On Sunday 4 March 2018, Italians will get out and vote. According to the polls, discontent with Europe seems to be on the rise, with eurosceptic parties such as the Lega and Five Star Movement doing well. Is Italy falling out of love with Europe? Could we see one of the founding members of the EU heading for the exit?

It’s easy to see why so many are frustrated. Italians feel their country has been abandoned by other EU members in the face of the refugee and migrant crisis. The economy is growing again, but Italy was particularly hard-hit during the Eurozone crisis. Youth unemployment, in particular, has remained at eye-watering levels for years now.

On the other hand, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which had previously called for a referendum on Italian membership of the euro, has said that now is not the time for Italy to consider leaving the Eurozone. The Lega would like to see Italy abandon the Single Currency, but their coalition partner, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, is against such a move.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in by Ivan, who believes that the EU should be worried about a possible “Italexit”. Is he right? We asked Lara Comi, an MEP with Forza Italia, to respond. What would she say?

The sense of ‘European belonging’ is deeply-rooted in the Italian people. Italy is one of the founding countries of the European Union and it is aware how Europe has guaranteed peace and development for everyone since the beginning.

Today, there aren’t any [Italian] political forces that want [Italy] to exit from the EU. What is really desired is to reduce the red tape of the European Institutions, giving more attention to the real needs of citizens: greater safety, support for ‘Made in’ [Italy], and more help to enterprises.

For another perspective, we also spoke to journalist Bill Emmott, former Editor-in-Chief of The Economist. He has published a number of books and articles about Italian politics over the years (and, in particular, has been highly critical of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi). Did he think “Italexit” was a serious possibility?

Finally we put Ivan’s question to the Italian journalist Marco Zatterin, Deputy Editor of the newspaper La Stampa. What would he say?

I’m sorry, but I do not agree with what Ivan says. There is no risk that Italy is going to have an ‘Italexit’. The majority of the citizens in Italy are very much pro-Europe now, because they are completely aware of the positive things that the European Union means for Italy. Most of the parties are pro-European: PD, Forza Italia, and, of course, Emma Bonino; even the Five Star Movement are in favour of European integration, though they ask for some reforms. Only Lega Nord are against the EU. So, I do not think that we are running the risk of having an Italexit. I do not think that there will be an anti-European Italy in the near future.

Will the Italian elections lead to “Italexit”? Or are the majority of Italian citizens too pro-Europe for it to even be a possibility? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: (c) BigStock – Kamira

53 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Stefano

    I can’t wait til we leave this Eu ; vestige of stagnation that’s keeping citizens unconsciously.

    • Jorn Othmer

      While it is very understandable that Italians are frustrated with the current economy, I think it is a big mistake to attribute this to the EU, or to think that Italy will fare better outside of it. Reforming the EU is a sensible agenda, leaving it not.

    • Paul X

      “Reforming the EU is a sensible agenda, leaving it not”…often quoted but impossible in practice

      Brexit happened because of the intransigence of the EU and it’s arrogance believing that no country would dare leave……. the only way the EU will consider any meaningful reform is if more countries threaten to walk out

  2. Aris

    it doesn’t matter what a government wants, or two political parties want, but what the majority wants.
    An exit from the Union is a very important issue that only a referendum can decide and as I know the Italian Nation belong to the pro-European Nations.
    It is obvious that Brexit causes a lot of problems to G.Britain, something which proves that -Exit plan is not the solution, to make Europe better is the solution and Italy as one of the Leading powers of Europe has the power to improve Europe.

    • Christine

      Exit without very careful planning is a disaster. It will throw the uk into deep recession with massive job losses and break up the UK union

    • Kirstie

      Job losses and recession maybe but break up of the union is unlikely.

    • Zara

      Unlikely? How so?

    • Alan

      Union will break up. Northern Ireland will rejoin the republic in a few years.

    • Ivan

      You really need to stop getting your information from the pro EU fake news media, The UK was here centuries before the pointless EU and it will still be around long after the EU has passed into the history books.

    • Aris

      Ivan Burrows i don’t remember mentioning that the UK will disappear after Brexit. We talk in general if Brexit will be positive or negative for the UK.
      And none can answer that question NOW, after 10 years everyone will be in the position to understand if the UK was better inside the Union or outside.

