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.
The article is open access and can be accessed here.
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.