Drop in the public approval and trust of G7 governments

The third wave of our study sees declining approval and trust levels of government, with sharp drops for Britain.
04 June 2020
Couple walking - G7 wave 3
Emmanuel Rivière

CEO, Public Division, France

Michelle Harrison
Dr Michelle

CEO, Public Division

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Key findings from Kantar’s research, which took place between 28 May and 1 June, include: 

  • Overall approval of and trust in government has declined with significant country differences. Across the G7, less than half of people (48%) approve of their government’s response to the pandemic, compared to 50% who said the same in April, 54% in March. All countries except Japan (37%, +7) saw approval fall from April: Canada 70% (-4), Germany 65% (-2), Italy 65% (-6), US 42% (-4), France 41% (-2), with Britain seeing an 18 point drop in approval from April to 51%
  • Just half (50%, -4) of people in the G7 say that to some extent, they trust their government to make the right decisions in the future based on their response to the coronavirus outbreak. Notably, whilst recognising trust to some extent in government is expressed by a 60% majority in Britain, it has nonetheless plummeted from April by a 16-point drop
  • 61% across G7 think that their national economy will be a bit/much weaker than before the coronavirus outbreak
  • One in seven (14%, -2) report having lost half their personal income or more
  • Over half (52%) say they would use a contact-tracing app to alert users when they have been in contact with someone infected with coronavirus. Of those who wouldn’t use an app, concerns over privacy is the biggest barrier to adoption (62%).

Rating of government performance

As governments begin to change lockdown restrictions at differing paces, fewer people now say that their government has got the balance right between protecting the economy and protecting people’s health compared to April (27%, -6).

39% (+3) think that too much emphasis is being placed on protecting the economy and not enough on protecting people’s health and 22% (+3) believe government is emphasising health too much over the economy.

  • Government provision of PPE and tests to screen suspected cases are rated as very/fairly good by just half of people (51% each)
  • 44% of people rate the international cooperation between countries as very/fairly good, a fall from 51% in April who said the same
  • In contrast, 50% of people in Britain, France, Germany and Italy think that the cooperation between European countries is very/fairly good, similar to 51% in April.

Impact on personal finances

  • 37% report that coronavirus has impacted their personal income already (no change). A further 30% report that they expect it to in the future (-5).
  • Of the people who report a loss to personal income, 39% (-5) report a loss of half or more. This equates to 14% (-2) of people in the G7.
  • 45% (-3) of people in the G7 rate the support provided by their government for people facing a loss of income as very or fairly good while 49% (+3) rate the support as very or fairly poor.  Ratings are most positive in Canada (73%, -4) and Great Britain (67%, -3).
  • Similarly, 41% (-4) rate government performance at supporting businesses who face closure and income losses as fairly or very good, compared to 50% (+3) who rate it poorly.

Interventions to protect against the virus

  • Three quarters of people (75%, +23), say they now wear masks – but only one in three (35%, +15) people in Britain state they are doing so.
  • Whilst some of the countries in the G7 are at different stages of launching any kind of contact-tracing app to track outbreaks of the virus, 52% of people say they would be fairly/very likely to use an app. People in Britain (63%) and Italy (58%) are most likely to say they would use it.
  • Of those who say they would be fairly/very unlikely to use this kind of app, concerns about privacy are the biggest concern (62%), followed by not wanting government to track their location (52%) and not thinking it would be effective (34%). Concerns about privacy are highest in the US (73%) and Canada (68%).
  • Looking to longer term interventions to protect themselves, seven in ten (71%) people say they would definitely/probably have a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available.

Role of climate change

  • One in three people (33%) think that following the coronavirus outbreak, actions to address climate change should be more of a priority for governments. This is highest in Italy (48%) and lowest in Japan (11%).

