Preferences for Centralized Decision-Making in Times of Crisis: The COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany

(with Roni Lehrer, Annelies G. Blom, Alexander Wenz, Tobias Rettig, Ulrich Krieger, Marina Fikel, Carina Cornesse, Elias Naumann, Maximiliane Reifenscheid, and Katja Möhring)

The health crisis caused by the rapid spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) poses enormous challenges to governments around the globe. Far-reaching measures have to be enacted, and even a slight delay can have fatal negative consequences. The necessity for swift and resolute governmental action constitutes a particular predicament for federal democracies like Germany in which the regular decision-making process requires not only time for parliamentary scrutiny but also the coordination of multiple actors and interests at different levels of government. In this context, calls for more executive authority are frequent. This study uses daily collected panel data from the Mannheim Corona Study to investigate factors that influence respondents' propensity to grant additional discretionary powers to the German federal government on the expense of the parliament and state governments. Based on insights from the crisis management literature, we seek to explore the effects of federalized policy responses, trust in government, satisfaction with the government and parliament, and personal threat perceptions on the support for greater decision-making autonomy for the federal executive branch. The results show that, while trust in government before the pandemic has a minor impact, policy heterogeneity at the state-level and individual threat perceptions strongly increase the likelihood to support the centralization of the decision-making process.

Back to ‘Research’