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Ringe, Nils, and Lucio Rennó. “Populists and the Pandemic: How Populists Around the World Responded to COVID-19.” (2023): 321.


Populists and the Pandemic examines the responses of populist political actors and parties in 22 countries around the globe to the COVID-19 pandemic, in terms of their attitudes, rhetoric, mobilization repertoires, and policy proposals.

The responses of some populist leaders have received much public attention, as they denied the severity of the public health crisis, denigrated experts and data, looked for scapegoats, encouraged protests, questioned the legitimacy of liberal institutions, spread false information, and fueled conspiracies. But how widespread are those particular reactions? How much variation is there? What explains the variation that does exist? This volume considers these questions through critical analysis of countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa, by leading experts with deep knowledge of their respective cases. Some chapters focus on populist parties, others on charismatic populist leaders. Some countries examined are democracies, others autocracies. Some populists are left wing, others right wing. Some populists are in government, others in opposition. This variation allows for a panoramic consideration of factors that systematically influence or mediate populist responses to the pandemic. The book thus makes a unique contribution to our understanding of the intersection between two of the most pressing social and political challenges of our time.

The book will be of interest to all those researching populism, extremism, and political parties and those more broadly interested in political science, public policy, sociology, communications, and economics.

Table of Contents

  1. Populists and the Pandemic: How Populists Around the World Responded to Covid-19
  2. The United States: Trump, Populism, and the Pandemic
  3. Mexico: A Politically Effective Populist Pandemic Response
  4. Brazil: “We Are All Going To Die One Day”
  5. Argentina: Peronism and Inclusionary Populist Adaptation to the Pandemic
  6. The United Kingdom: The Pandemic and the Tale of Two Populist Parties
  7. Spain: Different Populist Responses with Similar (and Limited) Outcomes
  8. Italy: The Diverging Strategies of the Populist Radical Right During the Pandemic
  9. Poland: When Populists Must Manage Crisis Instead of Performing It
  10. Hungary: Creeping Authoritarianism in the Name of Pandemic Response
  11. Turkey: Governing the Unpredictable Through Market Imperative
  12. Indonesia: From the Pandemic Crisis to Democratic Decline
  13. India: The Good, the Bad, and the Deadly Consequences of India’s Pandemic Response
  14. The Philippines: Penal Populism and Pandemic Response
  15. Russia: Muddling Through Populism and the Pandemic
  16. Nicaragua: Populist Performance and Authoritarian Practice During Covid-19
  17. Venezuela: A Populist Legacy and Authoritarian Response
  18. Tanzania: Narrating the Eradication of Covid-19
  19. South Africa: From Populist Inertia to Insurrection
  20. France: Balancing Respectability and Radicalization in a Pandemic
  21. Germany: The Alternative for Germany in the Covid-19 Pandemic
  22. Belgium: Against the Government and its Parties, (Not So Much) with the People
  23. The Netherlands: Divergent Paths for the Populist Radical Right
  24. Conclusion

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.