Fabio Bordignon, Ilvo Diamanti, Fabio Turato

The Contagion of Opinions. Citizens and Democracy in the Time of Coronavirus

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: democracy, Covid-19, insecurity, liberties, public opinion

The Covid-19 pandemic has produced the deepest alteration of the democratic «routine» since World War II. The «state of emergency» has generated a series of political dilemmas for democratic polities. Maybe the most prominent of them regards restrictions on civil liberties and the «suspension» of democratic rules. The article uses survey data to investigate the evolution of Italian public opinion during the first semester of 2020, in order to study the relationships between insecurity, attitudes towards institutions, and the willingness to trade off liberties for greater protection against the spread of the virus. The results show that a widespread sense of threat produced a «rally ’round the flag» effect, increasing trust in institutions and support for the government. It also led a large portion of Italians to accept limitations on personal freedom. Nevertheless, this attitude was «contingent» on the level of threat and to the evaluation of the government. Moreover, only a part of the interviewees perceived these limitations of rights as a suspension of democracy.

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