21st century has witnessed a model change in the political trends which never had been this much synchronized around the globe. The “Alleged” caretakers of the world, notorious elites, and labeled populists gained immense importance in years to come. The 9/11, Recession of 2008, and the exodus crisis of 2015, transmitted fear and created wedges among the people. As a result of these proceedings, seeds of unilateralism and eliciting contempt for bureaucracies, existing democratic systems, and traditional protocols were cultured-the the very features of populism. Thus, the mentioned crisis paved the way for undesired populism.


This planet of ours woefully now has been a place of drifting consequences. The Covid-19, unexplored, and unknown virus, certainly shocked the world by its adventure. The historians and intellectuals once again get divided upon their rational thoughts, as this virus strengthens the existing populists even more. Therefore, the populist group: the ones expecting this political trend to maintain its power in the post-COVID-19 era, spotting similarities in ongoing and former crisis, whereas the other group anticipating populism to be crumbled in the post-COVID-19 world.

At first, we need to acknowledge the idea of populism, its thought process, how a crisis can lead to populism before assessing its fate in the post-COVID-19 world. We have to keep this in mind that terminologies like populist and populism are not yet interpreted well. But these terms possess negative connotations like others-Capitalism & Communism since the Bolshevik Revolution. We have to contemplate however the populist closest definition.

According to Cas Mudde, presented the most reasonable illustration of populism; Populists see their society divided into two groups, “The Pure People & The Corrupt Elite”. The former considers the latter, responsible for all the socio-economic ailments. This grouping could be at national, international, or any other level. Similarly, it also classified from social class to religion to ethnicity. The idea of much relevance to populism given by Prof. Nadia Urbinati of Columbia University refers to populism, “where one section of the society is endangered from the other.

Mainstream politicians know exactly the situation and then the populists use that situation to take advantage of the fright of pure people. But the social demonstration shows us that populist leaders are primarily anti-liberal, disregard science, traditional democracies, protocols, and incline to make false promises and make direct contact with their people.


The populist leaders no surprisingly took advantage of every former series of crises, added fuel to fire, as these crises endanger different aspects of life. For instance, 9/11, one of the major events of topical times, converge the compulsion in westerners against Muslims and stipulated the feelings of populism on mutual sides of Atlantic.

Through this aroused sentiments, the western leaders found the way against Islamic Culture and proposed “Clash of Civilizations”. Uniformly, the 2008 recession held all the related policymakers, economists, and business persons in charge of the crisis. Populists again perceived their mechanism, as the financial insecurities and vexation were on the surge. Regardless, the immigration crisis if not reacted the same as traditional populism, but is stimulated the same purpose-saving jobs for the working class. Consequently, different crises every time give birth to a newer kind of populism.

Does, crisis alone seize the rise of populism? No. Ideally, the global economic and political system is evenly blameworthy. The generalized capitalists of the world reciprocated uneven wealth distribution & menaces to cultural identity are eminent examples of the ailing system. Therefore, it is now oblivious that not only the notorious crisis but the prevailing democratic setup is also responsible for the rise of populism, as they used tools of a system like; public representation and freedom of speech to engage the desired public.


Let now scrutinize, whether the outburst of Covid-19 really opens up the doors for populism or not. Populists like authoritarianism which permits rapid actions and deploying huge resources without any contest. These facets are more likely to be noticed in the post-COVID-19 scenario. China, despite being the genesis of the corona, productively managed this predicament. The ruthless but effective lockdown has been witnessed in the whole of Hubei province-50m of population. Seemingly, food and other essentials were ensured during the quarantine. Contrastingly, the world’s largest democracy, India responded abysmally by depositing the responsibility of virus to the impuissant of the society. As per the world’s reputable newspaper, “The Guardian” confirmed that “120m migrants took to the roads of the country from rural to urban with domestic stuff on their heads and kids on their back”.


According to the adopted stances by democratic-India & authoritarian-China, the steps for populism got even more coherent in the post-COVID-19 world. Besides, chances of ferocity and societal unrest impending amid the crisis, as UN Secretary-General, Anotonio Guetterres predicted. “The probability of the tyrannical political system is surfacing, thus augmenting populist ideology”. The multi-lateral system is undoubtedly plunging due to Coronavirus outburst; populists are eyeing to maneuver unilateralism.


Unsurprisingly, the virus holds the aptitude to affect co-operation among world nations, pessimistically. In contrast to this crisis, the fragile South of Europe urged the prudent North to unite against the Coronavirus. Italian PM even showed more agitation, “If we do not seize the opportunity to put new life to the European projects, the risk of failure is real”.

Now we deliberately sense that co-operation alliance could be hurt amidst a peculiar crisis. IMF chief showed apprehensions, that the global economy might remain impugned till 2021. Withal, a new cycle of extreme poverty could be inhaling in the war-ravaged Arab and African regions. This could results in the migration of many affected Arabs to Europe, while the European would showcase every effort to keep them out. This will assuredly boost nationalist, anti-immigrant, and bigoted culture across the globe. Simply put this way, an amalgamation of various crises in the post-COVID-19 era is anticipated, which will intensify the existing wave of populism. Populists also manipulate legal institutions and global jurisprudence to exploit commonality through the global elite.


For instance, the role and contribution of WHO was openly criticized by the US head of state, Donald J.Trump for being too complaisant to China. The apparent mercurial world order and the concurrent blame game will further deteriorate IGO’s in the coming times. So, the odds of pertinent politicians will become faint as populist leaders perceive the crisis as an opportunity to upsurge. As Cas Mudde prognosticated about the formation of two antagonist groups, but none of them should be seen as guilty, presently for the cause of this deadly virus. The world should be assembled for further conspiracy theories.


There has been another factor of repentance between the two giants’ political class of the world, the USA, and China. They contributed to this gob, rather than provide any legitimate denouement. Conventionally, Muslims have been oppressed in India for the spread of Coronavirus. However, crafty international media and global leaders discard this narrative. Thankfully, no peculiar community, group, or nation becomes accountable for the outspread of the virus yet.

In the latest Coronavirus backdrop, we must compare it with the 9/11 scenario after which the whole of the western sphere came united against “Islamic Civilization”, as Noam Chomsky opines. The sole narrative was embraced by all of the global and regional powers at that time, either voluntarily or vigorously. But contrarily, Covid-19 outburst has fabricated rifts among westerners on the issue of funding, stratagem, and role of authoritative organizations like WHO. This impediment surely will give mutiny to the unilateralism system-populists forte and thus the formation of the contending groups.


If the Coronavirus expedition paved the way for populism, then we must also scrutinize the former performance of populism. The ramshackle organizations of populists’ regime must be the eye-opening for the political class. For example, the suspension of Barrack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), followed by the havoc caused by a virus in the USA. The social safety of the masses always remained down the list, as business and defense are the priorities of populists.


As we conversed, the eruption of Coronavirus might prove to be a game-changer for populists. The despairing and crippling economic and political framework will encourage nationalists and unilateralists. Favorably, the two recognized antagonist groups are disrupted, for now, any universal populist docket is unlikely to be acquired. In such circumstances, the fate of populism is to be adjudged at the national level. The growth of populism is above par in the post-COVID-19 world. It is an absolute responsibility of mainstream media and the political leaders to adhere, practical strategies for these crises and ensure non-partisan talk on media.


mohammad uzair Mohammad Uzair


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