    • Aris

      @Ivan if you have a better solution than EU in order to keep peace among 40 big, medium and small European countries I would like to hear it. Or you maybe think that Peace in Europe, in Balkans etc etc is something granted?
      Look i don’t say that Europe is perfect but it is the best we have in order our citizens to enjoy ongoing Peace, stability, Human Rights, Democracy and prevent Super Powers to spread their influence AGAIN in Europe and split the countries to influence zones that will fight with their neighbor for their Master’s interests.

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      The UK won’t break up.
      If the UK has a recession then millions of EU foreigners will leave and thus unemployment will not be as big an issue as per the crisis of 2007.

    • Jorn Othmer

      @Tarquin I think it is a mistake to think that Britains will fill the positions that the EU citizens leave. This is the case because for the most part, they filled positions for which there was a shortage of candidates in the UK (biggest example: NHS). So the leaving EU citizens will only hurt the economy.

      Recent propaganda haas been very successful in picturing immigration as a bad thing. While a small part of it may be rotten, for the most part it is something that the UK actually needs to supply their own shortages.

    • Paul X

      @ Jorn…but why do you think there are skill shortages in certain areas like the NHS in the UK?

      ..because there is not enough funding put into training up UK nationals for these jobs, and that funding has been cut on the basis it is cheaper to import trained foreigners…it’s a chicken and egg situation, until there is a curb on non UK people filling these posts there is no incentive tor the UK government to increase investment in training UK people

  3. Yanis

    I’m pretty sure Italy is too messed up , corrupt and politically toxic to survive and prosper outside the EU .No offense to my fellow Italians , the comment is about chronic bad governance and not about them

    • Ivan

      Italy may as well try to be successful outside of the EU because there is only more misery for them if they stay.

    • Ivan

      @Federico (troll) You ignore the story and the post and instead use it as an opportunity to insult people ??? There is the level of intellect we have come to expect from uniformed EU fanatics, thanks for that lol

    • Stefania

      ” il cattivo governo” e ” corrotti” ti ringrazio per l’affetto mostrato per noi ma ti sbagli di grosso è giunto il momento che ci lasciate stare in pace , noi sappiamo cosa è giusto per noi e per voi, siamo più forti e capaci di quello che pensi. Ciao

    • Karolina

      Agree with Yannis.

      Any data to substantiate your claims, Ivan or did you buddy Vladimir say so?

  4. Giulia

    No, there won’t be any Italexit… At least not for now. But also, EU should “ask herself” why many wish to leave.

  5. Lino

    hope they’re not dumb enough to vote bunga bunga or the fascists…

  6. Ivan

    Can’t be any worse than stopping in the pointless EU, we will welcome them in the free world :)

    • Jorn Othmer

      You should let us know why you think the EU is pointless Ivan.
      I curious about your reasoning.

    • Karolina

      There is no reasoning. This is his propaganda line. The real reasoning is that the EU has taken away markets and supply of cheap products from Russia plus it has imposed an embargo on it. This is why Russia sees the EU as a threat. It has flooded Brussels with spies the main activities of which revolve around finding out information about the embargo. There is also a multitude of online trolls spreading confusion and propaganda against the EU…

    • Paul X

      The EU is pointless because European countries could get along just fine without it, the evidence for this is those European countries who choose not to join.

      Much of the pro-EU hype is groundless, “its kept the peace in Europe blah, blah”, utter rubbish, Switzerland and Norway haven’t started any wars despite being outside the EU, it’s NATO thats been keeping the peace and to be honest, very few EU countries spend enough on their armed forces to be able to start a war even if they wanted to

      Apart from that, the EU adds no value to what it does, it merely sucks wealth from richer countries and distributes it to the not so wealthy to fund vanity projects to promote itself…… that’s after it’s taken it’s cut to stock up it’s wine cellar and fund extremely generous pensions to second rate politicians

  7. Konstantinos

    Italexit is not a solution. Italy must remain in EU, but the Italian Goverment has to change policy and take a new leading role in EU. Germany cant be the leader Country any more. They dont undetstand the problems of the european south. Stop thinking an exit and act. An exit is a disaster, but we can change a lot in Eu by remain.

    • Ivan

      Germany is and always will be the leader of the EU simply because they ‘invented’ it.

