“How Italians View Military Spending”, Pierangelo Isernia, Rossella Borri and Sergio Martini (IAI, Italy)

On 16 March, a sweeping majority in the Italian Chamber of Deputies approved order 9/3491-A/35 committing the Italian government to raise the defence budget to 2 per cent of GDP. Taken in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this decision strengthens Italy’s adherence to the commitment made by NATO countries in 2004 and reiterated at the 2014 NATO summit in Newport, Wales. The announcement comes after half a decade of increasing Italian defence spending. Having decreased from 1.5 per cent of GDP in 2010 to 1.2 per cent in 2015, Italy’s military expenditures started to grow again, reaching 1.6 per cent of GDP in 2020. This figure is still considerably lower than the UK’s 2.2 per cent or France’s 2 per cent, but higher than Germany’s and Spain’s 1.4 per cent. To understand the broader context within which Italy has decided to renew its commitment to the NATO target, Italian public opinion should be factored in. In this respect, opinion polls conducted prior to the war in Ukraine can shed some light on Italian attitudes toward defence spending in general and the 2 per cent NATO pledge specifically.

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