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Covid-19 has merely accelerated the great geopolitical reality of the 21st century: the rise of Xi's China and the decline of Trump's America © Reuters/Kevin Lamarque & Shutterstock; Xie Huanchi/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Coronavirus, the rise of “acceptable authoritarianism” and the battle for democracy

Coronavirus has upended the world order and called basic liberal values into question. With authoritarianism on the rise, can democracy as we know it survive?

The announcement that democracy had been suspended in the United Kingdom was the seventh item on the BBC News at Ten on 13th March. The year-long postponement of around 120 local elections, including the mayoralties of London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, was mentioned in passing, with no voices raised in opposition. The last time elections had been postponed for longer than a month was during the Second World War.

Two weeks later, the prime minister’s declaration that all citizens must stay at home, with the warning that police forces would fine those refusing to comply, was made in advance of any vote by MPs. The Coronavirus Act, rammed through parliament two days later, included a swathe of new powers for the state over the citizen.

If you wanted to protest these decisions the most you could do was write a letter or sign a petition.…

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