Why Populists Love the Pandemic

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In the absence of large gatherings or campaign rallies, political debate has migrated completely to the media, which is devoting its full attention to the disease. This is happening for pragmatic reasons — COVID-19 coverage is what the reading and viewing public currently demands — but also for ethical reasons: providing accurate information about the coronavirus is an essential service.

Still, wall-to-wall coverage of the pandemic leaves no attention to spare for political opposition parties and movements. Hence, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge US President Donald Trump in November's election, has essentially disappeared overnight from public view.

Americans are instead furnished with daily, live coverage of Trump's press conferences cum political rallies, in which he trots out government experts who somehow must try to correct his lies and misinformation about the pandemic while standing right next to him.

Similarly, in Israel, Benny Gantz, the leading opposition politician, has decided to join a new government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, citing the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic.

In Central and Eastern Europe, populist governments are exploiting the suspension of normal life to implement long-held plans. With the international media focused completely on the pandemic, few people will notice what is happening in Hungary or Poland.

In Central and Eastern Europe, populist governments are exploiting the suspension of normal life to implement long-held plans.

Reporting on Poland's...

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