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Democracy and Authoritarianism: Responses to and Implications of the Pandemic

Thursday 24 September 2020
Lipsius 019 and online. Numbers for Lipsius 019 are limited – a maximum of 45 audience members will be permitted.
Lipsius 0.19

Roundtable Series: Reflections on a Pandemic

In the second of our pandemic-related panels, academics from the MA International Relations programme will set out observations and conclusions on the response to the pandemic from both democratic and authoritarian governments and examine the response of citizens and what this means for future state-society relations.

Prof Andre Gerrits - It’s the Leader, Stupid! Why Democracy or Authoritarianism has Little Impact on Corona – and Vice Versa’

Professor Gerrits, historian, is Professor of International Studies and Chair of the Urban Studies programme at Leiden University.

What makes the difference in Corona-times? There are all kinds of reasons why some people suffer more under the current pandemic than others do: income, place of residence, profession, housing, etc. Intuitively, the nature of the political regime should be another variable, but it isn’t. Why is it that the democracy-authoritarianism difference has so little impact on how nations fight Corona? And why does Corona have so few consequences for the nature of political regimes?

Dr Vineet Thakur - A Viral Democracy

Dr Thakur is University Lecturer at Leiden University.

From December 2019, a battle for the democratic soul of India was being waged in a small locality called Shaheen Bagh in Delhi. For over 100 days, a peaceful sit-in protest, led by Muslim women, in response to a controversial citizenship law which could potentially be used to deprive Muslims of the country’s citizenship, became the symbol of democratic resistance to the creeping fascism in the country. In the end, the protest site had to be vacated after the pandemic hit Delhi. Was this democracy’s last stand? In this intervention, I will look at the ramifications of the pandemic for the world's largest democracy. A virus afflicts Indian democracy, and it may not be corona.

Dr Eske van Gils – The Corona Virus and Authoritarian Opportunism

Dr van Gils is Assistant Professor at the Institute for History, Leiden University

While the corona virus may not distinguish between regime type, its presence leads to key questions about the relationship between state and citizens, to which different regimes will find different answers. For instance, what is the government’s responsibility towards its citizens? What degree of transparency and openness is needed in reporting on the virus? How do we treat critical citizens? What means can be used to enforce a lockdown? What is an acceptable price to pay for stability?

This intervention will compare authoritarian responses to the corona virus in the Eurasian region, from initial denial in Tajikistan, to armed enforcement of the lockdown in Uzbekistan, and ‘coronavirus prisoners’ in Azerbaijan; and assess the consequences this has for citizens.

For in-person tickets, apply here (45 pers. max)

In person tickets

For online participation, apply here

Password: Survival20Leiden

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