How to weather the storm: a comparative case study on populist trajectorıes to COVID-19 pandemic

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Bilkent University

Why populist leaders have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic differently? This thesis addresses this question through a paired comparison of Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey. These three countries, despite being similar, have employed unique responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cases are explained based on two sets of indicators. First, the national indicators address the overall conduct within the case where vaccination efforts, closures, quarantines, local and national policies are assessed. The second set of indicators address the leaders’ attitude, their recognition of the seriousness of the pandemic, and assess their populist tendencies during the crisis. Crisis management, populism, and recently emerging COVID-19 politics literature have been used alongside articles in media to trace the change in the policies and leaders’ evolving discourses. These changes are explained through three factors: the left-right continuum, social aid capabilities, and opposition strength.
After the analyses, the thesis suggests new terms for unique trajectories. Adversarial denialism for Brazil indicates an environment where during the downplaying of the pandemic, efforts of other parties are demonized. Defective inclusionism for Mexico denotes a setting where the leader gradually defects his denialistic positions after popular pressure while failing to provide inclusionist policies. Partisan affirmation for Turkey signifies a monopolization of the conduct where efforts of others are systemically prevented.

Cataloged from PDF version of article.
Thesis (Master's): Bilkent University, Department of International Relations, İhsan Doğramacı Bilkent University, 2021.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 117-138).
Populism, Crisis management, COVID-19