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What’s the Point? Cost-of-Living Concerns Are Most Prominent in Italy
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What’s the Point? Cost-of-Living Concerns Are Most Prominent in Italy

As the world seeks to understand how the far-right has won recent elections, it can learn from Italian concerns about inflation.

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Supporters hold flags for Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party during a campaign event in Rome.
Supporters hold flags for Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party during a final event of the general elections campaign in Rome on September 22, 2022. (Getty/LightRocket/KONTROLAB/Antonio Balasco)

When all the results are tallied and the seats are allocated from the September 26 elections in Italy, a far-right alliance will be poised to take over in Italy, led by Giorgia Meloni and her Brothers of Italy party. Meloni’s party won 26 percent of the vote, compared with 19 percent for the leading center-left Democratic Party. Now, Meloni is set to be Italy’s first female prime minister amid widespread displeasure with cost-of-living issues, along with traditional right-wing concerns over immigration and gay rights.

A recent multination poll of 11 countries, conducted by Global Progress and YouGov, shows just how prominent cost-of-living issues are in the minds of Italians compared with citizens in other nations. When asked, “How worried, if at all, are you about the impact of cost-of-living increases for people like you in the next 12 months?”, 88 percent of Italians say they are worried “a lot” or “a fair amount” about inflation—the highest level seen across all countries tested.

Figure 1

Worries about the cost of living are prominent across all countries, with particularly high numbers in Germany, France, Poland, and Spain. And though concerns were lower in Sweden, more than 6 in 10 Swedes still express concern of living costs, most likely contributing to the strong showing of the far-right Sweden Democrats in recent elections. Likewise, elevated concerns about the cost of living in the United States—72 percent of Americans say they are worried about these economic pressures—have put a dent in President Joe Biden’s job approval ratings despite positive economic developments on jobs and wages.

What’s the point on global inflation? Worries about the high costs of basic living needs affect citizens across the world. Inflation has the potential to wreck incumbent governments, contributing to voter anger and political instability. In the case of a country such as Italy, this displeasure has led to strong support for far-right parties.

Political leaders across the world must pay attention to the cost-of-living concerns of their citizens if they want voters to give them a chance. Above all, this means getting the costs of food, energy, and gas down and off-setting household costs for citizens in the meantime.

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Author

John Halpin

Senior Fellow; Co-Director, Politics and Elections

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