Final opinion polls ahead of Italian elections show parties not aligning with voters on Russia sanctions

By John McGregor, translator and researcher on political violence

Italian laws prohibit the participation of opinion polls in the weeks immediately preceding an election. Final opinion polls show that working voters continue to abandon the centre-left Partito Democratic Party (Pd) and that the right-wing coalition is on its way to forming a government. It also shows that Italian political parties are separated from the electorate on the issue of energy and gas, and the issue closely related to sanctions against Russia.

The September 7 edition of Porta a porta published polling data showing a Pd drop to 19.5% of voters. This same poll reported that Georgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (FdI) raised its vote share to 24.3%, while the 5-Star Movement raised its vote to 13.5%. Lega Salvini acquired 13%.

This situation is reflected in other opinion polls. The September 9 edition of Tg La7 released details of a SWG poll that put FdI at 27% of the vote, Pd at 20.4%, Lega at 12.1%, and 5 Star at 12%. The results produced by SWG and published by Tg La7 10 days ago, on August 29, were FdI at 24.8%, Pd at 22.3%, Lega at 12.5%, and 5 Star at 11.6%.

The Renzi-Calinda List, a recent electoral agreement between Matteo Renzi’s candidates and Carlo Calinda’s candidates, supports another Draghi government and will naturally pull some votes away from the PDP. However, the largest shifts across the board are from the other extremes towards FdI. First and foremost, the data shows Meloni continues to win voters from its coalition partners, Liga and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. A Cluster17 poll of Il Fatto Quotidiano published on September 8 gave FdI the lead with 24.4%, followed by Pd (20.8%), 5 Star (14.1%), and Lega (11.3%). Most importantly, the survey reported that the FdI would win 44% of Lega voters from 2018 and 38% of Forza Italia voters.

Apparently 5 Star was the biggest loser since the last election, when it won 32.7% of the vote. Only 46% of people who voted 5 Star in 2018 intend to vote for them again, and 17% of former 5-star voters indicated they intend to vote for Melonii’s FdI in the upcoming election. It is clear that right-wing and anti-establishment voters intend to punish their former parties for supporting technocratic, pro-austerity EU-backed governments, but that is far from the only motive for fleeing to the right.

When polls are broken down by employment and income, the complete breakdown of the center-left labor vote is evident. Less than 10% of blue-collar workers intend to vote for the Democratic Labor Party, while 28% intend to vote for the FdI and 21% for the Lega.

The HDP shows only real strength among a few subgroups of the Italian voter base. From an employment standpoint, the Cluster17 poll showed that 34% of knowledge workers and management class intend to vote for the HDP, giving it the largest voter share among this group.

In financial terms, this is reflected in the opinion polls conducted by the Labor Party at 35% in the highest income bracket, those who earn more than 5,000 euros per month. In stark contrast, it only managed 11% of the ballot with potential voters earning 1,000-1,500 euros per month.

In the run-up to the elections, CISE found that parity issues of highest priority for Italian voters are ensuring that citizens and businesses have sustainable prices for energy and gas, fighting unemployment, combating violence against women and femicide, reducing poverty, maintaining economic growth, fighting inflation, and reducing of income taxes.

With energy and gas prices soaring alongside the rest of the West, Italians clearly want a solution to this issue in elections, but there is little fodder on the political spectrum to satiate this hunger.

The direct relationship between the sanctions against Russia and the energy and gas crisis is clear to Italian voters, as are the solutions, even if not obvious to politicians. CISE reports that 43% of respondents support suspending economic sanctions against Russia, while 57% support maintaining them.

Termometro Politico conducted a survey between August 30 and September 2 asking: “Faced with the sudden rise in gas prices and inflation, do you think sanctions against Russia should be lifted?” In the most accurate answers, 24.2% of respondents opposed removing sanctions, arguing that they should be stronger. 19.8% wanted to keep the penalties as they are. 23.1% of those surveyed thought sanctions were understood in February but should be removed now, while 28% said sanctions should not have been imposed in the first place (4.9% didn’t know or didn’t want to respond).

Where are these voters heading? Among the largest parties, he did not take any position against the sanctions against Russia. 5 Star had an internal conflict on the issue of sending weapons to Ukraine but now it is against sending more weapons. Despite this, party leader Giuseppe Conte said on TV this week that he was proud of the fact that the Ukrainian people were defending and seizing territory in part using weapons sent by Italy. On September 5, he confirmed that 5-Star is in favor of maintaining the sanctions.

Salvini, as the Liga leader, questioned the sanctions and highlighted the cost to Italy. On September 3 he posted on Twitter to say that Sanctions don’t work Because Russia is making money while the countries that impose sanctions are on their knees. He argued that the strategy needed to be rethought to save Italian jobs and businesses.

However, Salvini wants to have his cake and eat it. Even while talking about the cost of sanctions to Italian businessmen and employees, he was careful to remind people that Lega has consistently voted for all Italian actions on Ukraine. He insisted that the elections would not change Italy’s foreign policy stance while “only asking” whether the sanctions were harming the people they intended to do.

While playing this double game, Salvini sought to ensure that voters would not hold him responsible for the fallout. Discussing price hikes on the campaign trail, he claimed that “Europe is jointly responsible for these increases through its green ideological policies, its sanctions on Russia, and it should be Europe that protects families and businesses.”

Meloni has consistently sought to reassure the international community that the FdI does not pose a threat to the international order and has continued to express support for sanctions against Russia. During a television appearance on September 6, Meloni disagreed with Salvini that sanctions do not work.

In this, she is at odds with her voter base. According to a Sky TG24 poll published on September 4, 43% of Italian voters believed it was right to impose sanctions on Russia compared to 37% who thought it was wrong, and 20% did not know. In the right-wing coalition this jumps to 45% against sanctions, 39% in favor and 16% undecided. Among the three coalition partners, the FdI had the highest percentage of those who thought it wrong to impose sanctions on Russia (55%).

Only small parties and coalitions that are below the parliament’s entry threshold according to opinion polls, such as the recently formed Italia Sovrana e Popolare (ISP), have openly opposed sanctions against Russia (and campaigned to leave NATO and the EU).

In February, Enrico Letta of the Pd . Party He called for harsh sanctions at the European level On Russia, he continued to support this position. The HDP 2022 campaign platform treats sanctions and the resulting economic cost as inevitable. It claims that Italy has faced five crises in recent years, among them “Putin’s war and its repercussions on the economy and energy.” The main focus of the entire platform is unity with Europe and the importance of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, the Italian side of the EU’s Next Generation Recovery Fund, which the party claims is an essential part of solving Italy’s problems.

For Italians preparing to vote in the upcoming elections, none of the major parties offers a solution to the energy crisis that includes lifting sanctions on Russia. The HDP has almost no blue-collar workers to support its pro-EU, pro-Draghi and pro-sanctions policies even if it wins the support of the wealthy. The large number of voters who support lifting sanctions are left with little choice on the issue. By linking the issue of sanctions to the EU, the right-wing coalition can still influence voters with its opaque anti-establishment and anti-EU platform, even if this now leaves the majority of FdI voters in opposition to their party’s position. Penalties.

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