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Denial and Distraction: How the Populist Radical Right Responds to COVID-19 Comment on "A Scoping Review of PRR Parties’ Influence on Welfare Policy and its Implication for Population Health in Europe"

Denial and Distraction: How the Populist Radical Right Responds to COVID-19 Comment on "A Scoping... Article History: This commentary considers the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the study of Received: 30 June 2020 populist radical right (PRR) politicians and their influence on public health and health policy. A systematic review Accepted: 20 July 2020 of recent research on the influence of PRR politicians on the health and welfare policies shows that health is not ePublished: 3 August 2020 a policy arena that these politicians have much experience in. In office, their effects can be destructive, primarily because they subordinate health to their other goals. Brazil, the US and the UK all show this pattern. PRR politicians in opposition such as the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) in Austria or the Lega in Italy, said very little during the actual health crisis, but once the public no longer appeared afraid they lost no time in reactivating anti-European Union (EU) sentiments. Whether in government or in opposition, PRR politicians opted for distraction and denial. Their effects ranged from making the pandemic worse. Keywords: Populist Radical Right, COVID-19 Pandemic, Public Health, Health Policy Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s); Published by Kerman University of Medical Sciences. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Citation: Falkenbach M, Greer SL. Denial and distraction: how the populist radical right responds to COVID-19: *Correspondence to: Comment on “A scoping review of PRR parties’ influence on welfare policy and its implication for population health Michelle Falkenbach in Europe.” Int J Health Policy Manag. 2021;10(9):578–580. doi:10.34172/ijhpm.2020.141 Email: michfalk@umich.edu ver the last decade, politicians of the Populist Radical the preferred rhetoric of PRR politicians? The impact of PRR Right (PRR) such as the Freedom Party of Austria politicians on health policies is largely neglected, despite the O(FPÖ) in Austria, Donald Trump in the United States, fact that some PRR politicians have been appointed Health [1] the Lega in Italy, Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom or Minister at the federal level while others have appointed a [2] Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil have established themselves as serious Health Minister at a regional level . Even if PRR politicians competitors in political and electoral systems worldwide. PRR do not want to talk about health, we can talk about what they politicians are defined as any party or single politician whose do that affects health. political style combines nativism (believing in an ethnically The 2020 published article entitled “A Scoping Review of united people with a common territory), authoritarianism PRR Parties’ Influence on Welfare Policy and its Implication (believing in the value of obeying authority) and populism for Population Health in Europe,” by Rinaldi and Bekker, (preferring the ‘common sense’ of a unified people to ‘corrupt focuses on exactly this point. The authors establish that 1,2 elite’ knowledge). Their presence has increased in the there is little research “about the direct relationship between European Parliament and they have been in government on PRR parties and health.” In fact, they found the research national and subnational levels across the globe. surrounding health policies to be so thin that they had to Literature that addresses their actions in government, rather expand their scope to include social policies. This combination than just their words, tends to focus on their preferred issues: of social and health policies led them to the conclusion that immigration, integration and security. It generally finds PRR parties impact welfare policies by implementing a their policies to be consistent with their ideologies: nativist welfare chauvinistic agenda that restricts access and eligibility and authoritarian. PRR politicians in government lead to the to provisions for outsider groups such as immigrants and adoption of strict anti-immigration policies, authoritarian minorities. integration programs and stringent legal reforms looking to With the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, benefit the native population over any outside group. But the world has been exposed to the biggest public health crisis what about a policy such as health which does not fit well with to date, providing researchers with a new, and perhaps more Full list of authors’ affiliations is available at the end of the article. Falkenbach and Greer direct chance to study PRR politicians and their impact on alert” was never explained despite its being a key slogan) and public health and health policy. undermined by the refusal to fire high-profile Johnson advisor, In or out of power, the selected PRR responses were Dominic Cummings, who very publicly flouted quarantine. similar from country to country: denial and distraction. Having muddied and undermined its stay at home message, PRR politicians, particularly in the five countries discussed, the Johnson government then courted the right-wing press sometimes went so far as to deny the existence of the pandemic, and its voters by re-opening pubs at the end of June while also and insofar as they had a response it was to find someone to imposing a two week quarantine on international travelers, blame for the crisis, whether it be the European Union (EU), also nonsensical given that the United Kingdom was at that the World Health Organization (WHO) or migrants. This point an exporter rather than an importer of the virus. is consistent with a family of politicians who win few votes Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro was probably the most with healthcare and generally prefer to avoid health topics or flagrant denialist. He is still, after registering almost half a reframe them as the kinds of security and immigration issues million infections and being infected himself, denying the that the PRR prefers to emphasize. severity of the disease. Even after 17 500 Brazilians were reported dead from the virus in mid-May, the President Populist Radical Right Politicians in Government: Jair refused to take the matter seriously. He was quoted saying Bolsonaro, Boris Johnson, and Donald Trump things like the virus was no more than a “little flu” and that At the end of January, Trump publicly dismissed risks of the China is responsible for provoking hysteria throughout the coronavirus, stating that everything was under control. The world. While the President continues to downplay the virus, White House did not exercise the leadership necessary to regional authorities have taken charge and ordered lockdowns. mobilize the federal government, notably by permitting an Brazilian health ministers (there have been three within the interagency conflict over test kits to paralyze testing; later, course of a few months) have attempted to support these local Trump would claim, and confirm, that “when you do testing measures of contagion, however, the President has taken to to that extent, you’re going to find more people; you’re going either firing them, forcing them to resign or chooses to blame to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing them, and local authorities, for the stagnating economy. Brazil down please.” Massive cuts were made to research and health is second only to the United States with 1.23 million officially institutions prior to the onset of the pandemic, so it is of no recorded corona infections, however the estimated number of surprise that health professionals were lacking not only testing unknown cases is speculated as being much higher. kits, but also reliable information and coordination efforts What these instances have proven is that the populist from the dispersed and underfunded agencies. The result: A rhetoric, solidified in emotive narratives, is not the answer to public health disaster claiming the lives of well over 136 000 a public health crisis. What becomes strikingly clear is that Americans to date (in the United States, like most countries, these three PRR politicians have very little competence in COVID-19 cases and attributable deaths are undercounts due matters of public health and healthcare. Trump’s suggestion to limited testing, so excess mortality is the useful statistic). of injecting disinfectant to treat the virus and Johnson and Trump’s preferred reactions were focused on migration (eg, Bolsonaro’s continued handshaking and close contact with suspending visas) and border closures, nonsensical given that people underlines their attempt to downplay the pandemic. the virus was clearly endemic in the United States and people Health is not a good issue for PRR politicians, and so it is leaving the United States for other countries were a bigger unsurprising, if tragic, that they consistently try to change the global health threat than those entering. After protests erupted topic rather than address the problem. across the United States in favor of opening business, shops and restaurants again, Trump actively voiced his support for Populist Radical Right Politicians in Opposition: Austria them, creating an even deeper divide between Democratic and Italy and Republican states. In addition, Trump blamed the WHO PRR politicians in opposition, such as the Austrian FPÖ for their late reaction and announced that the United States or the Italian Lega, initially blamed migrants for its onset, would withdraw. By late June he had effectively abandoned pushed for early border closures and are now, as the number the US response plan and dismantled the federal coordinating of infected continue to decrease, demanding a quick return system, restarting rallies and changing the topic to his to “normality” in order to save the economy. Freed from the preferred issues of “law and order” (racist code in the United responsibility of actually having to manage the pandemic, States) and a putative economic rebound. these politicians kept quiet while the virus infiltrated their Similarly, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson chose to respective countries. As soon as the health scare appeared to ignore the gravity of the situation, despite having personally be over and public sentiment began questioning government been hospitalized with it. Unforced but unsurprising English measures, these same leaders reemerged unleashing their errors made the situation worse. Contact-tracing was stop- criticisms of governmnet measures as having been too harsh, and-start, policy for schools in England was inconsistent and undeomocratic and economically desastorous; therein casting poorly explained, and communications were often unclear. blame in a way that increased the salience of their preferred Contracting testing to big outsourcing companies rather issues. than running it through the National Health Service slowed Although not in government at the time, Lega head, Matteo the process and disconnected it from health services. Public Salvini, blamed Italy’s prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in health messaging was confusing (a