How Do Coronavirus Attitudes Fit into Britain's Ideological Landscape?
18 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2020
Date Written: November 19, 2020
Coronavirus has upended British politics in 2020 but where does it fit into the ideological map of party competition? Recent British elections have seen a shift from economic left-right competition between the major parties to competition on the cultural (liberal-authoritarian) dimension, most notably in terms of the issues of immigration and membership of the European Union. Using British Election Study data from June 2020, we find that coronavirus attitudes fall primarily onto the traditional economic left-right dimension, with left wing voters more willing to make economic sacrifices of various types to reduce infections. However, more draconian coronavirus measures (such as fining or imprisoning those who violate the coronavirus rules) are most supported by voters who score high on authoritarianism. We show that the structure of coronavirus attitudes puts the Conservative government in a difficult position where many steps it takes to reduce infections risk alienating its core economic right wing vote.
Keywords: COVID-19, british election study, voter behaviour, liberal-authoritarianism, left-right, economic values, lockdown, party competition
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