Title of the panel:
Democracy in the post-COVID world
Democracy Challenged: Freedom and equality in the post-COVID world
Democracy; liberty; inclusiveness; participation; governance COVID-19.
Short description of the panel:
The panel aims to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on democracy and the ways to overcome the difficulties that are emerging.
Although the trend for democratic recession had already begun, the pandemic has raised issues that may interfere with democratic values and procedures, notably individual freedom and equal opportunity.
To cope with the crisis, democracies are resorting to various levels of alert, sometimes even going into a state of emergency, thus limiting citizens’ rights. From restrictions on free movement to the enforcement of hygiene measures and the compulsory use of contact tracing tools, one of the major pillars of liberal democracy – liberty – has been challenged by the need for a swift and efficient response to the crisis.
Moreover, the impact has often been asymmetric and raised issues of fairness and inclusion in terms of some measures’ efficacy. Confinement has been made viable by a massive change to working from home, or teleworking, while schools and universities have switched to distance learning delivery. This demands a sophisticated technological environment, from equipment to internet connections, which has not been equally available to everyone. There may also have been major differences in access to healthcare and commodities in general. The follow-up to the pandemic is turning into another major economic crisis, which will strike the poorer the more. States may therefore be balancing citizens’ health against economic survival.
Accountability issues also require discussion, since the quality of democratic debate and deliberation may have dipped in the interests of speedy decisions and, ultimately to avoid public uproar and turmoil. Moreover, participation and even electoral processes have been undermined by the circumstances of the pandemic.
The panel therefore aims to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on liberal democracy and to debate whether it has been a major turning point, reinforcing the authoritarian trend.
Some of the topics that will be discussed in the panel:
- Freedom vs. authority in a time of crisis
- Democracies undergoing crises: a guide to good practice
- Case studies and comparative case studies
- Democracy and schools: distance learning’s pedagogical efficiency and inclusiveness
- Health access and democracy
- Political participation under crisis
- Deliberation: the quality of public debate and decision-making
- National vs international governance: competing or collaborating?
- Democracies and technological surveillance.
- Cláudia Toriz Ramos, Ph.D., Universidade Fernando Pessoa, Portugal
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