For Italian Political Parties, an Opportunity to Find Common Ground With Youth
This Sunday, Italians will head to the polls to determine the results of a campaign season with more than 20 parties in the running and a large number of undecided voters.
Young adults represent just 22% of Italy’s population. There are 13.2 million of them — 3% less than in 2013. With this decline, they are at risk of becoming an “invisible generation.” They see themselves as immersed in a complex context where their needs are not being considered. To cope, they take a resilient approach to life and the future. They want to be more relevant. For this reason, they are warily revising their relationship to politics.
How are they feeling about their role in their country’s political process — and how has this perception changed in the last 5 years? To find out, we surveyed over 1,000 Italians aged 18 to 34. Here’s what we learned:
Italian young people are unimpressed with their country’s politics – but less skeptical than 5 years ago. When asked which terms they associate with Italian politics, the most common responses were “incompetence” (76%), “nepotism” (69%) and “old” (66%). While these words suggest low confidence, it’s important to note that mentions of all three terms declined by more than a fifth compared with 5 years ago. Other high-ranking terms include “stagnant” (57%) and “confusing” (44%). Among the lowest-ranking: “honest” (4%), “transparent” (2%) and “meritocracy” (2%).
They want better communication from politicians and political parties. Young people in Italy would like to have a better dialogue with those seeking their votes. More than 6 in 10 (62%) say they are not able to get their bearings because there is too much confusion around the parties, programs and movements. They want to know that they are being heard and want politicians to communicate in a way they can understand. When asked what qualities an ideal politician would have, their responses were “honesty” (69%), “clarity” (62%) and “reliability” (62%).
They believe that voting is important. Young Italians show a highly stated propensity to vote (80%), and seem to believe strongly in the right and the duty of the vote. What are their top priorities when it comes to politics? Youth unemployment, the economy, immigration and security/terrorism.
The slight thaw in their attitudes toward politics indicates an opening. Despite expressing a clear need for more closeness, clarity and long-term vision, the declining skepticism about politics is notable. It’s important to remember that Viacom’s international research has shown that more than anyone, Italian young people feel crushed by a system that they perceive as not centered on the valorization of younger generations. Six in ten think they would be better off if they lived in another country.
There is a great opportunity for political forces and the media to seek common ground. In this phase of reestablishing dialogue, young people in Italy yearn for a political system that listens to them. They want politics to be closer to their issues and for their voices to be heard. The political parties as well as the media have an opportunity and an opening to reach and communicate with youth more effectively.