Jair Bolsonaro – Brazil
President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro is one of the few world leaders to downplay the threat of Covid-19, for example by sabotaging the quarantine measures imposed by almost all of the country’s state governors.
” It is raining. We will get wet. And some will drown in the rain, “the far-right populist shrugged last week after dismissing the pandemic as a fantasy. This cavalier attitude sparked nightly protests and daily media condemnations. They accuse Bolsonaro – who apparently believes that shutting down the economy will reduce his chances for re-election – of putting his own political future before the lives of Brazilians.
“Bolsonaro’s reckless behavior has earned him a position never before occupied by a Brazilian president – that of an international villain,” a conservative newspaper said recently. Another article, the Folha de São Paulosaid Brazil needed a statesman like Winston Churchill to offer “blood, toil, tears and sweat”. Unfortunately, the newspaper lamented, there was nothing like it.
Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro
Mette Frederiksen – Denmark
While many of her European neighbors were looking for an answer, Mette Frederiksen closed her country’s borders on March 13. A few days later, it closed kindergartens, schools and universities and prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people.
This determination seems to have saved Denmark from the worst of the pandemic: its death toll is less than 250 and the number of patients treated in hospital for a coronavirus is decreasing. He also designated this competent and successful politician, who was already the country’s youngest Prime Minister, as the sole national leader. A poll earlier this month found that 79% of Danes thought she was doing a good job, an increase of 40 percentage points from the previous month.
His candid speeches and clear instructions to the nation were widely praised. She even managed to show a sense of fun, posting a clip on Facebook of herself doing the dishes while singing to Danish 80s popsters, Dodo and the Dodos, during the weekly television lockdown. .
Donald Trump – United States
Donald Trump has benefited from a “rally around the flag effect” which, in times of crisis, tends to give a boost to American presidents, whatever their performance.
But while 50% of Americans say they approve of his handling of the pandemic, only 37% think he has shown strong leadership or taken decisive action.
And Trump’s approval rating is 22 points behind that of state governors and a margin similar to that of many other world leaders – cause for concern during an election year.
Democrats accuse the president of wasting six crucial weeks when he downplayed the virus instead of preparing for it. Ron Klain, who led Barack Obama’s fight against Ebola in 2014, said, “The United States’ response will be studied for generations as a school example of a disastrous and failed effort. “
But the president’s allies take the opposite view, praising him for imposing advance travel restrictions on China and Europe and overseeing a government effort that included sending hospital ships to New York and Los Angeles . America, as always, is divided.
David Smith in Washington
Xi Jinping – China
China’s initial concealment of the emergence of Covid-19, just when the new disease would have been the easiest to contain, overshadows everything it has done since. However, his decision to quarantine millions of people in Wuhan, the center of the crisis, was bold, unprecedented, and ultimately succeeded in halting the spread of the disease in China, albeit at considerable human cost.
The epidemic posed a huge threat to Xi’s authority, due to the high economic costs and inevitable governance issues raised by the crisis, and he initially remained far behind containment efforts. However, once it became clear that they were working, Xi resurfaced to take credit for the turnaround.
The country’s international propaganda machine is also working overtime to focus on Chinese support for countries in the midst of intense epidemics, and to muddy the waters about the origins of the virus, in an effort to counter growing anger abroad. about China’s initial management of the epidemic.
Jacinda Ardern – New Zealand
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is good in a crisis. The attacks on the Christchurch Mosque, the eruption of the white island of Whakaari and now the Covid-19 crisis, which has so far left only four people dead in the country, have proven this without any doubt .
By choosing to “do it hard and leave early”, Ardern placed the country in a complete lockdown on March 25. The landmark decision shocked many Kiwis, but Ardern softened the blow by using clear, empathetic language and urging everyone to “be nice” to each other – a slogan now on the billboards of the country. The first night of the lockdown, she appeared in her tracksuit on Facebook live to reassure the nation.
According to epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker, New Zealand’s elimination strategy would not have been possible without Ardern at the helm. “Jacinda Ardern’s brilliant, decisive and humane leadership has contributed to New Zealand’s rapid change of focus with its response to Covid-19 and the remarkably effective implementation of the elimination strategy.”
Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin
Tsai Ing-wen – Taiwan
Taiwan’s close economic and cultural ties to China should have made him extremely vulnerable to Covid-19, but he has one of the most impressive histories of containing the virus. Nearly three months after its first confirmed patient, Taiwan has recorded fewer than 400 cases and only five deaths; its economy and schools continued to function largely as usual.
The Tsai government, aided by lessons learned from the 2003 Sars crisis and having Chen Chen-jen, epidemiologist, as vice-president, has taken an extremely proactive approach. Screening for travelers from Wuhan began in late December, as soon as China announced a mysterious new pneumonia.
On a diplomatic level, the crisis also helped Taiwan to highlight Beijing’s muscular approach to exclude it from international organizations, including the World Health Organization. The global health watchdog did not share an early Taiwanese warning of human-to-human transmission of the new virus, which could have helped global efforts to contain the disease.