government call to “stay February 2020 saying that he was not defending Italy and International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 2021, 10(9), 578–580 Falkenbach and Greer Competing interests Italians from the coronavirus when a boat carrying African Authors declare that they have no competing interests. migrants was allowed to dock in Sicily. In fact, Salvini advocated for closing the borders entirely at that time. On Authors’ contributions April 30, 2020, several PRR Lega leaders including Salvini Both MF and SLG contributed to the conception, drafting, and review of this himself, occupied the Italian parliament in protest of ongoing commentary. lockdown measures demanding the “restoration of full Authors’ affiliations liberties” despite the fact that the country was still reporting Department of Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health, 1500 new infections per day. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Similarly, Norbert Hofer, leader of the PRR FPÖ in Austria MI, USA. called for border closures at the end of February, especially with Italy, contrary to WHO advice at the time as to how to Endnotes [1] This was the case in Austria in 2000 and again in 2018. contain the spread of the virus. 500 demonstrators joined [2] Luca Coletto in Veneto, Italy has been the Minister of Health for the region the Viennese FPÖ in a protest against the “corona craziness” since 2010. brought about by the ÖVP/Green government that massively “restricted civil liberties” through their “excessive corona References 1. Mudde C. The populist radical right: A pathological normalcy. West measures.” Eur Polit. 2010;33(6):1167-1186. doi:10.1080/01402382.2010.508901 Not only are the PRR leaders critizcing their country’s 2. Falkenbach M, Greer SL. Political parties matter: the impact of the own government, but they are reigniting anti-EU sentiments. populist radical right on health. Eur J Public Health. 2018;28:15-18. Salvini is advocating for re-founding the EU based on new doi:10.11821/dlxb201802008 3. Rinaldi C, Bekker MPM. A scoping review of populist radical right principles so that each country can have its own monetary parties’ influence on welfare policy and its implications for population policy and the FPÖ is unsurprisingly against the EU proposed health in Europe. Int J Health Policy Manag. 2020; In Press. corona bonds. doi:10.34172/IJHPM.2020.48 4. Abutaleb Y, Telford T, Dawsey J. Democrats, public health experts decry Trump for saying he asked officials to slow down coronavirus Denial and Distraction testing. Washington Post. June 21, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost. As Rinaldi and Bekker and the scholarship they review com/politics/2020/06/21/democrats-public-health-experts-decry- show, health is not a favored issue for the PRR. Security and trump-saying-he-asked-officials-slow-down-coronavirus-testing/. migration are their preferred issues. Before the pandemic, 5. Worldometer. United States. https://www.worldometers.info/ coronavirus/country/us/. Accessed July 11, 2020. Published 2020. the result was that they de-emphasized the topic, framed it 6. Roberts H. Salvini occupies Italian parliament in lockdown protest. in nativist terms when they did discuss it, and when they had Politico. April 30, 2020. https://www.politico.eu/article/matteo-salvini- to make health policies tended to pursue fairly conventional coronavirus-occupies-italian-parliament-in-lockdown-protest/. 10,11 right-wing approaches. 7. Müller A, Yossef A. FPÖ-Anti-Corona-Demo: “Bin kein rechter Verschwörungstheoretiker mit Aluhut.” der Standard. May 20, 2020. Faced with a pandemic, their key strategies, whether in or https://www.derstandard.at/story/2000117615145/fpoe-anti-corona- out of power, were denial and distraction. Denial could be demo-bin-kein-rechter-verschwoerungstheoretiker-mit-aluhut. explicit, as with Trump’s claim that coronavirus was a “hoax,” Accessed June 2, 2020. or implicit, as in efforts to reopen countries before containing 8. Vergine S. Coronavirus: Are Italians losing faith in the EU? BBC News. the outbreak. Distraction meant blaming somebody else, be May 17, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52666870. 9. Freiheitlicher Parlamentsklub. FPÖ – Kickl/Steger: Eurobonds it the EU, WHO, or foreigners, and led to damaging border sind auch auf Corona die falsche Antwort. https://www.ots.at/ control policies as well as the US decision to leave the WHO presseaussendung/OTS_20200321_OTS0010/fpoe-kicklsteger- mid-pandemic. Both strategies undermine public health eurobonds-sind-auch-auf-corona-die-falsche-antwort. Published and cost lives. Both strategies reflect the PRR preference for March 21, 2020. 10. Falkenbach M, Bekker M, Greer SL. Do parties make a difference? A nativist and authoritarian policies and issue framings that review of partisan effects on health and the welfare state. Eur J Public support those policies. PRR discomfort with health policy has Health. 2019;ckz133. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckz133 significantly worsened the public health crisis and in some 11. Falkenbach M, Greer SL. Political parties matter: the impact of the countries contributed to a crisis of democracy. populist radical right on health. Eur J Public Health. 2018;28(suppl 3):15-18. doi:10.1093/eurpub/cky157 Ethical issues Not applicable. 580 International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 2021, 10(9), 578–580 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Health Policy and Management Pubmed Central

Denial and Distraction: How the Populist Radical Right Responds to COVID-19 Comment on "A Scoping Review of PRR Parties’ Influence on Welfare Policy and its Implication for Population Health in Europe"

