Countries under populist domination like Brazil and Mexico suffer the most from the pandemic – 04/26/2021 – Yascha Mounk

The pandemic has no room for simple narratives.

Most of the predictions made a year ago have turned out to be wrong. Democracies have not consistently fared better than dictatorships. And the state has not been more efficient than the global economy in dealing with the twists and turns caused by the pandemic.

But a simple traced contrast can be okay after all.

In the early months of the pandemic, many observers argued that countries led by populist leaders who did not trust science and deny the severity of the pandemic would suffer worse outcomes. Perhaps, they speculated, it has even delayed or reversed the seemingly inexorable rise of populist leaders over the past decade.

So some countries ruled by moderate politicians, like France and Germany, struggled, while some of the countries ruled by authoritarian populists, like Poland and Hungary, seemed to be doing surprisingly well. The idea that populist leaders would fare particularly badly turned out to be another of the widely accepted theories that did not survive the virus blaze.

Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. The longer the pandemic has lasted, the better the quality of governance. If we look at the world today, it is painfully clear that countries ruled by populists have paid a particularly high price in terms of economic damage, number of Covid cases and mortality.

Under the erratic leadership of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil has become one of the hardest-hit nations in the world. Today, the country records thousands of deaths from Covid almost every day. Hospitals across the country remain absolutely overwhelmed. In São Paulo, authorities recently announced their intention to open a “vertical cemetery” to account for all surplus bodies.

Further north, Mexico is rapidly collapsing under similar pressure. Equally irresponsible has been the treatment of the pandemic by Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The national catastrophe is now fully exposed, finally. In recent months, Mexico has recorded 300,000 more deaths than average, and overcrowded hospitals across the country are rejecting patients who could easily be saved if they could access medical care.

The triumvirate of great democracies overthrown by populist leaders is completed by the country most seriously affected by the pandemic in the world: India of Narendra Modi. Although the majority of the population remains without access to testing for the virus, hundreds of thousands of Indians are now diagnosed with the disease daily. The number of cases has quintupled in less than a month and the government does not yet have a coherent plan to fight the pandemic.

Evidence of the cost of populism in terms of the pandemic is also increasing elsewhere. Bolivia, Ecuador and the Philippines are also among the most affected countries in the world. And in the United States, Donald Trump’s transition to Joe Biden has shown how much a competent government can do to improve the situation, even when it comes to power at an early stage of the problem.

Those of us who have been horrified by the rise of populism over the past decade must interpret this reality as a tragic confirmation of our worst fears. Clearly it really does make a big difference, yes, for the welfare of the public, whether politicians care about their citizens, whether they believe in science, and whether or not they are limited by checks and balances. who can control them when they go out. track.

The price of populism has turned out to be even more deadly than we could have imagined before this terrible pandemic spread across the world.

Clara Allain

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