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While citizens in the U.S. and western Europe give failing grades to media coverage of the pandemic, the majority of out of work and out of money citizens look up to the political leaders who locked them down.
In two cases, what was perceived as effective crisis management resurrected the low ratings of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In South Korea, President Moon had faced pressure to resign due to political scandals and a declining economy prior to the COVID Hysteria. Before the virus outbreak, South Korea’s economy grew just 2.0 percent in 2019, the slowest since the 1998 Asian financial crisis when the Gross Domestic Product contracted 5.1 percent.
But after initiating an extensive testing program and with only a few hundred deaths from COVID-19 reported, one of the lowest rates in the world, his government easily won the parliamentary election in April.
Chancellor Merkel was also reeling in low popularity numbers before the pandemic. But with Germany’s death toll at only about 25 percent of Italy’s, and by not imposing a lockdown as strict as Italy’s, Merkel’s status rose in the eyes of most citizens jumping from 53 percent in February to 68 percent in May, according to the German research company Infratest dimap.
TRENDPOST: In the U.S. and other nations, the new ABnormal is to give customers entering stores plastic gloves and hand sanitizer.
In Germany, however, as we reported in April in the Trends Journal, the nation’s leading virologist, Professor Hendrik Streeck, reported that after a thorough testing of houses in an area hardest hit by the coronavirus, his team found no evidence of the virus on any surface.
While most nations have imposed strict COVID Laws of Behavior for “non-essential” businesses that are now being allowed to partially reopen, Professor Streeck found no evidence of the virus on doorknobs and told the media there were “no proven infections while shopping or at the hairdressers.”
States of Confusion
For the most part, solid scientific research and keeping economies open have not been the criteria most citizens use when voicing confidence or no confidence in their leaders.
In Italy, despite the economy not recovering from the 2008 financial crisis and greatly worsened since Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte locked it down in early March, his popularity jumped from 39 to 59 percent in a 5 May poll by the Ixe Institute.
There was the opposite effect in the U.K., where businesses are slumping at the fastest rates on record, as we reported last week in the Trends Journal. A YouGov poll conducted earlier this month showed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s competency rating in handling the virus fell from 55 percent in April to 41 percent.
In Sweden, which generated attention for not imposing a hard lockdown, according to an Ipsos poll last week, the confidence level for Prime Minister Stefan Löfven fell from 56 percent in April to 45 percent.
Although the death rate in Sweden is higher than neighboring Nordic nations, it is on average with other European nations such as the U.K., France, and Spain, which imposed harsh lockdowns.
In the U.S., President Trump’s leadership ratings have dropped, with last week’s Reuters/Ipsos poll showing a 58 percent disapproval of his handling of the pandemic.
Now some 14 points behind his contender, Joe Biden, in the race for the White House, America’s mainstream media, particularly CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times, have spread the blame for the COVID Crisis on Trump. And, by the polls, Americans are buying it.
TRENDPOST: There is clear evidence that Sweden’s higher death rate is not the result of keeping the economy open.
Some three-quarters of Swedes who have died from the virus have been either in nursing homes or receiving at-home care, their average age was 86 years old… and only about 4 percent of the deceased had no serious preconditions.
Sweden’s leading virologist, Dr. Anders Tegnell, admitted mistakes were made in not making these facilities safer from the virus, and he made it known those mistakes are being corrected.
The Public Health Agency in Sweden is confident that the softer lockdown approach, which allowed schools below college level; businesses such as cafés, restaurants, and night spots to remain open; and parks and recreation facilities to remain open, will in the long term be shown to be the more sustainable solution.
As we have noted, while the rest of Europe, the U.S., and many nations’ economies are in sharp decline from the lockdown, with millions out of work, businesses going bankrupt, and poverty rising, Sweden’s GDP grew at an annual rate of 0.4 percent from January through March.

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