Name? Giuseppe Conte
Westphalian identity? Italian
Why is he in the news? Despite Italy having the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, Prime Minister Conte’s approval rating has risen to 71% amongst Italians.
Why do we care? This phenomenon of world leaders approval rating surging during the COVID-19 pandemic is not exclusive to Italy, nor has it been unforeseen before. The ‘rally round the flag’ effect emphasizes that people feel more favourable towards the current occupant of the highest office in their country during times of crisis. Specifically, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, and Donald Trump have seen their approval ratings surge to 79%, 51%, and 49% respectively; all-time highs for each leader.
Why should you care? Because the ‘rally round the flag’ effect is not sustainable. Several world leaders who are dealing with COVID-19 cases in their countries are heading into reelection. If history can teach us anything, it’s that in a time of crisis, approval rating bumps mean very little. Depending on a leader’s response to the crisis, saying ‘it could have been worse’ is not a very compelling argument and you might want to take that into consideration when casting your next vote.
Who else cares? Populist and opposition parties. This is their opportunity to gain seats and take office.
Any further comments? All over the world, democratic elections are happening throughout 2020. (Well if they will actually happen…) The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly going to impact how voters feel about those seeking to take or maintain power. We may see political parties rise or fall, causing changes that completely reshape political landscapes.