Titled “A New Normal? Impacts and lessons from two years of pandemic in Portugal", the study - coordinated by researchers Nuno Monteiro and Carlos Jalali - aims to "record what happened" during the Covid-19 pandemic and "learn the lessons" to better prepare "future crises and pandemics”.
In the fifth chapter of the study – “Democracy in times of a pandemic: impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the Portuguese political system” –, it is highlighted that “the levels of satisfaction of the Portuguese with the functioning of democracy (…) fell considerably during the pandemic.”
According to the study, “among the countries under analysis, only three others – Malta, Slovenia and Austria – show a decrease equivalent to or greater than that registered by Portugal”.
However, the study points out that citizens attitudes towards democracy as a form of government do not seem to have been shaken by the pandemic, with Portuguese support for democracy still largely overwhelming (above 90%), when compared to other countries.
Trust in government
Regarding the levels of trust in the Government, “there was only a slight decrease during the pandemic (2020-2021)”, contrary to “the prevailing trend in most European countries”, in which this trust was reinforced.
On the other hand, support for a “Government of experts” has increased significantly with the pandemic experience: if, in 2017, 59% were in favour of this type of executive, in 2021 this figure rose to 69%.
However, the prospect of a government with a strong leader, “little concerned with scrutiny by parliament or with the supervision of its performance through elections”, decreased in the same period, from 50% in 2017 to 42% in 2021.
Also indicating that, in contexts of crisis, Eurosceptic and populist phenomena tend to be “often amplified”, the study emphasizes, however, that this did not happen in Portugal.