Citizens in six G7 nations losing faith in handling of pandemic, survey finds

By on 10/06/2020 | Updated on 10/06/2020
The survey of G7 countries revealed an “unprecedented deterioration” of trust in government among the British public in May. Picture courtesy of Nick Fewings via Unsplash

A new survey has found that a majority of people across the G7 nations have lost confidence in their governments’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. But opinions vary widely between the member nations, with some 70% of Canadians and just 37% of Japanese approving of their government’s response.

Collectively, less than half of those surveyed (48%) across the world’s seven richest nations now approve of their government’s response to the pandemic – down from 50% in April and 54% in March.

By far the sharpest decline of any G7 nation was found in the UK, although from a high baseline. The monthly survey by polling company Kantar revealed a huge 18 point fall in approval among British respondents, from 69% in April to 51% in May.

All other countries apart from Japan recorded lower approval ratings compared with the month before. While Japan was the only country to show a rise – up from 30% in April to 37% in May – approval rates there remain the lowest among the seven nations.

Canadians reported the highest levels of approval (70%) in their government’s handling of the crisis, down from 74% in April. France and Germany each dropped two points, to 41% and 65% respectively, while Italy fell from 71% to 65% and US approval declined four points to 42%.

Learning from mistakes?

Looking to the future, only half of respondents in G7 nation report having some trust in their government’s ability to make the right decisions on COVID-19, down from 54% in April.

While trust in the government to get it right in future remains relatively high in the UK (60%), there was a dramatic, 16-point slump on this measure in just a month.

Elsewhere, the survey found that 61% now think their national economy will be weaker post-pandemic, while one in seven report having lost at least half of their personal income.

When it comes to support provided by government for people facing a loss of income, Canadians and Brits felt the most positive at 73% and 67% respectively. However these were both down (4% in Canada and 3% in Britain) compared with April’s scores.

Overall, 45% of people in the G7 felt support for people facing loss of income was good (down 3 points) while 49% felt it was poor (up 3 points).

Commenting on the findings, Dr Michelle Harrison, CEO of Kantar’s Public division said: “We see the public’s trust in government tested, so it is critical for government policy to be able to respond to communities’ longer-term needs.” Harrison said that while public trust is being tested across the G7, Britain has seen “an unprecedented deterioration”.

The survey of 7,012 people was conducted between May 28 and June 1.

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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