Immigration is going to be the political battleground of the next Italian general elections due in 2018. Virtually all major political leaders have hardened their position on borders protection following the new migration crisis in the Mediterranean. Austerity policies and lack of democracy in the EU integration process were the main concerns during the European elections campaign three years ago. Identity issue is now deepening Italian disaffection with Europe by boosting a patriotic rhetoric promoted by both right-wing and left-wing parties.
The fear of an uncontrolled influx of people has strengthened in the last two years while the sea crossing from Libya to South of Italy has become the main access route for migrants and refugees to Europe. According to the minister of Interior, the number of people arrived on Italian shores has increased almost 7 per cent since the beginning of the year. The current 94.000 asylum seekers  are expected to grow to 200.000 by the end of the summer.
Italy is just a transit country for most of them who try to reach their networks to the North. The Italian government has repeatedly invoked European solidarity to cope with reception problems. However, Italian citizens feel their concerns over immigration are ignored by EU institutions in favor of national interests . The main consequence could be the rise of the first Eurosceptic government among the founder countries.
The Left Dilemma
“We cannot welcome them all”, leftwing leader Matteo Renzi said after his Democratic Party had lost June 2017 local elections to the center-right opponents. The party has been running the government since 2013 and it’s under pressure because of the rising number of asylum seekers and the denial of other EU countries like France to open their ports to refugee rescue boats. Additionally more and more local mayors refuse to welcome new migrants  in a bid to avoid unpopularity amongst their communities.
A recent SWG survey  indicates that the majority of Italians (54 per cent) is in favor of a total ban on new arrivals. This percentage has increased by six points since January. Furthermore back in 2003 65 percent of the Italian public considered migrants a resource but the percentage has now dropped to 35 percent. Researches underline that “approval for hard and simplistic solutions are finding fertile and expansive soil in the middle-low classes, in the middle class affected by the crisis and inflamed in its social identity”. They add that “the immigration issue has been underestimated by European governments and has been faced with an emergency approach”.