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Democracy in times of the pandemic: explaining the variation of COVID-19 policies across European democracies


Engler, Sarah; Brunner, Palmo; Loviat, Romane; Abou-Chadi, Tarik; Leemann, Lucas; Glaser, Andreas; Kübler, Daniel (2021). Democracy in times of the pandemic: explaining the variation of COVID-19 policies across European democracies. West European Politics, 44(5-6):1077-1102.

Abstract

In fighting the spread of COVID-19, the drastic measures undertaken by governments worldwide demonstrate a trade-off between public health and fundamental democratic principles. Yet this behaviour is not consistent across democracies, which motivates this paper to examine why some democracies were willing to constrain individual freedoms and concentrate power more than others during the pandemic’s first wave. Creating two indices to measure the degree to which COVID-19 policies interfere with these democratic principles in 34 European countries, the analyses show that the large variation cannot be solely explained by pandemic-related factors. It is argued that the strong protection of democratic principles already established in ‘normal’ times makes governments more reluctant to opt for restrictive policies. By highlighting how differences in policy responses are attributed to provisions guaranteeing individual liberties, this paper contributes to a better understanding of how democracies handle the democratic dilemma in times of crises.

Abstract

In fighting the spread of COVID-19, the drastic measures undertaken by governments worldwide demonstrate a trade-off between public health and fundamental democratic principles. Yet this behaviour is not consistent across democracies, which motivates this paper to examine why some democracies were willing to constrain individual freedoms and concentrate power more than others during the pandemic’s first wave. Creating two indices to measure the degree to which COVID-19 policies interfere with these democratic principles in 34 European countries, the analyses show that the large variation cannot be solely explained by pandemic-related factors. It is argued that the strong protection of democratic principles already established in ‘normal’ times makes governments more reluctant to opt for restrictive policies. By highlighting how differences in policy responses are attributed to provisions guaranteeing individual liberties, this paper contributes to a better understanding of how democracies handle the democratic dilemma in times of crises.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
02 Faculty of Law > Bereich Dekan: Fachgr. & Lehrstühle > Constitutional, Administrative and International Law
02 Faculty of Law > Centre for Democracy Studies Aarau (C2D)
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
340 Law
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Political Science and International Relations
Uncontrolled Keywords:political science and international relations COVID-19, public health policies, democracy, fundamental rights, state of emergency, public health crisis
Language:English
Date:July 2021
Deposited On:06 Apr 2021 11:29
Last Modified:26 Mar 2024 02:35
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0140-2382
Additional Information:weiss nicht von den Autoren wurde eine OA-Gebühr bezahlt
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2021.1900669
Official URL:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01402382.2021.1900669?src=&
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)