GOVERNANCE AND DEMOCRACY IN SHAPING PANDEMIC POLICY. A comparative case study of the Covid-19 response in Sweden and Denmark
The Covid-19 pandemic proves to be a major crisis with substantial effect on our society and thus projects an important area for academic research. Governments across the globe have taken extraordinary measures to fight the pandemic, with restrictions that limit social contact in order to stop the transmission of the virus. Democratically elected leaders face difficult decisions in determining what policies to adopt. Through a comparative case study of Sweden and Denmark’s Covid-19 response, this study aims to contribute to the theoretical and practical knowledge of which factors may shape differences in crisis response among democracies. In particular, the study focuses on how factors of governance can serve as an explanatory variable, and outline how considerations on democratic principles shape the two differing responses. Through elite interviews with experts, public officials and politicians involved in pandemic-related policymaking in Sweden and Denmark, I find that differing governance features and administrative traditions play an important role in explaining the differing responses. Furthermore, findings indicate that Denmark’s response is characterized as 'political’ while the Swedish response is considered to be ‘expert-led’. In addition, democratic principles of rule of law and individual liberties shape the responses to different extents in the countries. Through these results, I contribute to important insights for future policymaking in crisis response and highlight implications for the cooperation between the two neighboring countries.