The Paradox of Prevention: Authoritarian Past and Liberal Democracy in Times of Crisis

18 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2020 Last revised: 10 Aug 2020

See all articles by Philipp Trein

Philipp Trein

University of Geneva - Department of Political Science and International Relations; University of Lausanne, IEPHI

Date Written: June 29, 2020

Abstract

In this paper, I analyze the link between democracy and lock-down policies during times of crisis. In using multilevel regression models, I show that countries with a past of authoritarian government are more likely to impose stringent restrictions on citizens' liberties compared to countries with a democratic legacy during the COVID-19 pandemic. I explain this finding with a transference of policy practices over time. Furthermore, I compare the development of democracy before and after the "Spanish Flu'' of 1918-1920, in using interrupted time series models. My findings suggest that it is unlikely that this historic pandemic contributed significantly to the decline of democracy. The results of this research indicate that past rather than present regime forms explains lockdown stringency. In addition, anti-pandemic policies do not seem to cause a decline of democracy but rather reinforce pre-existing trends in regime development.

Keywords: Democracy, Lockdown, Pandemic, Authoritarian Regime, Public Policy

JEL Classification: H41, I18

Suggested Citation

Trein, Philipp, The Paradox of Prevention: Authoritarian Past and Liberal Democracy in Times of Crisis (June 29, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3625523 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3625523

Philipp Trein (Contact Author)

University of Geneva - Department of Political Science and International Relations ( email )

40 boulevard du Pont d'Arve
Genève 4, CH-1211
Switzerland

University of Lausanne, IEPHI ( email )

Quartier Chambronne
Lausanne, Vaud CH-1015
Switzerland

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