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Energy security is the main concern for most Italians – above all else

Gas Italy
53% of citizens are more worried about the bills than the Russian war in Ukraine and the country’s international positioning, as revealed in a IAI/LAPS report. However, most are now more favourable towards the EU

It’s all about the bills. A joint survey project by the Italian Institute for International Affairs (IAI) and the University of Siena, “Italians and foreign policy 2022”, shows that energy security has now taken centre stage for 53% of Italians (up 42% from last year’s 11%). Most of the surveyed believe energy security must be the new government’s top priority.

  • This testifies to the impact that the war in Ukraine and the sanctions on Russia are having on the Italians’ concerns.

Moving down the ladder. The second-most important concern is migratory flow control, which 14% of respondents indicated as the top priority. That’s a gigantic drop from a peak of 51% in 2017, the year before the electoral victory of the Five Star Movement and Matteo Salvini’s League.

  • Those concerned with respect of international law decreased from 23% to 12% from last year (possibly owing to the Afghanistan retreat being in the news at the time of last year’s polling).
  • Interest in promoting Italy’s exports also deflated, from 19% to 10%. The figure was much higher in 2019-2020 when the 5SM-League government signed the Belt and Road Initiative Memorandum of Understanding with China.

Relations with the EU. In 2020, 44% of Italians would have opted to remain in the EU if given a chance to leave. Today, that number has risen to a healthy 58%.

  • Most respondents (56%) don’t believe that European unification could be possible due to the differences between States, but that figure has decreased since 2020’s 64%.
  • In 2020, 69% believed Brussels had mistreated Italy with regard to fiscal measures; today, that’s down to 42%.

Italians on Russia… Almost 50% of Italians believe that concerns about Russian interference in national politics are well-founded, while 43% think they are exaggerated or, in any case, difficult to prove. 11% of the sample considered them unfounded.

  • There are clear divisions on the issue depending on the respondents’ voting choices: while 68% of centre-left voters share such concerns, 57% of centre-right voters think they are mere inferences or exaggerations.

…and China. Compared to two years ago, the perception of China’s economic and political influences worsened, as they are considered excessive by a large majority of the sample. Italians would prefer to focus on Europe as an alternative force to both the United States and China (42%).

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