The data comes from UK pollsters Ipsos MORI and reveal that anti-EU sentiment in Italy is far higher than in European neighbours Spain, Sweden, France, Germany, Belgium Hungry and Poland.
In the economic powerhouse of Germany, just 34 percent of people would vote to leave – compared to 41 percent in France, 39 percent in Sweden and 26 percent in Spain
In order to arrive at those figures, between 500 and 1,000 people, aged 16 to 64 in each country, were polled between March and April.
In addition to nearly half of all respondents wanting to leave the EU, 58 percent of all Italians would like to see their country hold a referendum on the issue.
As public support for the EU has waned amid financial chaos in Greece and the face of the greatest migration crisis since the Second World War, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has remained a staunch defender of the institution.
Renzi has made repeated calls for greater European cooperation in tackling the migrant crisis and has urged Britons to vote to remain in the EU on June 23rd.
But despite Renzi’s stance, the data reflects a growing wave of euro-skepticism in Italy.
“I’m glad Britain is getting to vote, and we should have a referendum here too,” Fabio, a bar owner in northern Rome, told The Local.
“The worst thing we ever did was join the euro – it’s made life so much more expensive and normal Italians poorer; so many small businesses have been forced to close. The only winners seem to be the corporates and politicians.”
This has been reflected in the meteoric rise of the Five Star Movement (M5S) as a political force over the last five years.
M5S is now the second most-supported political party in Italy and has in the past promised to take Italy out of the eurozone should it get into power.
The survey results suggest a potential ‘Brexit’ could lead to a ‘domino effect’ across the EU.
“[Europeans] tend to feel there is likely to be a ripple effect following the UK vote,” Bobby Duffy, managing director of the Ipsos MORI research institute, said.
But Duffy warned that even if the UK votes to remain, the anti-EU feeling among Italians could soon present Brussels with a new headache.
“The Italians in particular hope to have their own opportunity to go to the polls on their EU membership – which lends a sense that even if the British vote sticks with the status quo in June, it will not be the end of the EU’s challenges,” Duffy added.