Coronavirus is being used as an excuse for authoritarian governments to weaken democracy. While recent actions of these ” authoritarians” might seem extreme, they are largely legal. For instance, Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, managed the power to proceed by ruling through decrees. He even can apply punishments to journalists if he understands that there is no accuracy in his reports. Besides, the government can also penalize citizens in case they disobey the rules of quarantine.
If this was no longer enough, elections and referendums also do not happen while measures are in place. The Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte managed to secure for themselves special powers in this period of crisis. He was already known to pursue his opponents. In addition, he made it clear that he already killed crime suspects while he ruled the city of Davao.
Understand how authoritarian governments are dealing with COVID-19
Some people criticized the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the way he sought to contain the advancement of the pandemic. He approved that the government tracks infected patients with an electronic tool used until then by the government to combat terrorism. Besides, Russian rulers have used a facial recognition tool to prevent people from disobeying social isolation rules.
Authoritarianism emerged in the region contained between South Korea and Western Europe. This is because the president is using technologies that accompany the population to verify where people infected by coronavirus are. In addition, they can investigate whether people are obeying quarantine rules.
We can observe this authoritarian behavior of rulers in countries with stronger democratic institutions. The United States is a great example since several politicians who ruled the country exercised great power during crises. It is worth remembering the Patriotic Act that happened after the September 11 attack in the year 2001.
Problems from the future
The truth is that once the power leaves the hand of the people, it will be difficult to revert when the crisis passes. It is possible that there is a change in laws on criminal detention of countries in order to ensure obedience to isolation rules. After all, there are already countries that have given special powers to the police to ensure that the measures are fulfilled. Examples of them are the United Kingdom and France.
At some point, this crisis will end and citizens around the world will be free to leave their homes. But there is fear that the government takes advantage of these changes to obtain political gains after this crisis passes.
It is necessary to pay attention to the fact that the world we leave behind is very different from the one we are knowing now. Even though many people have not realized this yet, you can be sure that the rulers are already well aware. They are demonstrating this with their coronavirus excuses.