eupinions echo 9 Sep, 2020

Danes Most Satisfied with Their Government's Corona Response but Sceptical About International Cooperation

While most Europeans are happy with their country's crisis management, many see more division now than before the crisis.

eupinions echo Danes Most Satisfied with Their Government's Corona Response but Sceptical About International Cooperation

Every week, surveys from all across the EU tell us what Europeans are thinking, feeling and talking about. In our segment, eupinions echo, we collect these voices and play them back to you. Each week, we highlight one survey of particular interest in a short blogpost and share daily new survey results via our website and our twitter channel.


With over 8 million currently infected people confirmed world-wide and daily new case numbers rising in many countries, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Strategies to fight and contain the virus have varied starkly between different countries. Still, people in most countries are generally satisfied with their government's response to the crisis according to new data by the Pew Research Center.

In total, absolute majorities in 12 out of the 14 countries surveyed were satisfied with the way their government has handled the corona virus outbreak so far. Danes in particular think that their country has done a good job, with 95% of Danish people showing their approval. Other European countries with very high approval rates were Germany with 88% and the Netherlands with 87%, while on average 71% of Europeans were satisfied with the crisis management in their respective countries. Out of the 9 European countries surveyed, the UK was the only country where more than half of respondents (54%) stated that their country had done a bad job dealing with the outbreak. Within the selection of countries surveyed, this also makes Brits the most pessimistic about their own country's response worldwide, just ahead of the only other country with an overall negative assessment, the U.S., with 52% disapproval.

While the COVID-19 crisis has undeniably had far reaching effects on both, societies as a whole, as well as people’s individual lives, the degree to which this is perceived varies greatly between European countries. Notably, the Danes, who were the most satisfied with their country's crisis response overall, were also the ones most likely to answer that their individual lives hadn’t changed too much or not at all due to the pandemic, with 73% of Danes feeling that way. On the other end of the European spectrum, 71% of Swedes felt like their personal lives had indeed changed a great deal due to the virus outbreak. This is particularly interesting because Sweden initially chose a relative lax regulatory way of responding to the crisis, with far fewer restrictions than other EU member states. On average, about half of all Europeans surveyed (51%) said that their lives hadn’t changed much due to the virus.

People were similarly split about the question of whether the pandemic had brought their respective countries closer together or had created more division among the people. In Europe, 44% of people said they were now experiencing more unity in their country than before the outbreak, while 53% said they were seeing more division instead. Denmark, once more, represents a clear outlier in this regard, with a full 72% of Danish respondents seeing their country more united now than before the crisis. This makes Denmark the most positive country in this regard, both in Europe as well as internationally. One the opposite end of the international spectrum, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a full 77% of US citizens see their country as more divided now than they did before the Covid-19 crisis.

Interestingly, Pew's survey also examined the link between experienced country unity and respondents' affinity for right-wing populist parties. In Europe, people who held favourable views of such parties were much more likely to view their respective countries as more divided due to the crisis. This was particularly true for Germany, where 75% of supporters of the right-wing populist AfD party stated that they felt divisions in Germany had grown during the pandemic, compared to just 51% of people with an unfavourable opinion of the AfD who held that view. Currently, Germany continues to see weekly demonstrations protesting COVID-19 restrictions, regularly attended by large numbers of people often affiliated with the right and far-right political spectrum. Other European countries that had similar protests, such as the Netherlands and Spain, showed similar perception contrasts.

Finally, Pew's survey also asked respondents, whether they believed that more international cooperation could have reduced the overall number of COVID-19 cases. In general, most people in Europe agreed with this statement with an average of 62% of Europeans supporting this idea. This makes sense given the continent's initial failure to coordinate a joint response, which led to high numbers of cases and deaths in Italy and other countries at the start of the pandemic. Still, there were also two European countries in Pew's survey where a majority of people did not believe that more international cooperation could have helped to reduce case numbers. 56% of Germans did not think so and neither did 78% of Danes. 

This is not to say, however, that Europeans’ attitude towards globalization more generally has taken a significant hit during the global pandemic. In our latest eupinions trends data, we find that a stable majority of Europeans (57% overall) continue to see globalization as an opportunity, not as a threat. This stands against some of the negative press that the concept of globalization has occasionally received in light of some countries’ isolationist responses to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Having said that, France remains on a much lower globalization approval level of 42%, and Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, has recently seen globalization approval ratings drop from a very high level of 61% down to 56%.

We observe a similar trend regarding EU citizens’ wish for more general political and economic integration across Europe. A stable majority of 53% of EU citizens continues to speak out in favour of more integration across the European Union.

It will be interesting to see, however, how the pandemic will impact people’s preferences in these regards. Much will depend on the political rhetoric and crisis management of individual member states as well as the EU’s continued efforts to find an adequate response to the ongoing public health and lingering economic crisis we face.


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About the surveys: The Survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center in 14 countries worldwide (9 of which were European countries) with interviews over the phone with a total of 14,276 respondents between the 10th of June and the 3rd of August.