Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Series Examines How COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Progressives in the World’s Leading Democracies
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Series Examines How COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Progressives in the World’s Leading Democracies

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress is publishing a series of papers by an international group of scholars that examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected progressives in the world’s leading democracies and what lessons can be drawn from the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

The analysis is informed by a series of discussions that Global Progress, a CAP initiative that brings together progressive thinkers and leaders from around the world, launched in early March 2020, as the pandemic took hold in Europe and the United States.

Over the course of the past nine months, bringing together progressive thinkers, policymakers, and strategists from across 30 countries spanning four continents, these discussions addressed the new challenges that COVID-19 presents for the advancement of progressives policies and examined how existing challenges are being transformed. The analysis draws on a series of country studies commissioned by the Center for American Progress as part of its Beyond Populism and Post-Pandemic Politics project.

These papers review the lessons for progressives in the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, Canada, France, Australia, and the United Kingdom. CAP is publishing the first five papers; the paper on the UK will be published by the Progressive Centre UK; and the paper on Australia will be published by the John Curtin Research Centre.

Among the broad conclusions:

  • The COVID-19 crisis and its economic, social, and public health implications have not necessarily created a favorable political landscape for progressive policies—even in places where the pandemic is being mismanaged by incumbent conservative governments or denied by populist opposition leaders. The pandemic did expose the social inequalities and injustices that progressives have long sought to redress. The media attention these issues received may create a space for progressive policies to be advanced if pitched correctly.
  • For now, it seems that political parties of all persuasions have become social democratic—at least when it comes to economic intervention. As the pandemic took hold, and the economic consequences became ever more apparent, governments of all political persuasions—even the most conservative—began dramatic interventions into the economy to support incomes, businesses, and services. The emergence of a new social democratic consensus around the economy and the key role of government presents both opportunities and challenges for progressive ideas.
  • Progressives still face two crucial challenges: technology and culture. To build momentum behind progressive reforms, there will need to be a plan and strategy to ensure that technology works for the many and not the few. And in responding to today’s cultural backlash against social distancing, mask-wearing, or implementing lockdowns, the challenge for progressives is to hold together a progressive movement that is sympathetic to its ambitions.

Read the overview of the series: “No Time to Celebrate: Progressive Politics in the Pandemic’s Wake” by Matt Browne and Alexandra Schmitt.

Read the papers published by CAP:

For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at [email protected] or 202-478-6327.