Andrea Cassani https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5523-0327 Angelo Panaro Adam Szymański Łukasz Zamęcki


We investigate the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis on the quality and survival of democracy in a country. We start from the idea that such crises entail a risk of democratic backsliding, as governments could exploit the state of emergency to concentrate power in their own hands and derogate to democratic rules beyond the realm and past the duration of the emergency. We reconsider this argument and contend that the pandemic’s backsliding effect, if any, depends on the prior quality and consolidation of democratic institutions, the robustness of the state of emergency regulation, and the government’s loyalty to democracy. We analyse Poland and Italy, which were both at risk of ‘pandemic backsliding’ even though for different reasons. While democracy in Italy has proved resilient, we find that backsliding in Poland resulted from a combination of malleable democratic institutions weakened by years of pre-pandemic executive aggrandizement and an authoritarian-leaning government willing to exploit the crisis.


Research Articles