Worth the Sacrifice? Illiberal and Authoritarian Practices during Covid-19

27 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2020

See all articles by Seraphine F. Maerz

Seraphine F. Maerz

University of Gothenburg

Anna Lührmann

University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science

Jean Lachapelle

University of Michigan

Amanda B. Edgell

University of Gothenburg

Date Written: September 2020

Abstract

Excessive use of emergency powers and limitations of media freedoms have raised concerns that Covid-19 is infecting democracy itself. How do government responses to Covid-19 violate democratic standards? How do such violations relate to the countries’ success in limiting the Covid-19 death tolls? We propose a novel conceptualization of which government responses to Covid-19 qualify as a violation of democratic standards and measure such violations using a regularly updated dataset covering 143 countries from March 2020 onward. Our data track seven types of violations of democratic standards for emergency measures during the Covid-19 pandemic: discriminatory measures, derogation of non-derogable rights, abusive enforcement, no time limit on emergency measures, disproportionate limitations on the role of the legislature, official disinformation campaigns, and restrictions on media freedoms. In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of the extent to which governments have violated democratic standards in their response to Covid-19. Using a regression analysis, we find no relationship between violations of democratic standards for emergency measures and Covid-19 death rates. Thus, violations of democratic standards during the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be justified by the achievement of better public health outcomes. Rather, such crisis driven violations need to be carefully observed as they could signal autocratization.

Suggested Citation

Maerz, Seraphine F. and Lührmann, Anna and Lachapelle, Jean and Edgell, Amanda B., Worth the Sacrifice? Illiberal and Authoritarian Practices during Covid-19 (September 2020). V-Dem Working Paper 110, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3701720 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3701720

Seraphine F. Maerz (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30
Göteborg, 405 30
Sweden

Anna Lührmann

University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Göteborg, S-405 30
Sweden

Jean Lachapelle

University of Michigan ( email )

500 Church Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48019
United States

Amanda B. Edgell

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30
Göteborg, 405 30
Sweden

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
363
Abstract Views
1,994
rank
102,890
PlumX Metrics