A sinking boat? The refugee crisis and attitudes towards the European Union in Italy, 1993-2018
The refugee crisis has been difficult for the Mediterranean countries, including Italy. Due to the structural defects of EU regulation on security and lack of coordination among member states, the management of the crisis developed as a continuous confrontation with the EU. This article evaluates the effect of the refugee crisis on whether citizens think Italy’s membership in the EU has been positive and beneficial and whether they are satisfied with democracy in Europe. Applying hierarchical models to survey data between 1993 and 2018, findings indicate that positive attitudes towards EU dropped substantially over the period, and that refugee inflow might have been a source of such a change. The results also point at a polarisation in EU attitudes among social groups, with the low-educated and not employed/unemployed becoming more critical compared to the counterparts. These differences seem to enlarge as the inflows of migrants increase.