In 2021, Asia Democracy Research Network (ADRN) selected pandemic crisis and democratic governance as the common challenge that continue to plague and hinder democracy in Asia.


Against this background, ADRN published this special report to evaluate the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on democratic governance in the region by studying the phenomenon and its impact within different countries in Asia, as well as their responses. The report investigates pressing, contemporary questions such as: What are the challenges that each country faces amid the COVID-19 pandemic? What are common challenges that the world face? What are the responses of the public and private sector of each respective country? How did COVID-19 change the behavior and domestic and foreign policy of major countries?


Drawing on a rich array of resources and data, this report offers country-specific analyses, highlights areas of improvement, and suggests policy recommendations for ensuring democratic governance during times of crises and emergencies.


Quotes from the Paper


“Democracies with successful COVID-19 containment measures, such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Taiwan, handled COVID countermeasures based on science, as well as transparency which allows the public to analyze government policies scientifically. These countries held press conferences almost every day until the virus was under control to increase the public’s trust in the government and to guide the regulations.” – Japan Center for International Exchange.


“The tendency towards autocratic governance was spreading around the world prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. However, the pandemic exacerbated this tendency. In many countries, the pandemic provided an opportunity for authoritarian leaders to expand their powers. As the pandemic raged, these elected chief executives demanded and received even more authority from the legislature to manage the health crisis… The revival of democratic institutions is crucial in fighting corruption in a judicious and systematic manner.” - Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Governance


“The pandemic period has seen not only a public health and economic crisis but an acceleration of the anti-democratic trends which exacerbated these crises. Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 response has been characterized by a lack of regard for minority rights, the suppression of protests, increased militarization, a move towards autocracy, and an accompanying lack of accountability. Each of these processes, in addition to being worrying in and of themselves, have contributed to the various inadequacies of the COVID-19 response.” - Centre for Policy Alternatives




Various researchers from Japan Center for International Exchange, Academy of Political Education, East Asia Institute, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Governance, King Prajadhipok’s Institute, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Society for Participatory Research in Asia, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency, Samata Foundation, and Centre for Policy Alternatives contributed to the research and writing of each report.


EAI provided support in the form of typesetting and proofreading for the production of the reports



Typeset by Ha Eun Yoon Research Associate
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