Second event of the “International Talks” organised by Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and La Stampa, in collaboration with the Department of legal studies of the University of Turin, and in the framework of the strategic partnership with Compagnia di San Paolo.
Edoardo Greppi (University of Turin), Licia Mattioli (Compagnia di San Paolo) and Ferdinando Nelli Feroci (IAI) opened the presentation of the IAI-Laps (Laboratorio Analisi Politiche e Sociali) opinion poll on Italians and foreign policy.
Pierangelo Isernia (University of Siena) illustrated the major trends that emerged from the study, explaining that Italians are very pessimistic about the role and influence of their country in European and international politics. Ensuring security and safe borders as well as regulating the influx of migrants are their main concerns. Their skepticism with regard to European integration is growing, even though the majority of the interviewees are not in favour of leaving the EU or the common currency. Distrust and concern are the prevailing sentiments. The survey revealed widespread distrust for all government foreign policy choices, and a general fear of immigration flows, which the majority of Italians feel are closely related to terrorism. Also of note is the spread of conspirational thinking as the majority, for example, think that the financial crisis was the result of a conspiracy between bankers and politicians. To conclude, the picture offered is one of “a population lacking the anchors of the past – scared, angry and lost”.
In the debate, Armando Barucco (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) focused his attention on the dichotomy between perceptions and facts. He found it very discouraging that Italians’ perceptions are still so similar to those of 2011, immediately following the worst moment of the financial crisis, when the situation was significantly different. Comparing Italian sentiments and the results of other national opinion polls, Marta Dassù (Aspen Institute) noted that the results of the IAI-Laps research are in line with those of various other southern European countries. Ettore Greco (IAI) underlined the importance of the study and its findings, and feels that they should be adequately taken into consideration by Italian decision-makers, even though some sound unreasonable (such as the fact that 60% of Italians believe that reducing Italy’s public debt is not a political priority). Closing the debate, Lia Quartapelle dedicated her time to the Giulio Regeni case. The survey shows that the political rationale behind the decision to send the Italian ambassador back to Egypt is not clear to many Italians. This is a problem since proper communication on sensitive topics like this is crucial.