      The EU started in 1944 and not in 1957 with the creation of the blueprint for the ‘Europaische Wirtshaftsgemeinschaft’ translated -European Economic Community created at the Maison Rouge Hotel in Strasbourg on August 10, 1944 by top officials of The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party) to gain economic power in Europe if or when the war was lost.

      Did you really think pro EU fanatics were telling you the truth ?

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      Italy can’t lead itself – why should Italy take a ‘new leading role’ in the EU?

    • Karolina

      Germany will remain the leader because it has the highest population and therefore the highest representation in the EU parliament. However, once the UK departs Germany will be losing a voting ally and therefore its voting powers may be weakened or it may just find other allies.

  8. Nacho

    I don’t think they will mean italexit, because the rest of the parties aren’t europhobes, but I think it will make EU to react and to realize that things must be changed.

  9. Stefano

    Fascist as your mother!! , Italy would be even better without you.
    Booo! Booooo! ..

    • Ivan

      Will you take up arms against your fellow Italians to keep control of Italy in Brussels ? Sounds like you are a 21st Century fascist to me.

  10. Ludwig

    j’ai donné de ne pas une année à l’Italie sans l’Europe avant la faillite totale! I gave not a year to Italy without Europe before the total bankruptcy!

  11. ironworker

    ‘Will the Italian elections lead to “Italexit”?’

    I really don’t know, it’s up to the majority of Italians. If this Union is “so beneficial” to all, why are we debating exists?


    I need some informations.

  13. EU Reform- Proactive

    Only political clairvoyants and fanatics can/will predict what happens on Sunday. Others just remain patient and when asked about the result next week will be dead right!

    Ask me next week!

  14. catherine benning

    Will the Italian elections lead to “Italexit”?

    Italians have a lot to think about. First I would ask myself, what has happened to my country in the last 10 or so years that has made me happy or sad with it? Has the happy been far more than the sad? And if so, why? What has made me so discontent or content?

    Then I would ask, what differences do I want to see for my future, my children’s future and my country’s future? Who will give us this future? Who has had a chance to give us this future before? Did they really make a difference and lead the way I wanted to be led?

    More important, can they give me what I want within the organisation we live? Will they be given the freedom to change the policies I do not want to live with?

    That leads to an answer that gives the best opportunity for finding what it is you seek.

    • Ehab Al-Nabulsi

      Well said

  15. Karolina

    I don’t think so. Italians are very pro-European and their cultural identity is strongly linked to other Europeans.

    • Barbara Miller

      not when I lived there??

  16. Random Guy

    Im pro European, but antiEU.

    I find it very interesting that those who conflate European and EU also happen to hate Russia, despite they are European Slavic large majority. Have more Europeans than Germany or France.

    Those same pro EU types also like to depend on US who is an ocean away.

    ps. I get no pay from Putin though some schizos may think so.

  17. Jean-Jacques Schul

    Europeans do not seem to realize the responsibility of the European Institutions in the current extension of populism. Income per inhabitant in the Mezzogiorno remains far below that in the North despite 60 years of billions of investments by the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB), the latter having being created especially for that purpose 60 years ago. The media are responsible for failing to inform the public of their failure and support to the mafia. The problem is exacerbated by the arrival in that country of the bulk of the Sub-Saharan emigrants and surveys in the UK have shown that the combination of poor communities experiencing an influx of large number of outsiders is leading to rejection of the basic European values. But the problems of the clandestine immigrants is, once again, partly the result of the failure of Europe to use its development cooperation programmes in a proper way. We know since the 1980’s that foreign aid are a failure and contribute to retard rathe than accelerate poverty alleviation. In other words, that Italy is rejecting Europe is understandable and it is particularly worrying that think tanks like Friends of Europe continue to refuse to give the word to other than the established authorities who continue “business as usual”. Best regards. Jean-Jacques Schul, Founder and Chairman of IDAY (www.iday.org). Honorary Director General of the EIB.

  18. Kl

    In what way is the EU “good” for Europe? Economic growth is low ore zero, unemployment high, immigration and low birthrates is erasing Europe as we know it. So- what is “good”? Europeans need to get rid of the protocommunist beurocrats in Brussel and start to work. Prosperity is the result of work not beurocracy and meaningsless paperwork.

    • Barbara Miller

      well said KI

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