Covid and diversity of opinion

Are non-mainstream voices on how to fight the pandemic not being heard? Europe's media discuss the accusation, which has been made not just by people who deny the seriousness of the pandemic. Some commentators are also self-critical on this point.

Open/close all quotes
Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Those not with us are our enemies

The scope for debate is shrinking rapidly, Rzeczpospolita complains:

“There is a dangerous tendency to allow only those who represent the right views to debate on important issues. Worse still, this is done under the hypocritical pretext of acting knowledgeably and not giving madness any space. Anyone who dares to stray from the condoned narrative - and even those who refuse to advocate its most radical version - is considered a fanatic. ... Thanks to this approach, discussions take place in bubbles, views are no longer exchanged, the proponents of different points of view are increasingly seen not as opponents, but as enemies or worse still as crazy people only fit for ridicule.” (DE) /

There will always be alternatives calls for an open discussion about the long-term fight against pandemics, from which alternatives to the dominant lockdown strategy must not be excluded:

“Perhaps a lockdown that is sometimes tightened and sometimes loosened is indeed the right approach for the coming months. But perhaps not. ... Perhaps we need to accept that the number of new infections will remain high, and focus on reducing the number of severe cases and deaths by better protecting high-risk groups. And there may be other alternatives altogether. It is important to discuss such issues in a democracy - in the Bundestag and in the state parliaments. And if possible before measures are adopted, and not always afterwards.”

De Standaard (BE) /

We don't need blind trust

Democracies will only get through the current stress test with a healthy dose of critical awareness, says De Standaard:

“Covid puts pressure on the weak points. In democracies, these are trust in fellow citizens, politicians, doctors, scientists, media and vaccines. Only sufficient trust can keep things together. When others disregard the rules with their parties, when the state takes on authoritarian traits, and when people are wary of the pharmaceutical industry, trust crumbles rapidly. ... But we don't need blind trust. ... A critical approach can save us: agreement on the facts, but disagreement on the interpretations, unity regarding the ultimate goal but much debate on how to get there. ... All in all, this is a stress test for open democracy.”

Diena (LV) /

Progress only possible through dialogue

Governments won't get very far in the fight against pandemics with bans alone, Diena fears:

“On the one hand it's clear that all restrictions are necessary to prevent the spread of Covid in society. Because asking people to be careful and not get together is not effective, even in countries where people seem particularly cautious and responsible. ... But there is also a lack of dialogue about the socio-political processes that are now affecting us, about shared goals and how they can be achieved. About democracy and what puts it at risk. About basic values in an emergency and the prospects for returning to normalcy in the near future.”

Azonnali (HU) /

More transparency to counter conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories fall on fertile ground in Hungary due to the Hungarian government's poor communication, Azonnali criticizes:

“The communication of data [by the government about the pandemic] is flawed and inadequate. ... When it was already clear that the disaster was upon us the government took bogus measures and turned the Operative Action Group [for combating the pandemic] into a communication tool that was supposed to explain the failure to take real measures in the name of 'science'. ... Conspiracy theorists will remain among us as long as our politicians, who are perfectly aware of the true situation with the pandemic, continue to cover it up.”