Has the state proven its worth?

Covid-19 has shown the people of Europe the importance of having a state with a functioning public health service, education sector, government and agencies. Most countries have coped quite well with the crisis, commentators say, and examine whether this could lead to a long-term change in the relationship between citizens and the state.

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Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

No sign of collapse

Tygodnik Powszechny believes that the crisis has proven the state's ability to act:

“It has turned out to be necessary and indispensable. It was faced with a task that was tantamount to squaring the circle: How to react sensibly to the fear of the virus while minimising the consequences of a frozen economy and restricted social interaction? ... Different countries have reacted in different ways to these challenges and provided different resources. But generally speaking, in none of them has the state collapsed. They have all faced up to the task.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Avoid a herd identity

Commenting in La Repubblica, political scientist Lucio Caracciolo hopes for increased civic engagement in the future:

“Never before has the importance of public institutions as the first and last reference of citizens, legitimised by popular consensus, been confirmed in the way it has in this crisis. ... People will argue that it is fear of the virus that is legitimising the state, and there is certainly some truth to this. But we should take advantage of the situation to modernise the institutional system. But not through a self-referential operation, and certainly not a technocratic one. On the contrary: we need the impetus of civil society. ... After the discussion about alleged 'herd immunity', an unfortunate choice of words, it would hardly be a desirable outcome if we were to lapse into a herd identity.”