International Journal of Health Policy and Management , Volume 10 (9) – Aug 3, 2020

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Pubmed Central
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© 2021 The Author(s); Published by Kerman University of Medical Sciences
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2322-5939
DOI
10.34172/ijhpm.2020.141
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Abstract

Article History: This commentary considers the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the study of Received: 30 June 2020 populist radical right (PRR) politicians and their influence on public health and health policy. A systematic review Accepted: 20 July 2020 of recent research on the influence of PRR politicians on the health and welfare policies shows that health is not ePublished: 3 August 2020 a policy arena that these politicians have much experience in. In office, their effects can be destructive, primarily because they subordinate health to their other goals. Brazil, the US and the UK all show this pattern. PRR politicians in opposition such as the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) in Austria or the Lega in Italy, said very little during the actual health crisis, but once the public no longer appeared afraid they lost no time in reactivating anti-European Union (EU) sentiments. Whether in government or in opposition, PRR politicians opted for distraction and denial. Their effects ranged from making the pandemic worse. Keywords: Populist Radical Right, COVID-19 Pandemic, Public Health, Health Policy Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s); Published by Kerman University of Medical Sciences. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Citation: Falkenbach M, Greer SL. Denial and distraction: how the populist radical right responds to COVID-19: *Correspondence to: Comment on “A scoping review of PRR parties’ influence on welfare policy and its implication for population health Michelle Falkenbach in Europe.” Int J Health Policy Manag. 2021;10(9):578–580. doi:10.34172/ijhpm.2020.141 Email: michfalk@umich.edu ver the last decade, politicians of the Populist Radical the preferred rhetoric of PRR politicians? The impact of PRR Right (PRR) such as the Freedom Party of Austria politicians on health policies is largely neglected, despite the O(FPÖ) in Austria, Donald Trump in the United States, fact that some PRR politicians have been appointed Health [1] the Lega in Italy, Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom or Minister at the federal level while others have appointed a [2] Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil have established themselves as serious Health Minister at a regional level . Even if PRR politicians competitors in political and electoral systems worldwide. PRR do not want to talk about health, we can talk about what they politicians are defined as any party or single politician whose do that affects health. political style combines nativism (believing in an ethnically The 2020 published article entitled “A Scoping Review of united people with a common territory), authoritarianism PRR Parties’ Influence on Welfare Policy and its Implication (believing in the value of obeying authority) and populism for Population Health in Europe,” by Rinaldi and Bekker, (preferring the ‘common sense’ of a unified people to ‘corrupt focuses on exactly this point. The authors establish that 1,2 elite’ knowledge). Their presence has increased in the there is little research “about the direct relationship between European Parliament and they have been in government on PRR parties and health.” In fact, they found the research national and subnational levels across the globe. surrounding health policies to be so thin that they had to Literature that addresses their actions in government, rather expand their scope to include social policies. This combination than just their words, tends to focus on their preferred issues: of social and health policies led them to the conclusion that immigration, integration and security. It generally finds PRR parties impact welfare policies by implementing a their policies to be consistent with their ideologies: nativist welfare chauvinistic agenda that restricts access and eligibility and authoritarian. PRR politicians in government lead to the to provisions for outsider groups such as immigrants and adoption of strict anti-immigration policies, authoritarian minorities. integration programs and stringent legal reforms looking to With the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, benefit the native population over any outside group. But the world has been exposed to the biggest public health crisis what about a policy such as health which does not fit well with to date, providing researchers with a new, and perhaps more Full list of authors’ affiliations is available at the end of the article. Falkenbach and Greer direct chance to study PRR politicians and their impact on alert” was never explained despite its being a key slogan) and public health and health policy. undermined by the refusal to fire high-profile Johnson advisor, In or out of power, the selected PRR responses were Dominic Cummings, who very publicly flouted quarantine. similar from country to country: denial and distraction. Having muddied and undermined its stay at home message, PRR politicians, particularly in the five countries discussed, the Johnson government then courted the right-wing press sometimes went so far as to deny the existence of the pandemic, and its voters by re-opening pubs at the end of June while also and insofar as they had a response it was