Voters in Italy head the polls Sunday with political tensions running high on the issue of migration. More than 600,000 migrants are estimated to have crossed the Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy since the migration crisis began four years ago. The country has been even more on edge following the Feb. 3 shooting of six migrants by an individual with ties to the far-right Northern League political party.
Italian voters' attitudes toward migration are likely to be key to this election. Previous Gallup research suggests:
Italians are neither the most accepting nor least accepting of migrants in the European Union: Italians scored a 6.49 on Gallup's Migrant Acceptance Index, which gauges people's acceptance of migrants based on increasing degrees of personal proximity. The index has a maximum possible score of 9. Italy scored higher than the 5.92 for the European Union as a whole. However, Italy's score was well below the EU high, Sweden with a score of 7.92, and safely above the low of 1.69 in Hungary.
Takeaway: Italy is far from the least-accepting country for migrants in the EU or the globe overall. However, there has clearly been a tension related to the issue. This tension has found its way into the rhetoric of Italy's political leaders and manifested itself in violence targeting migrants. The front-running Italian candidates have focused on a largely populist approach, attacking migration in an effort to capitalize on this tension, and it is unclear if this will bring victory in the coming election.