A view of life post-lockdown

  • One in three (31%) say that they will use public transport less than before, when lockdown restrictions are over. This is highest in Italy (40%), Japan (39%) and Britain (38%).
  • Half of workers (48%) are very/fairly comfortable about returning to their place of work when they are able to, but one in three (33%) are not very/not at all comfortable to do so.
  • A third of workers (34%) say they will work from home a bit/a lot more once lockdown ends, compared to their working schedule before the pandemic.
  • Four in ten (40%) of those with children say they are not very/not at all comfortable with sending their children back to school when schools reopen. 35% are very/fairly comfortable.
  • Four in ten (40%) say that even when it is safe to do so, they will visit restaurants and cafes a bit or much less often than before the pandemic. 36% say the same of pubs and bars, major cultural events and cinemas.
  • Just over one in ten (12%) expect a return to normality by July/August, with a further 68% expecting it to take longer.

Commenting on the findings of research of over 7,000 people, Dr Michelle Harrison, CEO of Kantar’s Public division observed: “As societies begin to transition to the ‘new normal’, it is crucial to understand the changing norms and the ongoing economic impacts felt in people’s homes and businesses. 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.

“In this stage of the crisis, we can now see the confirmation of the extent of the economic impact across the G7. This programme of work is showing the public’s trust being tested across the G7, but, for Britain, an unprecedented deterioration. We also now can see the ‘new norms’ emerging around behaviour change, the public’s willingness to maintain them, and the cultural differences between nations. This is an important and sobering analysis”.


Notes to editors

Additional findings and methodology:

Trust of media

  • TV news remains stated as the most trusted source of reliable information about the virus in Japan (42%, -4), Germany (28%, -5) and Britain (25%, -3).
  • In France (31%, +9), Italy (29%, +11) and the US (34%, +3), doctor or healthcare provider is the most trusted.   
  • Unlike previous waves of research, government and politicians are no longer listed as the most trusted source of information in any of the G7 nations, although in Britain almost one in four (23%, -5) state that it is their most trusted source, compared to G7 average of 11% (-2)

How different population groups are experiencing the pandemic

  • Older people are more likely to think that the government have got the balance right between protecting the economy and people’s health. 32% of 55-64-year old’s and 33% of 65 and over so, compared to 19% of 16-34-year old’s.
  • Younger people are more likely to say they would use a contact-tracing app – with 62% saying they would be very or fairly likely to do so of 16-24-year old’s saying so, compared to 47% of 55-64-year old’s and 48% of 65 and over
  • Younger people are less likely to say they wear a mask – 68% of 16 – 24-year old’s, 67% of 25-34 compared to 81% of 55-64 and 84% 65 and over

Behavioural shifts in the post-COVID environment

  • Younger people are more likely to say they will use public transport less than before when lockdown restrictions end. 39% of 16-24 years old’s say so compared to 28% of those aged 55 and over say they will be likely to use public transport less than before the coronavirus outbreak.

Beyond the health and economy of their country

  • 35% of people in the G7 state that community cohesion in their country will be much/a bit stronger when the coronavirus outbreak is over. This is highest in Britain (43%), Germany (37%) and the US (37%). 29% of people think that community cohesion in their country will be a bit/much weaker. People in Italy are most likely to say this (39%).
  • 37% of people in the G7 think that once the coronavirus outbreak is over, their country’s international reputation will be a bit/much weaker. This is highest in the US (47%), Italy (41%) and the UK (38%).

International cooperation?

  • 50% (-2) of the European Union G7 citizens trust the European Union to make the right decisions in the future, based on their response to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • 40% (-3) of European citizen think that the European Union will be weaker when the outbreak is over, compared to 17% (-2) who say stronger, 33% (+6) who say the same as before and 10% (-1) who answered don’t know.


Methodological information

The survey data can be found here. 

A total of 7,012 interviews were conducted online among adults (16+) living in the G7 nations of Canada (1,003), France (1,001), Germany (1,001), Italy (1,003), Japan (1,003), Great Britain (1,000) and the USA (1,001) between the 28th May and 1st June 2020. Interviews were conducted online using a number of access panels to source the sample.

The data was weighted to match population totals for age, gender and education for each country. For the results across all G7 nations – the countries have been weighted according to their population sizes.

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