Democracy after coronavirus: Five challenges for the 2020s

Perpignan, 28 June 2020, Election Municipales 2020, 2nd Tour. Election opposing Louis Aliot, Rassemblement National candidate and poll favourite, to Jean-Marc Pujol, outgoing mayor, Les Républicains and supported by a Republican Front.Vote of Jean-Marc Pujol, outgoing mayor and in unfavorable ballooning according to the current polls.Perpignan, 28 juin 2020, Election Municipales 2020, 2nd Tour. Election opposant Louis Aliot, candidat Rassemblement National et favori des sondages à Jean-Marc Pujol, maire sortant, Les Républicains et soutenu par un Front Républicain.Vote de Jean-Marc Pujol, maire sortant et en ballotage défavorable selon les sondages en cours.NO USE FRANCE

Executive Summary

2020 will forever be the year of coronavirus, a cataclysmic event in slow motion that has disrupted people’s lives and disseminated a sense of uncertainty and vulnerability comparable only to times of war.

Pressed by the fast pace of infections while fearing massively disruptive economic impact, political leaders around the world faced the challenge of acting quickly in a fog of scientific uncertainty, leading them to impose (or not impose) lockdown measures limiting personal freedom and democratic participation.

The democratic model has long been under stress, with the rise of homegrown populist and nationalist movements, and external geopolitical threats from resilient authoritarian actors. But COVID-19 created a new kind of stress test, bringing into question globalization, democratic decisionmaking, the reliability of science and information, and ultimately the ability of the democratic model to cope with devastating events.

In this regard, this paper argues that there are five main challenges for democracies after coronavirus: protecting the safety and integrity of elections, finding the right place for expertise, coping with resurgent populism and nationalism, countering homegrown and foreign disinformation, and defending the democratic model. After delineating these challenges, it offers policy recommendations for democratic resilience in the 2020s.