The World Will Experience Highly Variable Long-term Risks Due To The Pandemic – Says Political Analyst In The UK
The advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic has caused individual minds to only think about how to survive, businesses; on how to strive to remain relevant and governments to strategize on how to keep their economies afloat for short, medium and long terms.
Conversations and discussions have been held – and more are yet to be held - by experts around the world to provide a pool of diverse views about the gravity of the health crisis, the impact of the pandemic and the way forward after COVID-19 is over.
Due to the need to practice social distancing, in a bid to minimize the spread of the pandemic, most of these discussions are held on virtual platforms. This has led to the significant boost in the use of technology especially in Africa and caused many Africans most especially, Ghanaians to adapt and appreciate technology.
On May 14, 2020, a presentation done by a Senior Political Analyst in the United Kingdom, Matt Sechovsky, indicated that Sub-Saharan Africa for its medium term, will have poor financial resources, weaker public health systems, concerns about ‘power grabs’, anti-Islamist militancy operations will become less prioritized and food security will be of huge concerns especially in East Africa.
Addressing the general impact on the world for medium term, Matt Sechovsky stated that emerging markets will face similar risks and he highlighted economic contraction, higher unemployment, lower consumption, reduced demand for exports, reduced demand for commodities, rising anti-incumbency, fiscal loosing and reduced scope for reforms; as the risks to be encountered by markets.
Speaking on the topic, COVID-19: Political and Geopolitical Risks, he stressed that the world will experience highly variable long-term (beyond 2020) risks due to the pandemic.
He explained that there will be substantial austerity due to unsustainable fiscal stimulus measures. This, he means that inequality will be exacerbated and social discontent will rise.
Talking about healthcare, he said the sector is likely to increase as a political issue. He also said Universal Basic Income (UBI) will become a mainstream political idea because before the pandemic, it was slowly being discussed in policy debates. Climate change according to him, will remain a political issue due to the Northern hemisphere warming which could bring more tropical diseases to temperate zones.
On the brighter side for some ‘strong’ governments, he stated that these governments will see growing acceptance by their citizens due to the manner they handle the pandemic and the emergency measures they put in place as responses. According to Sechovsky’s research, populist leaders may have a comparative advantage as some leaders such as Trump and Bolsonaro appeared to take COVID-19 seriously at a slow pace.
As globalization moved at a steady pace to get to where it is now, Sechovsky believes that the novel coronavirus pandemic is a huge blow to globalization. According to him, the pandemic will lead to protectionism. His conclusion is based on the fact that there has been a lack of international coordination in dealing with the virus, most countries are prioritising their own health needs and even EU states have acted unilaterally rather than in coordination during the pandemic.
Impact of COVID-19 on Globalisation
Looking at the short-term impact (currently and a few weeks or months to come), political stability is most likely to be short-lived. His projection is based on the fact that there have been postponements of elections by many months which means reduced risks of imminent governmental change.
Another fact is, as most countries are on lockdown, public gatherings – of which protests are a part - are banned. Citing Hong Kong as an example, he indicated that fears of virus would deter mass public gatherings even if lockdowns were not in force.
Sechovsky also concluded on the fact that governments are unveiling massive fiscal spending packages and support measures to cushion the impact of rising unemployment.
The report however emphasized that some countries could see instability sooner. This is because, lockdowns may be difficult to enforce in cities with large informal settlements, where government support measures are weak.
There could be pockets of unrest in supermarkets, among others, if food starts running out.
Again, prolonged lockdowns could have unpredictable psychological consequences on individuals.
Sourcing Fitch Solutions, he further stated the following countries as the ones with their elections postponed till further notice due to the pandemic. Bolivia, Chile (referendum), Cyprus, Turkish Republic of North, Ethiopia, Germany (CDU leadership), Indonesia (local), Italy (referendum + regional), North Macedonia, Poland, Russia (referendum), Serbia, Spain (Basque and Galicia), Switzerland (EU movement ref.) and the United Kingdom (local and big city).