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Citizens Are Divided Over Their Countries’ COVID-19 Responses

People approve of their government in response to the pandemic. The Pew Research Center sees a strong divided among political parties.

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While respondents in most countries are generally supportive of their governments’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, new survey data released on Thursday from advanced economies around the world reveals deep partisanship and division among citizens.

According to data collected by the non-profit Pew Research Center, the vast majority of citizens approve of how their country has handled the crisis. There was a median approval rating of 68% across 19 countries that their government was “good” at handling the epidemic. Singapore (88%), Sweden (82%), Malaysia (77%), and Australia (76%) had the most enthusiastic populations. Elderly people are more likely to think their government has handled the pandemic well than younger generations.

The majority of respondents in even the countries where support for the government’s response to COVID-19 is lowest agree with the assessment made by Pew. Only about 60% of Americans are proud of the job their country has done, according to the survey’s mean response. Besides those two, only Poland and South Korea have lower levels of support than Japan. Still, the Pew researchers find that approval levels have risen in at least 12 countries, including the United States, compared to earlier surveys. The report’s press release notes that people who have a favorable view of their country’s economic situation are also more likely to think the country’s response to the coronavirus has been positive.

While these results are encouraging, the survey also found that opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic were sharply divided. It was especially noticeable in the United States, where the report authors found that the population is “exceptionally divided” on the crisis.

The United States has the highest percentage of respondents who report that their country is more divided now than it was prior to the outbreak (81% vs. 61%). Sixty-six percent of respondents in the United States also believe the government’s response to the pandemic “demonstrates the weaknesses of the political system.” The international median answer to this question was just 52%.

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A majority of people who support the ruling party (Democrats) in the United States believe that the virus has exposed the country’s political failings, according to the report.

The release also found a 44 percentage point partisan gap between Republicans and Democrats on the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

It wasn’t just the United States where there was visible discord. In 14 of the countries polled, the vast majority of respondents reported that national divisions were greater now than before the pandemic. According to Pew, the median responses to this question in the United States are higher than in the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and France.

Similar results are found in the report: public and official opinion on how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic are in lockstep. According to Pew, those who have confidence in their country’s ruling party or parties are much more likely to say that they have handled the epidemic well. The same pattern can be seen in assessments of whether the political systems of these countries have shown their worth in the face of the crisis. According to the data, coronavirus vaccinations are also seen as “very important to be a good member of society” by supporters of ruling parties.

The Pew Research Center conducted polls in 19 different nations. These nations included Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. More than 20,000 people from outside of the United States were polled between February 14 and June 3. Between March 21 and March 27, multiple surveys were given to over 3,500 adults in the United States.

U.S. News & World Report Copyright 2022