COVID-19 has put pressure on political systems everywhere to deliver effective governance on an emergency basis. Within months of the pandemic's arrival, it became clear the key determinant for meeting this challenge was not whether a political system was authoritarian or democratic, but whether a system had an adequate degree of state capacity, preparedness, and public trust.
Now a year into the pandemic, new political challenges have emerged. For democracies, what lessons and reforms will they address following the crisis? For authoritarians, will their many power-grabs from the start of the pandemic become permanent? Also in question is whether populist political forces will benefit or suffer from their leadership, given rising public discontent spurred by pandemic restrictions and mismanagement and yet the greater appreciation for scientific advancements. Finally, the relatively good performance of Asian nations—democratic and authoritarian—relative to Western nations and supranational bodies, suggests a shifting landscape of global power.