Italexit looming? Majority of Italians would vote to leave EU as immigration tops agenda

Italexit looming? Majority of Italians would vote to leave EU as immigration tops agenda
Italy has turned out to be more Euroskeptic than previously imagined after a new survey revealed that a majority of Italians want to see their country crashing out of the 28-member bloc.

According to an opinion poll commissioned by Brussels’ Eurobarometer, only 44 percent of Italians would vote to remain in the EU, compared to the member states’ average of 66 percent.

The figure is lower even than Britain, where a majority (53 percent) would today vote Remain if they had another EU referendum, while 35 percent would vote Leave. Britain announced that it was withdrawing from the bloc in 2016 after 51 percent of Britons voted for Brexit.

Italy was also the only country in the bloc where a majority (45 percent to 43 percent) thought the nation hadn’t benefited from its membership of the EU, Euronews reports.

The findings contrast with those published in June following an Ipsos poll commissioned by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which found that 55 percent would still vote to remain in the bloc, despite declining faith in the EU.

Commenting on the findings, EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani called on the bloc to strengthen efforts to convince member states of the importance of remaining an EU member.

“We must double the efforts to prove that the union knows how to give really effective answers to the main problems of Europeans, such as immigration, security and unemployment,” Italian newspaper La Repubblica quotes him as saying.

READ MORE: Italy’s deputy PM predicts ‘political earthquake’ for European Union

Although the report didn’t specify what may have caused such a shift of sentiment among Italians, the ongoing issue of immigration likely played a key role.

The research in fact found that a staggering 71 percent of Italians want immigration to be at the top of the agenda during next year’s EU elections, followed by the economy and youth unemployment.

Fueled by the anti-immigration Northern League Party, Italians have become increasingly frustrated with what they see as the EU’s failure to take its share of the burden in rescuing and hosting migrants arriving from the Mediterranean.

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