Tom Louwerse, Ulrich Sieberer, Or Tuttnauer, Rudy B. Andeweg
Opposition in Times of Crisis: COVID-19 in Parliamentary Debates

West European Politics, 2021: 44, Heft 5-6, S. 1025–1051
ISSN: 0140-2382 (print), 1743-9655 (online)

The COVID-19 pandemic presents an exceptional crisis situation not only for governments, but also for politicians in opposition. This article analyses opposition party expressed sentiment vis-à-vis government actions and policies during the first six months of 2020. Based on an original content analysis of parliamentary debates in four established parliamentary democracies (Germany, Israel, Netherlands, United Kingdom), relatively positive opposition expressed sentiment in parliament early on during the crisis is observed, in line with a `rally effect' observed in public opinion. Sentiment turned more negative as the first wave of the crisis abated. Larger opposition parties with considerable prior government experience were more positive than larger parties without such experience.