Democratic accountability in a crisis: Analysing evaluations of government response to COVID-19 in a multi-nation state



Do individuals hold governments to account during a crisis? COVID-19 has emphasised the multi-level nature of governance in the United Kingdom, but popular perceptions of how these governments have handled the pandemic are yet to be explored. Existing research often suggests that voters evaluate governments on their performance, and that these evaluations have electoral consequences. However, some researchers challenge this claim, particularly during a crisis. We address these debates, examining England, Scotland, and Wales using British Election Study data. First, using OLS regression, we explore whether evaluations of the UK and devolved (Scottish/Welsh) governments’ responses to COVID-19 influence support for the incumbent parties. Second, using logistic regression, we analyse the factors that associate with these evaluations. Overall, these results suggest government evaluations have electoral consequences. However, these evaluations associate with pre-existing (Brexit/national/partisan) identities, rather than personal economic/health costs of the pandemic, which may limit democratic accountability during a crisis.



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