to find someone to imposing a two week quarantine on international travelers, blame for the crisis, whether it be the European Union (EU), also nonsensical given that the United Kingdom was at that the World Health Organization (WHO) or migrants. This point an exporter rather than an importer of the virus. is consistent with a family of politicians who win few votes Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro was probably the most with healthcare and generally prefer to avoid health topics or flagrant denialist. He is still, after registering almost half a reframe them as the kinds of security and immigration issues million infections and being infected himself, denying the that the PRR prefers to emphasize. severity of the disease. Even after 17 500 Brazilians were reported dead from the virus in mid-May, the President Populist Radical Right Politicians in Government: Jair refused to take the matter seriously. He was quoted saying Bolsonaro, Boris Johnson, and Donald Trump things like the virus was no more than a “little flu” and that At the end of January, Trump publicly dismissed risks of the China is responsible for provoking hysteria throughout the coronavirus, stating that everything was under control. The world. While the President continues to downplay the virus, White House did not exercise the leadership necessary to regional authorities have taken charge and ordered lockdowns. mobilize the federal government, notably by permitting an Brazilian health ministers (there have been three within the interagency conflict over test kits to paralyze testing; later, course of a few months) have attempted to support these local Trump would claim, and confirm, that “when you do testing measures of contagion, however, the President has taken to to that extent, you’re going to find more people; you’re going either firing them, forcing them to resign or chooses to blame to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing them, and local authorities, for the stagnating economy. Brazil down please.” Massive cuts were made to research and health is second only to the United States with 1.23 million officially institutions prior to the onset of the pandemic, so it is of no recorded corona infections, however the estimated number of surprise that health professionals were lacking not only testing unknown cases is speculated as being much higher. kits, but also reliable information and coordination efforts What these instances have proven is that the populist from the dispersed and underfunded agencies. The result: A rhetoric, solidified in emotive narratives, is not the answer to public health disaster claiming the lives of well over 136 000 a public health crisis. What becomes strikingly clear is that Americans to date (in the United States, like most countries, these three PRR politicians have very little competence in COVID-19 cases and attributable deaths are undercounts due matters of public health and healthcare. Trump’s suggestion to limited testing, so excess mortality is the useful statistic). of injecting disinfectant to treat the virus and Johnson and Trump’s preferred reactions were focused on migration (eg, Bolsonaro’s continued handshaking and close contact with suspending visas) and border closures, nonsensical given that people underlines their attempt to downplay the pandemic. the virus was clearly endemic in the United States and people Health is not a good issue for PRR politicians, and so it is leaving the United States for other countries were a bigger unsurprising, if tragic, that they consistently try to change the global health threat than those entering. After protests erupted topic rather than address the problem. across the United States in favor of opening business, shops and restaurants again, Trump actively voiced his support for Populist Radical Right Politicians in Opposition: Austria them, creating an even deeper divide between Democratic and Italy and Republican states. In addition, Trump blamed the WHO PRR politicians in opposition, such as the Austrian FPÖ for their late reaction and announced that the United States or the Italian Lega, initially blamed migrants for its onset, would withdraw. By late June he had effectively abandoned pushed for early border closures and are now, as the number the US response plan and dismantled the federal coordinating of infected continue to decrease, demanding a quick return system, restarting rallies and changing the topic to his to “normality” in order to save the economy. Freed from the preferred issues of “law and order” (racist code in the United responsibility of actually having to manage the pandemic, States) and a putative economic rebound. these politicians kept quiet while the virus infiltrated their Similarly, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson chose to respective countries. As soon as the health scare appeared to ignore the gravity of the situation, despite having personally be over and public sentiment began questioning government been hospitalized with it. Unforced but unsurprising English measures, these same leaders reemerged unleashing their errors made the situation worse. Contact-tracing was stop- criticisms of governmnet measures as having been too harsh, and-start, policy for schools in England was inconsistent and undeomocratic and economically desastorous; therein casting poorly explained, and communications were often unclear. blame in a way that increased the salience of their preferred Contracting testing to big outsourcing companies rather issues. than running it through the National Health Service slowed Although not in government at the time, Lega head, Matteo the process and disconnected it from health