I thank Golnaz Baradaran Motie and the anonymous reviewer for for making some very good and helpful points. In fact I addressed some crucial ones in the latest revision of my manuscript (16th of February).
Most importantly, I now use three types of panel regressions (OLS, FE, SYS-GMM) to identify (in my point of view) much more convincingly the effect of the FPÖ-policy switch, including with the help of district-level fixed effects, as suggested by reviewer 2.
I also introduced a number of robustness checks that address other possible explanations brought forward by the reviewers (political & epidemiological) and refer to more important work on corona populism by others such as the paper by Eberl et al. I agree that there are differing concepts of populism. I tried to make it clear in a footnote that I do not claim that the definition I used (derived from Daron Acemoglu, one of the most important and famous contemporary economists) was the only possible or correct one.
Followingly, I agree that there is much more to say about corona populism both on a theoretical and on an empirical level. Many excellent points are made in other papers that I cite in my revised version. My claim to advance theory rather refers to studying the impact of corona populism (or scepticism) within a theoretical model that - although it is very simple - supports the main empirical conclusions qualitatively, i.e. the model is able to reproduce empirical stylized facts.
My paper is currently under review at a journal. But I will, in a subsequent revision, happily address those points made by these RRs which I did not address so far in my current revision. I hope the practice of making rapid reviews publicly available will survive the crisis as I believe it to be most helpful.
(I also posted this on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Patrick_M_Econ/status/1370302495419928576)