The point is that "chiedere'" is a transitive verb and needs an object (a thing, for example, a question). "Chiedere a" or "chiedere su" or "chiedere di" is intransitive and is completed by a person (with about/of/for). Without the preposition, "i nostri cittadini" must be the subject. Siebolt is right.
Sharing a thought as a classmate if I may, in English "What say you?", "How goes it?" (and even "How are you?") have the same word order as the Italian sentence here. But to find a rule, for English, of what the emphasis is I think there will be differing opinions (mine would be that the first word is what comes to mind first for the speaker as the topic). Not seeing it as different to English I feel it easy to comprehend the Italian meaning readily. I hope this may help some learners a little.