Italians’ faith in Brussels has plunged in recent years, but a majority want to remain in the Eurozone and the European Union, a new poll has shown.
Asked whether they still had faith in the EU, 56 per cent said no while only 34 per cent said yes, with 10 per cent undecided or not giving an opinion.
Italians’ level of faith in EU institutions has dropped by almost half in just seven years, from an index of 70 out of 100 in 2011, to 38 points now.
Despite that, 55 per cent of Italians would vote to remain in the bloc if a Brexit-style referendum was held, the survey, conducted by polling agency Ipsos for the daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, found.
A quarter of respondents would vote to leave, while 20 per cent did not give an opinion or did not know how they would vote.
If a referendum was held on ditching the euro, 49 per cent would vote to retain the single currency, while 29 per cent would vote to leave, with the rest undecided.
The new coalition government is founded on Euroscepticism, with The League party still hoping that the Eurozone implodes from within, allowing Italy to leave and return to the lira.
The Five Star Movement, the other half of the coalition, has edged back from earlier promises to hold a referendum on the euro, insisting that for now it wants to remain in the Eurozone.
Five Star voters are divided down the middle over the single currency – 40 per cent would opt to abandon the euro while 39 per cent would stick with it.
League voters were the most Eurosceptic, the poll found, while supporters of the centre-Left Democratic Party, which is in disarray after performing abysmally in the general election of March 4, were the most Europhile.
The poll suggests that while Italians are deeply discontented with Brussels, only a minority want to cut the country’s ties and go it alone.
Although League voters are Eurosceptic, many are business owners in the wealthy north of Italy who export to the rest of the EU and would be firmly opposed to an exit from the common currency.
“Many of the tourists who come here are German and our main commercial partner is Germany,” said Agostino Bonomo, the president of a business consortium in the Veneto region of the north-east.
While many Italians are disappointed in the EU, they have also watched with dread how the financial markets swung wildly in the run-up to the formation of the Eurosceptic coalition last week.
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“We mustn’t forget that Italy is a country of savers and that explains the schizophrenia revealed by the survey,” Innocenzo Cipolletta, told Corriere della Sera.
“As voters, they gave their support to the populist parties but as savers, they followed with trepidation the performance of the bond markets.”