NEW POLICY MEMO for the Canada Europe Dialogue on Democracy Project (CEDoD): Solidarity in the era of Coronavirus: Civil society and legitimacy by Javier Dichupa Covida Collective | University of Victoria

Executive Summary

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of a heavily globalized world. Supply chains are straining, economies are receding, and most of the world is now living under some form of restriction. Furthermore, governments are competing over scarce medical resources and blaming each other for their own shortcomings. Compounding these issues is the health-related aspect of this crisis, which pits public health measures against civil liberties and rights. The pandemic is eroding trust between states and damaging the relationship between governments and their citizens; therefore, hampering the response to the virus and creating sociopolitical instability.

Governments have taken extraordinary measures to combat COVID-19, though the way they are doing so could be causing severe problems. These measures are fueling a decline in solidarity and trust. Domestically, Spain and Italy are beginning to see a breakdown of sympathy in their parliaments. Furthermore, their long and harsh lockdowns are starting to fuel contempt in the population. Though, most urgently, the lack of solidarity at the supranational level could carry negative long-term implications for the Union. The EU is heavily reliant on public opinion for its legitimacy. With trust in the EU falling in Southern Europe, this could prove very damaging for the Union’s legitimacy, mainly because of the recent loss of the United Kingdom. If unaddressed, the decline in solidarity will further undermine the European project, possibly fatally.

Based on the information gathered, the optimal course of action would be to take a bottom-up approach to the crisis. By enlisting the aid of civil society organizations, governments could gain valuable information regarding public opinion. Therefore, giving governments more data to draft better legislation domestically. Supranationally, civil society groups could use their networks to gather consensus from across the Union. They allow governments to work together in areas where it would be easy to find a census. Involving civil society organizations into the COVID-19 response would give the people a chance to voice their concerns. This approach would increase input legitimacy and enhance the outputs governments produce. Stabilizing the Union and promoting the solidarity it needs to overcome the virus. Centre for Global Studies Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

Read the full Policy Memo by Javier Dichupa, University of Victoria. Written in consultation with Dr. Pablo Ouziel, Dr. Keith Cherry and Dr. Oliver Schmidtke, Department of Political Science and Centre for Global Studies.

The CEDoD project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria. 

The European Union support for the production of publications does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflect the views only of the authors, and cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.




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