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Italians in trouble with Europe, as majority is EU-critic and 17% undecided

Matteo Salvini, leader of the League, during a politcal rally. On the background the slogan "Italians first" [personal archive]

Italians don’t like Europe and their vote will be against the EU as we know it. The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), the first pan-European think-tank, released its latest publication on the vote intentions and the news coming from the Italian peninsula are not good. The vast majority of Italians appear in the category of the eurosceptics or even of the anti-EU.

The ECFR made a special classification of the European voters, divided in four different groups:

1) “Stark House” or the “Believers in the System” (24% in Europe, 9% in Italy): mainly in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark and Sweden, they believe that the European and national system “functions”. They are financially satisfied and have a secondary or higher level of education.

2) “The Daeneryses”, or the “Forgotten Pro-Europeanists” (24% in Europe, 22% in Italy): Strongly represented in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain, they are skeptical towards the national political system but in favor of European values.
These voters have lower average incomes than all groups and consist largely of millennials and generation X (born between 1960 and 1980).

3) “The Sparrows” or “Yellow Jackets” (38% in Europe, 49% in Italy): in particular in France, Greece and Italy, they do not trust politicians and political systems at national or European level. These voters are around 50 years-old and have a strong female representation in France and Italy.

Looking at Italy, the Five Stars Movement (M5S) can be placed in this category. The party winked at the French movement of the yellow jacket in an attempt of forming a coalition after the next European elections. Apparently this project made no headway, but there is no doubt the Five Stars are here to stay.

4) “Free Folk of the North” or “Eurosceptic Nationalists” (In Europe 14%, in Italy 20%): concentrated mainly in Austria, Denmark and Italy, they feel that the political system of their country works and would like to centralize more powers to national level. This group includes baby-boomers and ideologically right-wing voters.

Once again, looking at the Italian political system, the League can be found here. Unless last-minute surprises, the League will be the first political party at the next May elections. Matteo Salvini’s nature of right-wing man was already described on this blog.

What Salvini and Di Maio really really want

The League and the Five Stars Movement have different ideas of Europe. They both want to deeply reshape the EU. Under this point of view it can be said that both parties are indeed anti-European. They basically claim to be against THIS Europe. Their goal is not to appear anti-European but rather to propose a re-foundation of Europe. Resisting to migration and gaining sovereignty back from the institutions in Brussels are elements of the narrative offered to Italians, who appear seduced by these promises.

Salvini and Di Maio, the leaders of the League and M5S, are basically succeeding in portraying themselves as champions of change rather than nostalgic defenders of the status quo. ECFR’s data are there to prove it. The majority of the Italians don’t like this kind of Europe.

Undecided to have a role

ECFR estimated that in Europe not less than 97 million of people with voting right are confused and undecided, and 30-50% of these people will probably vote (between 29,1 and 48,5 million). These are people difficult to put in one of the four categories as defined by the pan-European think-tank.

In Italy alone almost one fifth of the voters has problems to figure out what to do. Asked on “What would be a good outcome of the European Parliament election?”, 17% of the people answered “I don’t know”. This portion of the Italian society could determine the outcome of the elections in Italy.

A lot will depend on the electoral campaign. Messages, political programs will be key in clearing undecided Italians from doubts. There is still almost one fourth of the Italians who fell to be silent pro-Europeans. Together with the undecided ones, they could form a very important mass to stand for Europe.

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