services. Public Salvini, blamed Italy’s prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in health messaging was confusing (a government call to “stay February 2020 saying that he was not defending Italy and International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 2021, 10(9), 578–580 Falkenbach and Greer Competing interests Italians from the coronavirus when a boat carrying African Authors declare that they have no competing interests. migrants was allowed to dock in Sicily. In fact, Salvini advocated for closing the borders entirely at that time. On Authors’ contributions April 30, 2020, several PRR Lega leaders including Salvini Both MF and SLG contributed to the conception, drafting, and review of this himself, occupied the Italian parliament in protest of ongoing commentary. lockdown measures demanding the “restoration of full Authors’ affiliations liberties” despite the fact that the country was still reporting Department of Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health, 1500 new infections per day. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Similarly, Norbert Hofer, leader of the PRR FPÖ in Austria MI, USA. called for border closures at the end of February, especially with Italy, contrary to WHO advice at the time as to how to Endnotes [1] This was the case in Austria in 2000 and again in 2018. contain the spread of the virus. 500 demonstrators joined [2] Luca Coletto in Veneto, Italy has been the Minister of Health for the region the Viennese FPÖ in a protest against the “corona craziness” since 2010. brought about by the ÖVP/Green government that massively “restricted civil liberties” through their “excessive corona References 1. Mudde C. The populist radical right: A pathological normalcy. West measures.” Eur Polit. 2010;33(6):1167-1186. doi:10.1080/01402382.2010.508901 Not only are the PRR leaders critizcing their country’s 2. Falkenbach M, Greer SL. Political parties matter: the impact of the own government, but they are reigniting anti-EU sentiments. populist radical right on health. Eur J Public Health. 2018;28:15-18. Salvini is advocating for re-founding the EU based on new doi:10.11821/dlxb201802008 3. Rinaldi C, Bekker MPM. A scoping review of populist radical right principles so that each country can have its own monetary parties’ influence on welfare policy and its implications for population policy and the FPÖ is unsurprisingly against the EU proposed health in Europe. Int J Health Policy Manag. 2020; In Press. corona bonds. doi:10.34172/IJHPM.2020.48 4. Abutaleb Y, Telford T, Dawsey J. Democrats, public health experts decry Trump for saying he asked officials to slow down coronavirus Denial and Distraction testing. Washington Post. June 21, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost. As Rinaldi and Bekker and the scholarship they review com/politics/2020/06/21/democrats-public-health-experts-decry- show, health is not a favored issue for the PRR. Security and trump-saying-he-asked-officials-slow-down-coronavirus-testing/. migration are their preferred issues. Before the pandemic, 5. Worldometer. United States. https://www.worldometers.info/ coronavirus/country/us/. Accessed July 11, 2020. Published 2020. the result was that they de-emphasized the topic, framed it 6. Roberts H. Salvini occupies Italian parliament in lockdown protest. in nativist terms when they did discuss it, and when they had Politico. April 30, 2020. https://www.politico.eu/article/matteo-salvini- to make health policies tended to pursue fairly conventional coronavirus-occupies-italian-parliament-in-lockdown-protest/. 10,11 right-wing approaches. 7. Müller A, Yossef A. FPÖ-Anti-Corona-Demo: “Bin kein rechter Verschwörungstheoretiker mit Aluhut.” der Standard. May 20, 2020. Faced with a pandemic, their key strategies, whether in or https://www.derstandard.at/story/2000117615145/fpoe-anti-corona- out of power, were denial and distraction. Denial could be demo-bin-kein-rechter-verschwoerungstheoretiker-mit-aluhut. explicit, as with Trump’s claim that coronavirus was a “hoax,” Accessed June 2, 2020. or implicit, as in efforts to reopen countries before containing 8. Vergine S. Coronavirus: Are Italians losing faith in the EU? BBC News. the outbreak. Distraction meant blaming somebody else, be May 17, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52666870. 9. Freiheitlicher Parlamentsklub. FPÖ – Kickl/Steger: Eurobonds it the EU, WHO, or foreigners, and led to damaging border sind auch auf Corona die falsche Antwort. https://www.ots.at/ control policies as well as the US decision to leave the WHO presseaussendung/OTS_20200321_OTS0010/fpoe-kicklsteger- mid-pandemic. Both strategies undermine public health eurobonds-sind-auch-auf-corona-die-falsche-antwort. Published and cost lives. Both strategies reflect the PRR preference for March 21, 2020. 10. Falkenbach M, Bekker M, Greer SL. Do parties make a difference? A nativist and authoritarian policies and issue framings that review of partisan effects on health and the welfare state. Eur J Public support those policies. PRR discomfort with health policy has Health. 2019;ckz133. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckz133 significantly worsened the public health crisis and in some 11. Falkenbach M, Greer SL. Political parties matter: the impact of the countries contributed to a crisis of democracy. populist radical right on health. Eur J Public Health. 2018;28(suppl 3):15-18. doi:10.1093/eurpub/cky157 Ethical issues Not applicable. 580 International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 2021, 10(9), 578–580

Journal

International Journal of Health Policy and ManagementPubmed Central

Published: Aug 3, 2020

References