of vulnerable citizens requires sensitive and dedicated policies that attend explicitly to the fact that the benefits of innovation do not simply trickle down.

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Latin America and COVID-19

Political Rights and Presidential Leadership to the Test

Brigitte Weiffen

Abstract

Latin America was hit by COVID-19 in a moment of (socio-)economic distress and political unrest. This essay reflects on the immediate repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis for democracy in the region. It expounds how responding to the pandemic put to the test the still consolidating democracies with their long-standing defects in the areas of political and civil rights and horizontal accountability. In the course of coping with the crisis, it is precisely in these problem areas that additional risks for democracy have arisen due to infringements of political rights and the performance of presidents. Regarding the latter, the ambiguities of presidential leadership become particularly evident when comparing pragmatic and populist responses to the crisis.

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Asma Abbas

Abstract

That the present moment ties multiple crises together—not least because each is a future of pasts that wound(ed) through each other—must be factored into our intercessions and visions. If every crisis is also a call to order, then what order, old or new, does the pandemic call us to? Its literality provokes us to keep both the pan and the demos in sight, just as they are being extinguished through borders, disease, poverty, insecurity, hatred, and disposability in the global postcolony. We are asked to remember that capital and colony are inseparable, that the nation-state is too suspicious a source of comfort, that the eroding claims of citizenship across the postcolonial and post-democratic fascist failed states are instructive and prophetic, and that the assumptions of place and movement in our frames of the democratic political need revisiting.

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David Owen

Abstract

This paper considers the implications of COVID for open borders. It notes that while COVID concerns do not directly challenge arguments for open borders, the pandemic has revealed two more general phenomena that are salient for such arguments. The first concerns the increasing unmooring of legal borders from physical spaces and the interaction of surveillance and identification technologies with this process. The second addresses the issue of interdependency and the potentially negative implications of open borders if not underpinned by a global basic structure.

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Louise Haagh

Abstract

This article argues that the COVID-19 crisis has brought to light the importance of state democratic capacities linked with humanist governance. This requires securing individuals’ silent freedoms as embedded in the way “developmental” institutions that constitute social relations and well-being are governed. I argue health and well-being inequalities brought out by the crisis are but a manifestation of the way, in the context of the competition paradigm in global governance, states have become relatedly more punitive and dis-embedded from society. The answer lies in providing a more explicit defence of the features of a human development democratic state. An implication is to move democratic theory beyond the concern with redistributive and participatory features of democracy to consider foundational institutional properties of democratic deepening and freedom in society.

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Barbara Prainsack

Abstract

This short article discusses how the COVID-19 crisis has affected solidarity. It starts by defining solidarity in such a way that it can be distinguished from other types of support and pro-social practice, and by arguing that solidarity can manifest itself at three different levels: at the inter-personal level, the group level, or at the level of legal and contractual norms. Drawing upon findings from two ongoing studies on personal and societal effects of the COVID-19 crisis, I then go on to argue that, while forms of inter-personal solidarity have been shifting even during the first weeks and months of the crisis, the importance of institutionalized solidarity is becoming increasingly apparent. The most resilient societies in times of COVID-19 have not been those with the best medical technology or the strictest pandemic containment measures, but those with good public infrastructures and other solidaristic institutions.

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Peter Levine

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic raises questions about the future of democracy and civil society. Some recent predictions seem to use the suffering to score points in ongoing political arguments. As a better example of how to describe the future during a crisis, I cite the prophetic voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. King does not merely predict: he calls for action, joins the action, and makes himself responsible for its success or failure. With these cautions about prediction in mind, I venture two that may guide immediate responses. First, communities may erect or strengthen unjustifiable barriers to outsiders, because boundaries enhance collective action. Second, although the pandemic may not directly change civic behavior, an economic recession will bankrupt some organizations through which people engage.