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The Politics of the Pandemic

Although the full implications of the COVID-19 pandemic remain to be seen, it is already clear that domestic and international politics will – and must – change to prevent an even deeper disaster. We are entering a brave new world in which "big government" and international solidarity are both unavoidable.

BERLIN – The asteroid has hit, and suddenly everything has changed. But the asteroid that has crashed into our planet is invisible. One needs a microscope, rather than a telescope, to see it.

With COVID-19, the world faces several crises in one: a global health crisis has triggered crises in the economy, civil society, and daily life. It remains to be seen whether political instability will follow, either within countries or internationally. But, clearly, the pandemic has drastically changed life as we know it. While the end of the crisis and its consequences can’t be predicted, certain significant changes can be anticipated.

The crisis is not just complex, far-reaching, and threatening to the foundations of individual societies and the global economy. It is also many times more dangerous and extensive than the 2008 global financial crisis. Unlike that episode, the coronavirus threatens millions of lives around the world, and its effects on the economy are not centered in only one sector.