What drives political support? Evidence from a survey experiment at the onset of the corona crisis

Erhardt, Julian; Freitag, Markus; Wamsler, Steffen; Filsinger, Maximilian (2022). What drives political support? Evidence from a survey experiment at the onset of the corona crisis. Contemporary Politics, 28(4), pp. 429-446. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/13569775.2021.2010345

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In times of severe crises, citizens are frequently found to rally-‘round-the-flag – i.e. to increase trust in their government. Drawing on an original survey experiment with real-world information at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, we portray the saliency of rally-relevant issues of the crisis. Contrary to our expectation, this priming effect lowers governmental trust. Mediation analyses show that respondents are more trusting towards their in-group, but simultaneously display less pride in institutions and less positive attitudes towards the political elite, which leads to a reduction in governmental trust. Our study shows that crises do not always lead to a rally-‘round-the-flag effect – it crucially depends on whether people consider their democratic institutions capable of coping with the crisis. Moreover, our findings demonstrate the need to unravel the black box of the rally-effect to get a more accurate picture of the driving forces behind governmental trust during crises.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Erhardt, Julian Jonas, Freitag, Markus, Wamsler, Steffen, Filsinger, Maximilian


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Taylor & Francis


[UNSPECIFIED] Berne University Research Foundation




Julian Jonas Erhardt

Date Deposited:

04 Apr 2022 15:01

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:12

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Political trust; Rally-‘round-the-flag; Coronavirus pandemic; Priming





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