During crisis situations, it is a leader that is expected to explain the essence of the crisis, its limits and consequences, and ways of overcoming it. A leader is called upon to reduce uncertainty, explain what is happening, describe the reasons for a crisis and suggest a specific plan for responding to the challenge.
During crises, it is political leaders that are at the focus of attention, as the main decision-makers and symbols for the people to rally around. One of the main functions of a political leader, especially during a crisis and post-crisis management, is to define and formulate meanings.
An effective leader generates a dominant narrative and formulates a paradigm for perceiving reality.
Unpopular anti-crisis measures test the legitimacy of different regimes and the limits of trust in them. In this respect, a high level of legitimacy provides political leaders with the necessary support for adopting unpopular decisions or implementing long-terms strategies. The greater the legitimacy of the political power, the more support it can rely on during a crisis and the more flexible it can be in distributing resources. The high level of voluntary agreement with the adopted decisions allows the leaders not to spend extra funds on maintaining public order and to concentrate on long-term interests. The latter is particularly important in the light of populist appeals to spend all national resources on maintaining the usual living standards and production levels.
Sustainable legitimacy is also required for the current and future
leaders to adopt post-crisis decisions and determine a system of the postpandemic world. Importantly, the current mechanisms of legitimisation
are subject to erosion against the background of long-term sociopolitical consequences of the current crisis and a risk of the emergence
of new powerful epidemics. Political leaders of the new era will
have to fight to gain and preserve power in the realities that require
reinterpretation of two key aspects of legitimacy: achievements and
correspondence to procedures