Emergency politics, mass sentiment and the EU during Covid

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During crises, do emergency politics impair the EU polity by alienating Europeans? Recent literature suggests that executive decisions in hard times can spur negative European sentiment, increase polarisation in the public and thus create more problems than solutions. The Covid-19 pandemic offers an ideal opportunity to study this important issue. However, studying mass sentiment towards the EU is mostly constrained by imperfect survey data. We tackle this challenge with an empirical strategy that combines two original data sources: first, we use policy process analysis to identify key EU decisions; second, we leverage Twitter data to measure sentiment. As a result, we can study whether key EU decisions impacted EU sentiment and whether this impact is conditional on the level of EU competence, prior politicisation and problem pressure. We find that EU decisions impact EU sentiment positively and do not polarise it (even among highly politicised decisions). Low prior politicisation and healthcare-related decisions increase the positive impact of EU actions. There is thus no punishment of the EU for acting outside its remit. Our findings have important implications for the politics of polity maintenance in the EU.




Wang, C., Bojar, A., Oana, I. E., & Truchlewski, Z. (2023). Emergency politics, mass sentiment and the EU during Covid. Comparative European Politics, 21(4), 491–514. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41295-023-00330-y

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