Plurality of Italians Critical of Government Handling of Coronavirus Crisis, But Optimistic Regarding End of Pandemic

June 30, 2021
R&WS Research Team
Coronavirus | Italian Politics
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With coronavirus-related deaths at their lowest level since October, the coronavirus situation in Italy appears to be improving. In the latest research conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, we asked the Italian public about its views on the Government’s handling of the pandemic and the vaccination rollout, as well as about its outlook for the future. 

Overall, we find that 46% of Italians think the Government has not handled the coronavirus crisis well, compared to 39% who think it has. These results mark a negative turn compared to February 2021, when 47% thought the Government had handled the coronavirus crisis well and 44% thought otherwise. These results could potentially be due to the fact that Italy experienced a third wave of coronavirus cases over the spring months, which might have negatively impacted the public’s view of how the Government was dealing with the crisis.     

In addition, a plurality (23%) of Italians think that the Italian Government has managed the coronavirus pandemic least effectively when compared to the Governments of France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. This result might, in part, be explained by the fact that Italy’s mortality rate has been slightly higher than that of the other countries polled. Conversely, a plurality (25%) thinks that the German Government has managed the coronavirus pandemic most effectively. Interestingly, however, 24% of respondents also believe the Italian Government to have handled the coronavirus pandemic most effectively, ahead of those who think the UK (21%), France (6%), or Spain (3%) had the most effective response. 

When asked how the handling of the coronavirus crisis by individual countries compares to that of Italy, pluralities of respondents think that Germany (43%) and the UK (38%) have handled the coronavirus crisis better than Italy. At the same time, pluralities of 39% and 36%, respectively, think that France and Spain handled the coronavirus crisis about the same as Italy. 

With respect to the UK and Spain, these results have changed significantly over the past year: in May 2020, 62% of respondents thought that the UK was handling the crisis worse than Italy, and a further 42% also thought Spain was handling the crisis worse. 

Looking beyond the public’s evaluation of the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis at large and focusing on the issue of vaccinations, our research finds that an overwhelming majority of 72% are satisfied with Italy’s vaccination programme so far—including 62% of respondents who have not yet received a coronavirus vaccine. Alternatively, 28% of respondents say they are not satisfied. This latest result marks a drastic positive turn in public opinion compared to February, when 68% were dissatisfied and 32% were satisfied with Italy’s vaccination programme.

Comparing the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, a plurality (35%) of respondents think that the UK Government has managed the coronavirus vaccination rollout most effectively. At the same time, 20% think Italy has managed the vaccination rollout most effectively, compared to lower proportions of respondents who think Germany (17%), France (6%), or Spain (2%). 

When asked which of these countries has managed the coronavirus vaccination rollout least effectively, a plurality (34%) of respondents say they don’t know. Interestingly, however, 25% of respondents—a higher proportion than for any of the other countries—think that Italy has managed the vaccination rollout least effectively. These results thus point to divisions among Italians when it comes to evaluating how the coronavirus vaccination rollout in Italy compares to that of other European countries. 

Looking at the timeline of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy, we find that the Italian public appears increasingly optimistic. 63% of respondents now believe that the worst of the pandemic is behind them, while 22% think the worst is yet to come. In February, by contrast, a much lower 39% of respondents thought the worst was behind them, and an equal proportion (39%) of the public thought the worst was yet to come. 

In line with this generally positive mood, more than half (53%) of respondents now agree that the coronavirus crisis will likely be over this time next year. 19% disagree, and 22% of respondents neither agree nor disagree. Again, this marks a positive reversal when compared to our results from February. Back then, only a third (33%) of Italians agreed that the pandemic would likely be over in a year’s time. 

Overall, Italians are divided when it comes to whether or not they think the Government has handled the coronavirus crisis well. At the same time, a large majority is satisfied with Italy’s coronavirus vaccination rollout so far, even though respondents are split on how this rollout compares to the vaccination rollout in other European countries. Taking a longer term view, we also find that respondents are now significantly more optimistic than they were in February 2021 that the country is nearing the end of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that Italians might just be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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