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Democratic systems in fight against Covid-19: advantages and disadvantages

Novruzali Yusubzada




The novel coronavirus which had spread from Wuhan –the capital city of Hubei province in PRC- to all over the world, has influenced the world politics, economy and sociology seriously and its influences are continuing still. The wide and fast spread of that virus has reawakened 2 questions debated for years: 1) Which system of government is more efficient in all cases? 2) Which one is more important; civil liberties or national security? Today, people have started to debate and find answers to these 2 unanswered questions controversially.

However, considering the fact that the world has been exposed to globalization trend intensively for a certain time; we should be aware we cannot find a concrete and exact answer to questions as black and white. Both democracy and autocracy - which have become the focus of longstanding discussions for centuries- are searching for new ways to overcome the global pandemic. After the fall of socialism; the capitalist, global and free-market economy has spread rapidly around the world and this brings with democratic values as well. Democracy is accepted as the best form of government until the better form is found. Therefore, it is inevitable that it is occasionally tested with global catastrophes. Yet, when we look at government forms more broadly, we realize that sometimes a system is not completely efficient or completely inefficient. To evaluate the efficiency of systems we have to consider certain answers of the following questions: What is the level of public acclaim of the system in the country? What is the social ideology of the public of that country? Which behaviours would be more appropriate according to current circımstances? In fact, during coronavirus pandemic duration, countries have realised the importance of the social state model and drawbacks of globalization and started to discuss which type of democracy would be more efficient in itself.

In this paper, as wontedly, the issue will be evaluated in the perception of the strongest and best system which is democracy. To put a finer point on it, it this paper the level of success of democratic systems to fight against global pandemics will be discussed.



It is observed that there are various methods to fight against pandemic according as there are various types of democracy. In this paper, we first address the general advantages of democracy, later examine regional and territorial achievements towards pandemic.  In democratic systems, the people in charge have announced the infection rate and way of preventions truthfully right after the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. The sense of obligation which is rooted in democracy enables the public to learn the real infection and death rates through media and government itself.

Examining the countries dealing with coronavirus, it is also observed that there may be strict differences between federal governments and republics. The fact that in a federal democratic system, each state has a right to administer itself to a certain extent makes possible to prevent the spread in these states at the least.

The most successful aspect of democracy may be deemed to the most unfortunate aspect of it. We refer here to freedom of thought! According to freedom of thought, every person has the right to express their opinion and by doing so he involves in the decision-making process. It causes difficulty to make a new decision to some extent. Despite such difficulty, if it is still possible to decide then freedom of thought may be regarded as a success. Yet, if freedom of thought interferes and prevents the decision-making process then it is a disadvantage. Other advantages of democracy are an opportunity to make new decisions all together thanks to strengthening cooperation and the substantial preservation of fundamental rights and freedoms of people in democratic countries.  

From his or her birth, the individual's right to life is protected as an essential human right. This idea exists not only in constitutions but also in ratio behind the administration of democratic countries which means more responsibility for people in charge.

In the following part, we will examine the achievements of some democratic countries which have a different approach to combat the pandemic from each other and the effects of their societies to democracy.

The United States, Germany –  It may be regarded as affirmative that people in these two federal countries have understood social isolation. Moreover, these countries have tried to preserve the welfare of society and resolve the loss of business by announcing huge stimulus packages. The facts that Merkel has made the decision to self-quarantine and Trump has said the USA should focus on finding vaccine rather than declaring a curfew can be evaluated as preferences of democracy.

Spain, Italy- In both countries the death rate has been continuing to increase sharply. The reasons may be accepted as the mentality and lifestyle of societies rather than excessive freedom due to democracy. The individualism rooted in democracy has become inescapable when we consider that South European countries are open to tourism and their people are companionably accompanied by the unawareness of people about the seriousness of coronavirus and this results.

South Korea– Although in this country the pandemic has spread rapidly, it can be said that South Koreas appears to bring the virus under control. Korean society having the ability for empathy has isolated themselves successfully and behaved correctly. Yet, this success cannot be dedicated to democracy as a whole because it is more related to monotonous lifestyle o and Confucian mentality of society. However,  the presence of transparent-open government in this period is the success of democracy.

