Leaving democracy? Pandemic threat, emotional accounts and regime support in comparative perspective

Erhardt, Julian; Freitag, Markus; Filsinger, Maximilian (2022). Leaving democracy? Pandemic threat, emotional accounts and regime support in comparative perspective. West European politics, 46(3), pp. 477-499. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/01402382.2022.2097409

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As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments even in consolidated democracies have adopted drastic measures, temporarily constraining individual freedoms and expanding executive political decision making. In light of this trade-off between public health measures and democratic norms, it becomes crucial to assess the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on public support for democratic versus authoritarian regimes. Following insights of the affective intelligence theory, emotions, and not only rational considerations, are key to understanding behavioural and attitudinal responses to crises. In the article it is argued that the pandemic threat of COVID-19 affects regime preferences by evoking distinct negative emotions, in particular anger and fear. Using original survey data in six European countries, it is shown that COVID-19-induced anger and fear have divergent effects on regime preferences. While democratic regime preference has declined for angry respondents, there is also a message of hope: fearful respondents display increased support for a democratic regime.

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, Filsinger, Maximilian


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Taylor & Francis




Julian Jonas Erhardt

Date Deposited:

25 Jul 2022 12:40

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:21

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Support for democracy; regime preference; COVID-19 pandemic; emotions; affective intelligence theory





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