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When Catholics turn right: the effects of the Islamic terrorism threat on the fragmented Catholic Italian voters
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2016, 00:00 authored by Matteo VerganiMatteo Vergani, E M Tacchi
Italy, as well as most European countries, has been hit by a wave of anxiety arising from groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, whose effects on political attitudes are still under-examined. This article investigates the effect of the perceived threat of Islamic terrorism as a potential driver for a ‘right turn’ in the Catholic Italian electorate with open-ended interviews and an Internet-based experiment in which voters were randomly assigned to a terrorism threat manipulation and to a control condition (N = 138). The results show that the Islamic terroristic threat significantly increased the support for centre-right leaders who promoted in-group identity and out-group hostility towards Muslims. Implications for the debate about the effects of perceived threat on political opinions and the relevance of the findings beyond the Italian case are discussed at the end of the article.