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ECPR Futures Lab 2020

Euroscepticism and Populism in Italy: Parties and Citizens in National and European Elections (1979-2017)

Political Parties
Public Opinion
Fabio Serricchio
Sapienza University of Rome
Fabio Serricchio
Sapienza University of Rome
Gianluca Passarelli
Sapienza University of Rome
Dario Tuorto
Università di Bologna

Euroscepticism does represent a very important issue in Italy. Although for a decades Italian citizens have showed high levels of political support for European Union project things dramatically changed in recent time, starting from mid 2000’s. The first wave(s) of EU enthusiasm radically modified overtime, as an increasing amount of mistrust and an open opposition to both the EU’s institutions and “project” as a supranational polity have become dominant in the national political context. Those attitudes have been fostered by various factors that could be summarize as calculation, community and cues (see Marks and Hooghe, 2005). Moreover, according to some recent literature, the citizens’ position toward European Union could also be conceived as a new party’s cleaveage (see Serricchio, 2014).
Furthermore, Euroscepticism and, in general, the negative vision of Europe could be seen not only as part of a more general dissatisfaction towards politics, but also as a symptom of populism. However, the link between the two concepts remain mostly unexplored.
The paper aims to disentangle the main factors fostering the Euroscepticism among Italian citizens before and after the economic crisis started in 2008.
In particular, the analysis moves firstly on the definition of two main concepts, Euroscepticism (generally labelled as negative view about European integration project) and populism (flows by a contrast between the “pure” people against the corrupt elite, whereas the elite are also European ones) than we aim to describe the different profiles of Eurosceptic voters as well as their electoral behaviour.
So, our work also discusses the elements of similarity and difference between Euroscepticism and populism, both at the theoretical and the empirical level, investigating the complex dynamics between citizens and elites in a comparative/diachronic perspective.
The paper relies on data from ITANES and EES, covering a time-span of 38 years.
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