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Global concern about the spread of the Coronavirus is growing. In addition, worries of an economic and social crisis are deepening – Gallup International Association

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Islamabad, April 20, 2020

Majorities stay supportive of their governments in the fight against the disease and are even ready to sacrifice specific rights.

These are some of the conclusions from the second “snap poll” held by the world’s longest running global polling network, Gallup International Association. The survey was carried out in 17 countries around the world including Germany, India, Italy, Russia, USA, etc. The first wave was in March 2020.

Over the last few weeks fear of catching the Coronavirus has increased in almost all of the surveyed countries. For instance, with the spread of the virus in the USA the share of those who express their worries that they or a member of their family may actually catch the Coronavirus has increased by 25 points. More people are afraid now in Thailand, Switzerland, Argentina, Austria, Japan.

On the contrary, it turns out that the population in Italy has become more accustomed to the situation, as now the share of concerns about catching the virus has decreased by 9 points. It seems that Italian society has overcome the peak values of fear.

People in India (91% agree that their government is handling the situation well), Malaysia (91% up from 77%), Austria (86%), Pakistan (82%) and Philippines (80% up from 70%) seem to be very satisfied with the way in which their Governments are handling the crisis. There is a significant increase of approval of the implied measures among other countries as well – in Germany 75% agree that their government is handling the situation well now against 47% few weeks ago. In Bulgaria the share of approval is 77% now against 60% in March.

The highest share of dissatisfaction with the authorities in regard to the Covid-19 situation is registered again in Thailand – 81% disagree that their government is doing well with the current situation. Negative sentiment has increased by 5 points within a few weeks. The second place in terms of dissatisfaction remains Japan – 69% disagree that the authorities are handling the situation well (increase by 7 points). Public opinion in USA is rather divided – 48% are satisfied with the state measures and 48% are not.
Almost two thirds (63%, up from 59%) of respondents around the world do not think that the threat of the Coronavirus is exaggerated. One third (down from 38%) however still believe the opposite. 4% cannot decide.   With a global spread of the virus and corresponding government measures our survey shows that more and more people accept the threat is real.

As expected in the USA belief that the threat is real has doubled – 72% now, against 36% a few weeks ago. The same goes more or less for Thailand (70% disagree that the threat is exaggerated, 55% before), Switzerland (69% now, 41% in March), Republic of Korea (83% now, 66% before), Japan (79% now, 54% before), India (71% now, 43% before) and Bulgaria (41% now, 27% before).

The increased threat has impacted our willingness to sacrifice some of our human rights if this helps to prevent the spread of the infection.  In March 75% of the population surveyed were willing to sacrifice their human rights until the threat from Covid-19 has gone. This share now equals 80%
The highest levels of readiness are reported in Pakistan (92%), India (91%), Thailand (91%), but also in Austria (86%), Germany (89%), Italy (85%), Switzerland (86%).  In Italy, Germany and Bulgaria the share of those who are willing to give up some of their right has marginally decreased within the past few weeks.

What comes after the crisis? Public opinion is yet not clear. 41% of the population in the surveyed countries are expecting the world to return more or less to its pre-crisis state. However, 45% think that there will be major change with an almost entirely new world after the Coronavirus crisis is over. 14% cannot answer.

Half of the population of the surveyed countries expect relations between the major world powers to become more cooperative. 28% express the opposite opinion – that relations will become more confrontational. The remaining 22% are unsure.

The current crisis also has a serious impact on economic life.  Right now 36% claim that they have lost a serious part of their income (especially in Argentina, Indonesia, Thailand), 28% say that they have temporarily stopped working (mostly in India, Malaysia and Philippines), 15% worldwide claim to have lost their jobs (Pakistan, Philippines, Malaysia) and 12% say that they now work part time.

One third however say that the crisis has not impacted their lives so far in terms of jobs and income. The largest shares in this regard are registered in Austria, Germany and Japan.

What about the role of democracy in the crisis?  17% share the opinion that democracy is not effective in the current crisis. The highest levels of approval for this provocative statement are registered in Pakistan (49%), Malaysia (43%) and Russia (32%). Yet even here the majority do not share this opinion.   In countries including Austria, Argentina, Germany, Kazakhstan, Switzerland and India more than 90% of respondents disagree.  Democratic principles show signs of endurance in these difficult times.

Kancho Stoychev, President of Gallup International Association
“This panic we see, unprecedented in modern times, is a culmination of a series of mass fears on a global scale in the last two decades.  The underlying reasons of that mass psychosis are founded in the essence of the consumerist societies and the way the elites are servicing them.  The situation now resembles “ a suicide of a  civilization “ so convincingly described  by Arnold Toynbee.

The way out of the horror film we live in requires a happy end – in this case a vaccine.  But the major problem is that by the time the vaccine is widely available the economic devastation could be of such magnitude that a much bigger real tragedy might occur.”

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