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Populist Countries—Like The U.S.—Had More Excess Covid Deaths In 2020, Study Finds – Forbes

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Nations run by populist governments recorded an average rate of excess coronavirus deaths twice as high as countries with non-populist governments in 2020, according to a recent study, which illustrates that populists are “the worst crisis manager in the Covid-19 pandemic,” one of the paper’s authors said Thursday.
President Donald Trump greets Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro upon his arrival at the West Wing … [+] of the White House on March 19, 2019.
Excess deaths—or the fatalities beyond those expected without the pandemic—were 8% higher in populist countries, according to the peer-reviewed study, which was published in the Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy in November.
For every 100 deaths, an additional 8.2 deaths from coronavirus were recorded in non-populist countries, on average, compared to 17.6 more deaths in populist-led countries.
The study’s authors identified 11 countries as populist-governed—including the U.S., the U.K., Brazil and India—based on the definition that populism splits society into “‘the people” versus “the corrupt elite,” and argues that politics should be determined by the people’s will.
The additional deaths were driven by higher rates of movement from place to place in populist countries, which they observed using Google mobility data.
The study’s authors also argued that populist governments were less likely to implement long-term pandemic policies and more likely to communicate messaging that downplayed the severity of the pandemic and discredited science, which made people less likely to restrict their movement of their own accord.
”The numbers are clear—populists are the worst crisis managers in the Covid-19 pandemic and responsible for many avoidable deaths in the countries they govern,” Michael Bayerlein, a researcher on populism at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, said in a statement Thursday.
Populism isn’t tied to a specific side of the political spectrum. But a rise of right-wing populists swept the world in the years just before the coronavirus pandemic, with leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson winning power. Last week, a study found populist leaders lost support during the coronavirus pandemic after polling more than half a million people. Public opinion for populist leaders fell because of leaders mishandling the pandemic, a decline in polarizing attitudes and a desire for more stability, according to researchers.
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