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Italy’s Dangerous Slide Toward Euroskepticism

Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013

BOLOGNA, Italy -- Since the beginning of the financial crisis in Europe, anti-Brussels sentiment has been on the rise from Britain to Hungary. These days, however, the European Union is losing ground not only among citizens of traditionally recalcitrant member countries but also, and more troublingly, among those that have historically been ardent supporters. The EU’s relations with Italy, for example, a founding member and the bloc’s fourth-largest economy -- the eurozone’s third-largest -- are on the rocks. Italians have historically been in favor of a strong Europe. But now, crushed by record-high taxes and sharp cuts in government spending, and persuaded by their politicians that bureaucrats in Brussels and Berlin are to blame for all of the country’s ills, they are turning into outspoken euroskeptics. Alarmingly, the elections of Feb. 24-25 threaten to accelerate this trend.

Two surveys released last year, one by the Washington-based Pew Research Center (.pdf) and one by the Italian polling firm ISPO (.pdf), chart this remarkable turnaround. ...

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