Charlotte Fiedler, Hugo Marcos-Marne, Karina Mross | 2024

COVID-19 and political trust in local governments: evidence from Nepal

In: Political Studies Review, Volume 0: Ahead of Print

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinvigorated debates about the drivers of political trust. Research so far has mainly focused on national-level institutions, during the early stages of the pandemic and using data from established democracies. However, how does this relationship look like if we pay attention to subnational institutions in non-consolidated democracies, and further away from the initial COVID-19 outbreak? To contribute to this line of research, this article focuses on the local level and explores the association between individuals’ satisfaction with COVID-19 performance and political trust in Nepal. For that, it uses novel data collected via telephone interviews (N = 1400) conducted between 25 April and 24 May 2021, during the second wave of COVID-19. Our main results reveal that satisfaction with local institutions’ COVID-related performance is significantly and robustly associated with levels of political trust at the local level. The association holds even when geographical and time specifications are added, trust towards national institutions or expectations about local governments are included in the analysis and the dependent variable is disaggregated to discard measurement biases. The study thereby provides important insights into the role performance plays for institutional trust beyond the national level and in an unconsolidated democracy.

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