Morning Brief: How The Coronavirus Pandemic Threatens Democracy
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fairly difficult
Can democracies withstand a crisis with no end in sight?
How the Pandemic Threatens Democracy

Here is today's Foreign Policy brief: Democracy during the pandemic is under the microscope, U.S. military acknowledges civilian deaths, and China's oil imports increase.

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How The Pandemic Is Disrupting Democracies

Citizens of the countries most badly affected by the coronavirus, and facing the most severe public health measures, have at least been able to take comfort in the fact they freely chose their leaders. As the pandemic expands toward summer, however, its worrisome effects on democracy are coming into focus.

Hungary already failed a democratic test at the outset of the pandemic, enacting laws that stifle free speech and postpone any future elections—effectively keeping Prime Minister Viktor Orban in power indefinitely. This week, the democracy watchdog Freedom House demoted Hungary from a fully-fledged democracy to the level of "hybrid regime."

Poland's ruling Law and Justice party came close to forcing through electoral rule changes that could have opened the door to ballot tampering. The move was only stopped at the last minute when the election it would have affected was postponed.

Less surprising are the leaders who have used the pandemic as a PR opportunity: The prime ministers of both Ireland and Israel found themselves almost out of office after their parties lost key parliamentary seats in elections held just before the coronavirus struck. The crisis has allowed them to recast themselves as serious men in serious times: Both are expected to enter into government (albeit in coalitions) in the next few weeks.

What about the United States? Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden doesn't think the United States is immune from the trend and thinks U.S. President Donald Trump will find a way to delay voting in November. "Mark my words: I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale…
Colm Quinn
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