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State Capacity and Populist Rule in Times of Uncertainty: Covid-19 Response in South Korea, Brazil, and Turkey

Aydın-Duzgit, S., Kutlay, M. ORCID: 0000-0003-4942-1001 & Keyman, E. F. (2023). State Capacity and Populist Rule in Times of Uncertainty: Covid-19 Response in South Korea, Brazil, and Turkey. Globalizations, doi: 10.1080/14747731.2023.2256567


In an age of “radical uncertainty,” state capacity proves critical for countries to contain “wicked crises” and improve the resilience of societies. At the same time, authoritarian populism has come to dominate politics in several countries. The impact of populist leadership on state capacity, however, remains an under-researched theme. We explore how populist rule has impeded effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic by weakening state capacity. We compare Brazil and Turkey as cases with similar degrees of state capacity but diverging pandemic management performance. We also examine South Korea as a benchmark case combining high state capacity and effective leadership. We show that state capacity is central in managing “wicked crises,” but populist leadership undermines it through a set of mechanisms. On a broader scale, we aim to contribute to the debate by exploring the interactions among crises, state capacity, and populist rule.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article to be published by Taylor & Francis in Globalizations , to be available at:
Publisher Keywords: state capacity, uncertainty, COVID-19, populism, pandemic management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JL Political institutions (America except United States)
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Q Science > QR Microbiology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
[thumbnail of Globalizations final_CRO.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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