Protests against coronavirus policies have occurred in all European countries. The intensity of protest varies strongly, however. We explain this variation by strategic choices that protest organizers make to maintain the protest movement. Specifically, we argue that protest organizers pay heed to the dynamics of the pandemic in their country: the number of protest events is higher when and where mortality rates are lower and containment policies are more stringent. At the same time, the number of protest events is influenced by political factors. Despite the fact that civil liberties facilitate trust in government, these two variables exert opposite effects: while higher trust in government and public administration reduces the number of protest events, stronger civil liberties increase the number of protest events. We find evidence for these hypotheses in an analysis of the number of monthly protest events based on information from ACLED, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, in 28 European countries between March 2020 and August 2021.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.