While the government’s measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) are still being widely observed, support for the government’s approach to the issue is going down, according to a poll carried out for the VRT and De Standaard.
The poll suggests the population is doing what the government says, but is less than impressed by how they are handling the crisis.
The poll was carried out in April by the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and the university of Antwerp, commissioned by the public broadcaster VRT and De Standaard.
“We started the survey at the peak of the crisis and about 20 days later the crisis was a bit more under control,” said Professor Stefaan Walgrave (UA), who conducted the study together with Jonas Lefevere (VUB).
“Perhaps the urgency was also somewhat gone and people got tired of not being able to receive friends any more. So support is eroding.”
The majority of the original rules – closure of non-essential shops, a ban on receiving guests, closure of schools, non-essential travel disallowed and policing and fines for those who disobey – received an approval rating of 75-80%. The only measure scoring lower (68%) was the ban on visiting a second home.
But support for the measures does not translate into support for the government implementing the measures, and here both the federal and the Flemish government score badly.
Asked how well the federal government was performing, between taking the necessary measures and communicating the reasons to the public, 58% rated them from very bad through somewhat bad to ‘neither good nor bad’. A mere 5% voted the government ‘very good’, with ‘rather good’ scoring 36%.
The Flemish government did slightly worse, scoring 60% from very bad to indifferent, and 40% on the good end of the scale.
Not surprisingly, supporters of the parties that make up the government – CD&V and Open VLD in the federal government and N-VA, CD&V and Open VLD in Flanders – were the least likely to have a low opinion of their respective governments, and the most likely to be happy with performance.
Two politicians in particular saw their approval ratings plummet in the course of the poll, which lasted from April 9 to 28.
Health minister Maggie De Block began the period with a positive rating of 37%, dropping to 27% by the end.
Prime minister Sophie Wilmès, meanwhile started at 53% and fell in the end to 30%.