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Photo: “A girl surrounded by male attention,” by Michał Siergiejevicz licensed under (CC BY 2.0)

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed an enormous challenge to the ability of political systems to cope with the human and economic disruption caused by the virus. Furthermore, it has generated competitive dynamics in the international arena, notably between democracies and autocracies. Since the pandemic’s early days, the latter appeared to be better placed to provide a more efficient response than democratic systems, thanks to their fast decision-making and capability to impose restrictions on citizens’ freedoms, including quarantine measures necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19.

But is that really the case? How did authoritarian regimes respond to the pandemic in different regions of the world? What impact did their response have on citizens’ lives and in the international arena? And how did COVID-19 shape authoritarian politics?

This Dossier was edited and published by the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale in collaboration with the Illiberalism Studies Program.