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Boris and Bibi Ride Coronavirus Pandemic Popularity
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is greeted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street on September 5, 2019 in London, England.
Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images

Boris and Bibi Ride Coronavirus Pandemic Popularity

Walter Russell Mead

The Covid-19 pandemic is, among other things, a test of leadership around the world. For some—Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, for instance—the pandemic has been a major political setback. Others, such as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, have seen their popularity soar. Then there are those like Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who have exploited the pandemic to expand their sweeping powers.

Prime Ministers Boris Johnson of Britain and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel are the two world leaders who have been most successful at strengthening their positions amid the pandemic. This isn’t because they have both succeeded in stopping the spread of the disease. While Israel has, so far, contained the disease with fewer than 300 fatalities at press time, Britain trails only Italy among European countries in number of lives lost to Covid-19. Many more deaths are likely to come. Messrs. Johnson and Netanyahu are succeeding because the pandemic drives home their core messages.

National leaders acquire and hold power in part by offering a “theory of the case”—a vision of what their country needs and why a particular leader and particular program are the solution. In 2016 Donald Trump’s theory of the case was that a broken and corrupt establishment was driving the country into the ground. In 2020 former Vice President Joe Biden’s theory of the case is that America needs a president who will bring “normal” back.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

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