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Partisanship and public health: early evidence from Belgium during the Covid-19 pandemic

We investigate how partisanship affects the authority of the executive branch by looking at the relationship between electoral support for the governing coalition and Covid-19 deaths across Belgian municipal districts. Applying spatial autoregressive modelling, we find that higher support for the party in the minority governing is associated with lower growth in coronavirus infections, although the cross-municipality divergence becomes less pronounced over time. These results persist after controlling for median income, population, population density, time and region fixed effects. After ruling out alternative explanation, such as a far-right effect, we suggest that public health measures, even in the context of a pandemic, may command less authority, at least initially, among opposition voters.

Lead investigator:

Arthur Dyevre

Affiliation:

Centre for Legal Theory and Empirical Jurisprudence, KU Leuven.

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Secondary topic:

Health, physical & mental

Region of data collection:

Europe

Country of data collection

Belgium

Status of data collection

Complete

Type of data being collected:

Publicly available

Unit of real-time data collection

Country/Municipality

Start date

3/2020

End date

4/2020

Frequency

Daily

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