Muntaha Syedah Qadri
For the past year and a half, the pandemic caused chaos to occur. The pandemic invoked a serious level of stress on everyone around the world. It has caused the good and bad to occur in not only people’s lives but also in the global political system. In some ways, the pandemic showed the true front of the system, most particularly, Populism. It showed what the political system is capable of and what the true meaning of Populism is. Populism is a stance that most countries around the world have experienced, most particularly with their global leaders. Populism’s main idea is to deal with “the people ”.
Looking closely at the countries around the world, we observe global leaders like Johnson, Salvini, Trump. Erdoğan, Kaczyński, Le Pen. Modi, Orbán, Putin (Balfour 2020). The leaders can be labeled as Populists (Balfour 2020). Surprisingly, these leaders barely survived the pandemic. Did they have unforgettable moments that made the history books in both a positive and negative way? Yes, of course. The leaders incited drama and chaos that changed the way people look at certain political situations (Balfour 2020). Modern-day populists during the weakened governments around the globe. This is because most of them did not experience anything like the pandemic or expect it to even occur in the whole world, or let alone in their own country. Poor performance was conducted during these times, but it did not completely deplete the countries from any populism aspects (Balfour 2020).
Populists were said to come into power because of claimed external crisises. The external crisis mostly included financial situations that end up impacting a certain region. Because of the pandemic, many crises had an impact. The majority of the crises during the pandemic were social and financial (Balfour 2020). This external crisis gave the populists leverage. These crises caused these populists to gain more ideas on creating policies along with creating structuralized plans that help support the people. Populism survived the pandemic mainly because of the right-wing. It is because of the move in the ideology that is shifting to the right along with the political aspects.
Populists, like Trump, in the very beginning had a hard time coping with the whole idea of Covid-19 (Spilimbergo 2021). They had disbelief. This is because they had a distrust in science, which had the whole pandemic a lie until it hit the country hard (Mounk 2021). They were stating statements like, “the virus is no worse than a simple cold or flu”. The denial of believing in the existence of pandemics caused chaos resulting in poor outcomes. In some cases, populist countries like Poland and Hungary did shockingly well during the pandemic and were able to control the people (Mounk 2021). As time goes on during the pandemic, the whole quality of the government kind of downgrades. This is because populism was ruling and caused certain aspects like the economy to be damaged as well as the mortality rate to change frequently.
Populist leaders all around the world were mainly seen as people pointing out the problems. If the pandemic caused a high rate of unemployment, they would point it out. They would identify the problem rather than solving and creating a solution for it (Spilimbergo 2021). While the populist brought up some ideas of creating certain policies, but at the end of the day, the actions spoke louder than the words. Along with that idea, trust is a major element being used. The element is being associated with the pandemic to implement certain decisions, that allows the truth to come out. If there is no trust and no solution created, there is no way the populist would be able to survive the pandemic (Spilimbergo 2021).
As time goes on, the use of factual evidence of the countries and the situations that have taken place during the pandemic overall help determine whether if the populists survived the pandemic. This is because there are no clear distinguished methods to determine if they did survive the pandemic. From the perspective of the populist, it changes the appearance of the populist. This is because if a person believes there is no evidence of whether the populist mishandled the pandemic, it changes the way the populist is seen (Spilimbergo 2021). Some people believed that the populist did their best and appropriately conducted the right solutions in handling a global-wide pandemic.
Overall, during the pandemic, populist was seen right through. The media was involved in exposing the populists and opening any hidden facts (Spilimbergo 2021). The limitations of the populists were tested as well as their leadership skills (trust, responsibility, morals, etc.). These added up and showed “the people” whether they were fit for the position as well as if they would end up surviving the pandemic. Some people lost their presidency or leadership role during the pandemic like Trump (because of re-election loss), fewer people follow the leader of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, etc., but these populists end up the way they did because of not handling the situation currently. The populists survived to blame others for not following their beliefs or strategies. The strategies implemented could not end up working for every single person in the country (Balfour 2020).