Bloomberg Businessweek

How German Is Your Government?

Today’s political leaders, from Angela Merkel to Donald Trump, are in rare agreement that the fight to defeat the novel coronavirus is a challenge unique since 1945. “We are at war,” is French President Emmanuel Macron’s refrain. In the U.S., Trump has proclaimed himself a “wartime president.”

Yet, as Winston Churchill discovered, it’s possible to win the war and lose the peace. At the end of World War II, Britain surprised the world by voting out Churchill—who’d led it through the conflict—in favor of the opposition Labour Party and its promise of a welfare state and a national health service. A similar shift from traditional budgetary priorities—such as the military—to dealing with basic health and welfare issues may be in store for the governments of the world.

Even after the disease has peaked, governments will be confronted with ravaged economies, a traumatized public, and what promises to be an altered political landscape. It’s a societal change that will test existing models of government for years to come. “Western economies will be set back by years, and government spending constrained as a result,” says Tim Huxley, executive director for Asia at the International

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