During the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his government enjoyed immense support, especially when compared to their European neighbours. Nevertheless, the Government’s approval ratings have declined over the course of May, June and July. In August, as the number of coronavirus cases reached levels last seen in May, PM Conte’s popularity rate dropped by 4 points to 46%. At this stage, 29% of the Italian public have a negative view of the Prime Minister, compared to a quarter (25%) in July. A further 22% of respondents have neither a positive nor negative view of Conte.
Among voters who supported one of the coalition partners in the 2018 General Elections, respondents who supported the Democratic Party (PD) are slightly more likely to have a positive view of PM Conte (69%) than those who voted for the 5 Star Movement (M5S) (64%). Overall, although Conte’s popularity continues to fall, it contrasts positively with the low approval ratings of his European neighbours, especially when compared to Macron in France.
The approval ratings of other members of the Government declined somewhat between July and August. For example, Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, experienced a slight 3% decline in popularity from 34% approval in July to 31% in August. At this stage, 28% of the Italian public have a negative opinion of the former PD member compared to a quarter (25%) a month ago. At the same time, a significant portion (36%) of respondents continue to have neither a positive nor negative view of Speranza compared.
The Minister of Health stated last week that he excluded the possibility of a new national lockdown in Italy as the situation was “under control.” Despite this announcement, our research indicates that 46% of Italian voters think that another nationwide lockdown in Italy is likely, compared to 37% who think that it is unlikely.
The Minister of the Economy, Roberto Gualtieri, also experienced a 3-point decline in approval ratings, with 24% of respondents having a positive view of Gualtieri in August against 27% in July. By contrast, 29% have a negative view of the Minister compared to 26% a month ago.
According to recent data published by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Italian economy is experiencing a better than anticipated recovery, supported in particular by Brussels’ Recovery Fund. Roughly a third (34%) of Italian respondents think that the Recovery Fund will be successful in relaunching the Italian economy against 20% who do not.
Our June poll indicated that opposition leader Matteo Salvini was seeing his unpopularity grow amongst the Italian public, a finding we confirmed in July. This month, however, we found that 40% of respondents have a negative view of the leader of the Lega compared to 47% last month. Nonetheless, Salvini’s popularity rate has not increased: at this stage 26% of respondents have a positive view of Salvini, compared to 27% in July.
As Salvini’s popularity deteriorated, some analysts speculated that Lega’s regional governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, may contend for the leadership of the party in the future. In our latest poll, Zaia has enjoyed a 2-point increase in approval ratings, from 34% of respondents who had a positive view of him in July to 36% in August. 26% of respondents had a negative view of the governor in both July and August. Notably, half (50%) of respondents from North-East Italy – Zaia’s region – have a positive view of the Governor, who is campaigning for re-election later this month.
Overall, the approval ratings of Prime Minister Conte, and key Government ministers, continue to decline gradually. Nevertheless, Conte continues to enjoy greater support than other European leaders. Salvini remains relatively unpopular in Italy, yet Luca Zaia holds a positive approval rating. Redfield & Wilton Strategies will continue to monitor Italian public opinion as the country prepares for regional elections later this month.