The ideational robustness of liberal democracy in the wake of the pandemic: comparing the Danish and Swedish cases

Åsa Knaggård, Peter Triantafillou

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


The Covid-19 pandemic sparked unprecedented political responses dramatically affecting societies, markets, and the lives of individuals. Under great uncertainty and turbulent conditions, governments adopted far-reaching political interventions to curb the pandemic. These interventions might therefore be expected to challenge key ideas underpinning liberal democracy. We analyze and compare how the political interventions seeking to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Denmark and Sweden challenged and possibly adapted three key ideas underpinning liberal democracy, namely, constitutionality, parliamentarism, and public responsiveness. When ideas are adapted in ways that advance their ability to stay relevant when faced with turbulence, we understand them as robust. Our study found both similarities and differences between the two countries. The idea of constitutionality was challenged in Denmark but remained robust in Sweden. The idea of parliamentarism appeared robust in both countries, whereas the idea of public responsiveness was adapted in neither country but challenged further in Sweden than in Denmark. Paradoxically, Denmark saw fewer adaptations to the liberal democratic ideas than Sweden yet appeared better prepared to protect lives during turbulent times. Our study suggests that liberal democracies must very carefully balance trade-offs between individual liberties and the protection of public health to preserve the core public ideas of constitutionality, parliamentarism, and public responsiveness.
TidsskriftPolicy and Society
Vol/bindAdvance article
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 2024


  • ideational robustness
  • Covid-19 pandemic
  • liberal democracy
  • Denmark
  • Sweden

Citer dette