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Back to Paper Details
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Hoping Against Hope? Pandemic Emotions and Political Support Across Europe

European Union
Quantitative
Comparative Perspective
Public Opinion
Survey Research
Empirical
Member States
National
Monika Verbalyte
Europa-Universität Flensburg
Monika Verbalyte
Europa-Universität Flensburg

Abstract

COVID-19 had and has detrimental effect not only on our health, mobility, social and economic life, but also on our democratic institutions. Even though pandemic seemingly increased diffuse political support in many countries due the so-called rally ‘round the flag effect (Bol et al. 2020; Schraff 2020), this effect is short-term and could quickly evaporate in the fatigue for normality (Riedl 2020). Also, even though national institutions accumulated more support, European Union experienced more distrust in their capacities to contain the health crisis (Amat et al. 2020; Daniele et al. 2020). Rally effect, or the tendency of society in the uncertain or threat situation to gather around existing institutions, is strongly based on people’s deepest needs and emotions, yet some scholars claim it to be driven by anxiety and uncertainty (Lalot et al. 2020; Porat et al. 2019; Schraff 2020), whereas others find positive emotions, like hope and confidence, to be indispensable for it to appear (Feinstein 2020). These questions could be attempted to answer in the context of pandemic, therefore in this paper we will direct our attention to the following research inquiries: 1) what specific emotions drive the rally effect, e.g. uncertainty, fear or hope; and 2) what emotions are responsible not only for increase in support for national governments but also for rally effect around Europe or lack thereof. European Parliament in year 2020 conducted three special Eurobarometers (in April, June and October) to explore the effect of pandemic on Europeans’ (EU citizens) well-being and support for political institutions. Using this data we could tackle research questions provided above controlling for other important explanatory variables, national contexts as well as changes in the effects of emotions at different stages of the health crisis.