Distrust In Government Rising Worldwide

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COVID-19 burden leading to more violence at protests, distrust in government

AARHUS, Denmark — In an already divided nation, a new study finds COVID-19 is making a poor political situation even worse. Researchers conducting an international survey reveal the burden the coronavirus pandemic is placing on society is driving more people act violently at protests as well as creating even more antigovernment sentiment worldwide.

A team from the Peace Research Institute in Norway and the University of Aarhus polled 6,000 adults from the United States, Denmark, Italy, and Hungary during the pandemic. Researchers asked each person how COVID was affecting their health, financial well-being, relationships, and rights in society.

“The pandemic has disrupted our normal way of living, generating frustrations, unprecedented social exclusion, and a range of other concerns,” says Henrikas Bartusevičius Olso’s Peace Research Institute Oslo in a media release. “Our investigations show that the psychological toll of living through a pandemic also stoked antigovernment and antisystemic attitudes that led to political violence in a number of countries.”

People are fed up with COVID restrictions

Along with gauging how COVID is burdening the public’s daily lives, the team also asked participants to reveal how dissatisfied they are with their respective governments and if the frustration to causing them to attend protests or act violently.

Results reveal a strong connection between a higher psychological burden due to COVID-19 and people displaying more antigovernment sentiment and a tendency towards violence for political causes. To the researchers’ surprise, the survey did not find a link between COVID burden and motivation to attend peaceful demonstrations.

“We were also surprised to find that COVID-19 burden does not need additional triggers to motivate political violence,” Bartusevičius adds. “It is seemingly enough on its own.”

Study authors describe COVID burden as the total sum of the psychological toll the pandemic is taking on society over the last two years. Each person’s burden shows in their stress reaction to government’s actions during the crisis, including lockdowns, mask mandates, and social distancing orders.


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