14th century the bubonic plague that wiped out societies across Europe, triggered some widespread changes in continent. It is believed that the plague killed over 20 million people.
followed by a disadvantage of labor force, the landowners were forced to raise wages of impoverished serfs. Land Elite also agreed to grant them certain rights. thousands of serfs migrated to the cities during the plague as well. Many became merchants and day laborers. Some returned to countryside When landowners were forced to rent out portions of their lands in former serfs. Here lie the roots of in creation of middle class and concepts of human rights, capitalism, democracy and nationalism. But it was a long process.
Recently, climate change has begun to dramatically affect world weather. This year some saw unprecedented rains and floods in historically dry southern regions of Pakistan, while many regions in In Europe with a wetter and cooler “oceanic climate” record-disturbance of waves of heat and drought-like terms.
intrigued changes in political economy of Medieval Europe because of 14th century plague epidemics, political scientists and economists began research to study the political consequences of recent increase in Natural disasters.
Natural disasters and calamities can provide an opportunity for fringe political groups and mainstream political outfits outshine each other in disaster management and creation vote banks
more crazy ideas in this context suggests that natural disasters are almost always against current governments, who do not have the resources to credibly alleviate suffering of people is experiencing unprecedented disasters because of changing of the climate. But more in-deep research on subject claims political outcomes of natural disasters away more difficult.
Read: AT flood disaster, the educated are to blame for many injustices as it was a tragedy foretold
First, the radical effect of 14th century plague on political economy of Europe was not instantaneous. Second, the immediate political implications of natural disasters don’t always go away against sitting governments.
In the book The game of politics with DisasterTW Kneeland writes that US President Richard Nixon responded quickly to soften the impact of a powerful Hurricane in New York and Pennsylvania in June 1972 Nixon, a member of the Republican Party, was looking for a reputation.elected. New York and Pennsylvania voted for Democratic candidates since 1960. But Nixon still decided to announce a generous aid package for these states. That saw two states help re-elect Nixon in November 1972
According to Niland, if Nixon had not “seized” the disaster as a political opportunity, subsequent criticism against federal government could affect Nixon’s ratings in pro-republican states too.
Fast forward until 2005, when a devastating hurricane hit Residents of New Orleans in Louisiana. The then President of the United States, George W. Bush, was slow to respond to the disaster, despite fact that Louisiana is an ardent Republican state. However, his main cityNew Orleans, is a stronghold of the Democratic Party.
Hurricane victims exposed more anger towards the federal government led by Bush than with the Democrats in- accusation of in the city administration. Democrats made saw for yourself in field. They complained that Bush government not interested in helping people of New Orleans because they were basically black and didn’t vote for Republicans. Since this story has become part of of mainstream discourse, the Bush regime’s ratings plummeted.
many regions in China often face natural disasters that claimed lives millions of people. However, the country continued to be one-party state since 1949. According to the German political scientist E. Hörhager, the Chinese state controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has established an effective way to reduce chances of possible political change triggered natural disasters.
The state immediately appeals for national unity. it begins emphasize “heroism” of people who help those in need. It includes various sections of societies in national story of unity also (temporarily) allows not-government organizations to work. However, any sign of someone frankly using a catastrophe aimed at undermining the position of the CCP is taken for granted.
Indeed, in China, the authoritarian political set-up and maybe use state media push forward story of unity and push out critical vote. But this also a fact what, over years of Chinese authorities developed effective organizations and means to deal with natural disasters.
In both authoritarian and non-authoritarian set ups, natural disasters may either see emergence of fringe political groups or mainstream political outfits may become even stronger. in aftermath of 1985 earthquake in Mexico City – Mexico at that time was one-party state – activists from the periphery of main stream politics has entered city and started participating in assistance to the victims population. Activists united. Then they succeeded win local elections in in city. They are often seen as harbingers of multi-party democracy in Mexico.
Also read: Politics in times of disaster
During the 2010 flood in Sindh, Islamist groups that were mainly located on fringe of society, actively took part in relief efforts. But although it gave them space to build their madrasah in affected areas, their efforts are not transform in votes. In 2013, the majority of voters voted for major parties in Sindh, especially the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), because despite fact what’s popular media concentrated on Islamist groups, PPP-led Sindh provincial authorities government It was more resources at its disposal, and voters were aware of this is.
That’s why one Can again see some top leaders from the board of Sindh partyPPP, active and visible in flooded areas of provinces. federal government also makes itself visible in affected regions, despite fact that high inflation and political instability make it difficult of elimination of flood damage. Federal Government and Sindh Provincial Government also narration of unity in trying to better deal with the crisis.
But main opposition led by former prime minister Imran Khan, in not in the mood for any of unity. Like a hard-nosed populist, Khan creating polarization, because a polarized society affected by severe economic problems and natural disaster are opportunities through which he believes he can slip back in power.
he is the least concerned the criticism he receives for this is. Remember he’s the same person who was voted for on people in Karachi who once he called a zombie. He also politician who managed to save various senior members of judicial branch on his side. However, this may change.
Therefore, it will be interesting to see how provincial governments, federal government and Khan are treated in time future elections for those affected by the floods.
Published in Dawn, EOS, September 11, 2022