Methods for analysing citizens’ attitudes: a hypothetical Italian referendum about the membership of the European Union as a case study

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The European Union is an unprecedented unification project that successfully preserves political peace and integrates Europe’s countries into a supra-national model. However, recent economic and political crises have shown that there are institutional problems that have undermined the EU and lost the trust of many citizens. In Italy after the ‘political earthquake’ of the 2013 national elections, the party system suffered a further shock in 2018 with the consolidation of the centre-right and Five Star Movement as the main competing political actors. In this context, the relationship with the EU has undergone numerous tensions, impacting directly on Italian public opinion and its perception of European institutions. This paper investigates whether and how the ‘exit’ issue from the EU affects Italian citizens, particularly how they react to a UK-style hypothetical referendum on leaving the EU. By analysing a 2019 voter study, it tries to identify clusters of Italian citizens by their attitude to European policies and a possible EU referendum.

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