The Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis has not adversely affected people’s trust in politicians, according to the results of a study done in 15 European countries and released on Saturday by the University of Louvain (UCLouvain) in Belgium.
The study was launched in early March, before confinement measures were taken, one of the researchers, UCLouvain scientific collaborator Damien Bol, said. It “has nothing to do with the pandemic,” added Bol, who is also a professor at King’s College London.
The survey was done throughout the month of March, coinciding with 31 days during which Europe and the world were plunged into a different reality.
That coincidence enabled the team to study a different aspect that it would never have imagined, the researcher explained, that of measuring the impact of the drastic measures taken by respective governments on citizens’ political attitudes.
The survey’s results showed that citizens gave sitting governments a vote of confidence: if elections had been held just after the decisions linked to confinement, the ruling party, or at least that of the Prime Minister, would have received an additional 5% of votes.
The team also found that respondents had greater trust in their respective governments after lockdown measures were taken than before and expressed greater satisfaction at the way democracy functioned in their country, irrespective of the country and the way in which the measures were implemented.
Respondents evidently understood that Covid-19 was a major public health challenge requiring drastic policies and despite the inconvenience, the curtailment of freedom and economic repercussions, people appreciated their governments’ policies.
An even more surprising finding was that despite policy differences, reactions were similar in the 15 countries.
“While England or the Netherlands were late in taking confinement measures, the trend is similar: the citizens approve and support the decisions taken by the various governments,” the researcher said.
“People probably concluded that, in the event of a major crisis, politicians work for the common good and not in favour of economic elites as some may often feel,” Bol concluded.