"The rulers did not always get good fortune from their political choices in terms of popularity"

Analysis. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, countries have not been uniformly affected, nor have they made the choice of converging health policies. The political responsibility of the executives has been put to the test to provide appropriate responses and halt the spread of the coronavirus. If to govern is to decide, the rulers have not always taken good fortune from their political choices in terms of popularity.

For several weeks, the political discourse on crisis management has been subject to the daily announcement of a health check. Sometimes more deaths, sometimes fewer hospitalizations. Such figures in turn affect the reception by citizens of the judgment granted to their political leaders. And, overall, the result is clear: the more the health situation deteriorates, the more the management of the crisis by the executive is condemned.

In our comparative and longitudinal survey covering eight countries to date, satisfaction with the way governments have coped with coronavirus ranges from double to double: in France, it is at its minimum level (38%) , in other countries, such as New Zealand (91%) or Austria (84%), it peaks. Significant levels of support are also found in Australia (80%) and Germany (74%). They differ from Great Britain (61%) and Italy (55%), where satisfaction remains the majority although more limited.

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Conversely, the United States (47%) joins France as the only two cases where the government does not have majority approval on the capacity to manage such a health crisis. The rallying time enjoyed by executives at the start of an exogenous crisis has already passed.

Citizens hold their executive accountable

The citizens' assessment of their government's action is strongly associated with the intensity of the health crisis, measured by the change in the mortality rate of Covid-19 per 100,000 people, two days before the start of our two waves of interrogation (March 23 and 24, April 15 and 16). The more the mortality rate increases, the more the satisfaction degrades.

France and Italy, the countries in which the mortality rate increased the most, + 22.2 and + 21.5 respectively, share the largest decline in government assessment, respectively – 12 and – 11 points. Conversely, when the increase in the death rate is low (Germany, Austria) or zero (Australia, New Zealand), the assessment of the executive evolves positively.

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