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A question of governance

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WHILE the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the world, the faltering response of many governments has sparked a lively global debate about why some countries have effectively managed the crisis while others haven’t.

This has focused renewed attention on fundamental issues of governance. While the jury is still out on how countries have fared, there is considerable evidence now of what it takes to manage competently. Countries with leaders who governed well before the crisis, and were decisive, inclusive and listened to their experts after the outbreak, did much better to contain the virus than whimsical leaders who made policy a hostage to their ego.

The question has also been raised of whether democracies or authoritarian states have managed the crisis better. Illiberal democracies have been identified as among those who have mishandled the response. Gender as a factor in leadership has also been considered with analysts pointing out that many women leaders have outperformed several of their male counterparts. The examples cited are of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

More important than the type of political system or gender is the quality of governance that preceded the pandemic and was tested, as was the leadership, when Covid-19 struck. Able management has been possible under different political systems. But democracies with poor leadership have had no edge over other political systems.

Picking daily fights with opponents distracts from challenges and sets up a divisive form of governance.

Examples abound. Perhaps the US provides the most compelling illustration of how a country under an erratic leader governing divisively and capriciously made such a mess........

© Dawn

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