Under a lockdown, democracies reveal what they have in common with other political regimes: here too politics is ultimately about power and order. But we are also getting to see some of the fundamental differences. It is not that democracies are nicer, kinder, gentler places. They may try to be, but in the end that doesn’t last. Democracies do, though, find it harder to make the really tough choices. Pre-emption – the ability to tackle a problem before it becomes acute – has never been a democratic strength. We wait until we have no choice and then we adapt. That means democracies are always going to start off behind the curve of a disease like this one, though some are better at playing catch-up than others.