The role of party preferences in explaining acceptance of freedom restrictions in a pandemic context: the Italian case

To cite the article:

Ladini, R., and Maggini, N. (2022), The role of party preferences in explaining acceptance of freedom restrictions in a pandemic context: the Italian case, Quality & Quantity, Online first, DOI: 10.1007/s11135-022-01436-3.

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As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, several governments adopted disease containment measures limiting individual freedom, especially freedom of movement. Our contribution aims at studying the role played by party preferences in explaining attitudes towards those freedom limitations during the pandemic, taking into account the moderating role played by confidence in institutions and collectivist-individualistic orientations. Focussing on Italy, as the first western democracy to be hit by Covid-19 and to adopt harsh restrictive measures, we analyse data coming from the ResPOnsE COVID-19 project. Our study initially investigates whether attitudes towards freedom restrictions are associated with the dynamics of the pandemic and the institutional responses to it. Then, through multilevel regression models, we test several hypotheses about the relationship between party preferences, confidence in institutions, collectivistic orientations and public acceptance of Covid-19 containment measures limiting individual freedom. Findings show that party preferences are associated with different attitudes towards freedom restrictions to contain the pandemic, but this occurs only if people have individualistic orientations. Collectivistic orientations and confidence in institutions are positively associated with acceptance of freedom restrictions, regardless of party preferences. As regards the latter, neither a classical ideological explanation (conservative people more inclined to accept limitations to personal freedoms) nor a government-opposition explanation (supporters of government parties more inclined to accept freedom restrictions) seems to be adequate to fully account for the mechanisms behind acceptance of Covid-19 harsh containment measures. Thus, we offer an alternative ideological explanation by pointing out the ambiguous nature of contemporary right-wing populisms.

Nicola Maggini è ricercatore in scienza politica presso il Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali e Politiche dell’Università degli Studi di Milano. È membro del laboratorio di ricerca spsTREND "Hans Schadee" e del CISE (Centro Italiano Studi Elettorali). In precedenza è stato Jean Monnet Fellow presso lo Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies dell’Istituto Universitario Europeo e ha partecipato a due progetti di ricerca europei Horizon 2020: Sirius-Skills and Integration of Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Applicants in European Labour Markets e TransSol-Transnational solidarity at times of crisis. Si è addottorato, con lode, in Scienza della Politica all’Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane nel marzo 2012. Ha pubblicato articoli in diverse riviste scientifiche italiane e internazionali, tra cui Journal of Common Market Studies, West European Politics, American Behavioral Scientist, South European Society and Politics, RISP-Italian Political Science Review, Journal of Contemporary European Research, SocietàMutamentoPolitica-Rivista Italiana di Sociologia, Sociological Research Online, International Sociology e Quaderni di Scienza Politica. Ha pubblicato, per Palgrave MacMillan, il libro Young People’s Voting Behaviour in Europe. A Comparative Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). È inoltre coautore di diversi capitoli in volumi collettanei e ha co-curato numerosi volumi della serie dei Dossier CISE. Infine, è autore di diverse note di ricerca pubblicate nella serie dei Dossier CISE. I suoi interessi di ricerca si concentrano sullo studio degli atteggiamenti e comportamenti socio-politici, dei sistemi elettorali, del comportamento di voto e della competizione partitica in prospettiva comparata.