The United Kingdom and ScandinaviaCountries– These countries had tried to implement a different approach to fight against the pandemic, but, it could not be efficient enough. The UK government have brought forward a strategy includes the replacement of very old people to highlands and in the remaining younger population building up some sort of herd immunity to the virus. Skandinavia countries let their people decide their attitudes without introducing any ban.

İsrael–Differently from all other countries, İsrael was able to unite the politicians in one government because of coronavirus though they can never unite in normal circumstances. To prevent the rise of nationalism, people of Arabic origin have started to be represented in parliament.

All precautions have taken in democratic countries are related to multi-nationality, conservativeness and the public behaviours of countries.  The main reason for differences in democratic countries is the geographical determinism which also influences the implementation of democracy in various states. As Ibni Haldun states, geography affects everything such as making decisions more than any systems.




In addition to the advantages mentioned above, many of the effects of the pandemic have shown several disadvantages of democracies or their weaknesses compared to autocracies. As it is mentioned before, in a democracy, there is always a certain amount of choice and freedom in decision-making and top-down implementation, which can lead to gaps in the hierarchical system and, consequently, inefficiency and lack of follow-up. In countries such as Italy, for example, the impossibility of forcing people to stay at home, and even in many European countries, the army taking to the streets against people for their safety can be considered weaknesses of democratic systems. The rise of individualism as the forefront of democratic values has caused people to only understand that they are a part of a society when there are disasters.

In this part, the disadvantages of democracy will be evaluated based on each country and democratic models.

USA, Germany, and Southern Europe- In these countries’ societies are so indifferent to other individuals and the state. The main reasons for this are the misalignment of the nation-state model and excessive individualism.

The Scandinavian Countries– These Countries have left it up to everyone to decide how to deal with the disease to put all the responsibility on the people or to put freedom above security.

Israel- It is trying to delay important decisions of the Ministry of Justice, even if it forms a government consist of different ideologies, this has wounded democratic values.

At the same time, Western democracies, which have been struggling to protect private property for centuries, have been interfering in the private property during global catastrophes. They also fail to justify the level of interference by normal norms. They can be considered one of the negatives of democracy.

The totalitarian Chinese regime remains perhaps the only communist model in the world especially after Cuba's exit from the socialist system. China decided to hierarchically quarantine such a big size of land which corresponds almost the entire Middle European countries land size and prevented the disease despite a large population. The current success of China must make democratic countries reconsider themselves. China indeed did this directly and compulsorily venturing violation of human freedom, but in terms of results, China was able to provide security for more people. Although democracies have blamed China for not warning the World about virus immediately, in today's world, China and Korea are considered to be the first successful two countries in this fight.  They both have in common the Eastern society model and the Confucian mentality.



In general, when we pay attention to pandemics and global crises, it is very difficult to say which system will be successful in the end. It is impossible to decide without seeing how things will go. For instance, although Iran has also totalitarian regime, it is not good at fighting against the virus. It is impossible to understand the situation without looking in a wider perspective.  Without examining the domestic policies of the countries and the behaviour of the population, the efficiency of the health care system separately, it is not easy to answer the question. Individualism has been prevented from coming to the fore in liberal democracies, and that there will be serious crises in capitalist relations, especially in the tourism and service sectors, post-pandemic democracies will suffer more  . In the end, no matter how positive the attitudes of democracy are, the fact that the population always has the right to speak can lead to a possible rapid change of government, a cooling of people's democratic values. In a scenario where things will get worse, some countries may have made significant changes to their foreign policy models, and the discovery of a drug to prevent a pandemic by a non-democratic country could cause a serious systemic shock in democracies. On the other hand, this virus can bring insecurity to the system in some religious countries, showing that analytical thinking will override religious thinking. When all this is considered together, the pandemic will bring with it not only democracy but also some political, economic and social events that will show the gaps in any model of a social institution and will not be prevented. Democratic models can also accelerate the transition from liberal democracy to more social democracy, from parliamentary models to more presidential models.