Italy’s one-place rise in The Soft Power 30 rankings may come as a surprise to many, given the country’s recent political turmoil. The fact remains that Italy has timeless cultural assets, with more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country, and an extensive and active diplomatic network. Its position as a cultural superpower and its consistently strong polling – a reflection of the global omnipresence of Italian cuisine and its iconic, internationally-renowned luxury brands – mean the country’s score can shrug off weak standings in several other sub-indices. A sharp drop in its Education sub-index is cause for concern, and Italians will be hoping their nation leverages its rich cultural heritage to resuscitate its faltering economy.
Italy’s landscapes, architecture, and lifestyle will continue to draw tourists from far and wide, while its brands and cuisine have stood the test of time. Finishing top in the polling two years in a row is an excellent achievement and speaks to Italy’s enduring charm.
The weaknesses highlighted in last year’s Soft Power 30 persist. The Government, Enterprise, and Digital sub-indices have shown no marked increases. Political turmoil is never a precursor to a strong economy and new data revealed that Southern Italy has the worst graduate employment rates in the EU. Short-lived governments have little time to implement decisive reforms and Italy will struggle to improve in these sub-indices without a period of coalition stability.
Italy’s new governing coalition has raised hopes among Italian business leaders who are reportedly delighted by the coalition’s new pro-European direction. With the country’s Enterprise sub-index languishing in 25th place, Italy’s leaders need to address the growing divide between its North and South. The fact that Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte’s initial resignation speech was viewed 2.5M times on Facebook underlines Italy’s scope for digital growth too.