Activity: Talks and presentations › Conference presentations
Has the COVID-19 pandemic caused shifts in how citizens view constitutional power balances and policy trade-offs? We conducted two survey experiments among 1192 Germans during the first week of lockdown. In a priming experiment, subjects were cued to think about the COVID-19 lockdown. This did not affect ‘federal vs. state’ power balance preferences, but it increased support for shifting power from parliaments toward governments. In a framing experiment, we traded a maximalist imperative for the state to take all measures to minimize pandemic casualties against long-term losses in economic wealth or civic freedoms. Support for this maximalist policy was somewhat lower when traded against freedom losses, but not among the youngest and oldest respondents. Support was substantially lower when traded against economic losses, especially among young respondents. These results document significant initial switches in mass preferences about democratic governance caused by the pandemic. They may also signal looming generational tensions.