The Malta Independent 29 February 2020, Saturday

iSurvey: Labour Party would win by a margin of 10,000 votes if election were held today

Helena Grech Sunday, 24 April 2016, 11:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

Support for PN loses out to Marlene Farrugia and ‘will not vote’ factions

Joseph Muscat’s ‘movement’ Malta Tagħna Lkoll, lost approximately 25,000 votes in just three years while Simon Busuttil’s refreshed Nationalist Party, although it has been able to stir up much of Labour’s troubles, has not managed to sway voters its way as yet.

Instead, a staggering 17.3% of those responding to The Malta Independent’s latest iSurvey claimed they would rather not vote if an election were to be held today. 

This shows that 30.2% of people – those who will not vote and the undecided – is as big a portion as those who chose the Labour Party, at 32.8%, and the Nationalist Party, 29.5%, respectively.

The latest iSurvey commissioned by The Malta Independent clearly shows growing disillusionment with both mainstream parties. The results are as follows:

Respondents gave the PL the highest proportion of votes, at 32.8%, which is only 3.3 percentage points higher than the proportion of votes awarded to the PN, at 29.49%. Sandwiched between the two mainstream parties, ranking second overall, is ‘don’t know’ together with ‘would not vote,’ at a combined 30.18%.

Separately, the ‘don’t knows’ registered a proportion of 12.9%, while the ‘would not votes’ registered a significant proportion of 17.28%. This newsroom provided an option of ‘new party (Marlene Farrugia)’ – referring to previous reports which said that independent MP Marlene Farrugia could be forming a new party. This party, which has so far not materialised, was mentioned by 4.19% of respondents.

Alternattiva Demokratika, although an already established party with a clear philosophy and political will, was mentioned by just 2.79% of respondents, 1.4 percentage points less than Dr Farrugia’s theoretical new party. Lastly, ‘other small parties,’ such as Tal-Ajkla, Alleanza Bidla or individuals such as Normal Lowell were mentioned by just 0.7% of respondents.

Respondents’ answers were weighed against the last general election results to remove any skew among respondents. The iSurvey was commissioned to Business Leaders Malta by The Malta Independent. The sample size was 600 respondents, representative of age, gender and spread of locality. The margin of error for a sample this size is +/- 4%.

In the 2013 general election, the PL was awarded 54.83% of the vote, the PN 43.34%, AD 1.8% and other smaller parties were awarded just 0.3% of the vote.

The unprecedented split between the two mainstream parties amounted to 35,107 votes and a difference 11.49 percentage points, with Labour being given an undisputed mandate by the electorate to govern.

According to the iSurvey, the split between both parties now amounts to a difference of 3.3 percentage points, giving the PL a majority just under 10,000 votes. Of significance is the high rate of those who are claiming they will not vote, which stands at 17.3% – although it is likely that many will come around to a decision by the time an election campaign is in full swing.

Respondents gave their answers at the beginning of April, at the height of the Panama Papers scandal, which would explain the high proportion of respondents who are undecided or are so angry with mainstream politics that they opted for a ‘would not vote’ answer.

When comparing the results of the general election with the iSurvey, it is clear that a high proportion of the 35,107 majority attained by the PL (11.49%) went to those who are unsure, in view of the heavy corruption allegations the PL is currently facing. Coupled with the negative aftertaste left by the last PN government, which clearly hasn’t yet gone away, and with those who feel disillusioned by politics, the ‘would not vote’ option in the iSurvey surged to unprecedented proportions in Maltese politics.

The Panama Papers scandal refers to an international scandal where a trove of documents were leaked to a German newspaper, which show the dealings of Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm which offers corporate services such as the setting up of financial structures in financially secretive jurisdictions.

This leak by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, of which The Malta Independent is an active member, showed how secrecy is a commodity which is bought and sold by the world’s rich and powerful. Energy and Health Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri were both found to hold a trust and a company registered in New Zealand and Panama respectively. These were opened while the two were already holding public office.

Apart from providing answers to the questions, respondents who participated in the iSurvey were also asked to list their levels of education, age, locality and gender. It was found that those respondents with limited formal education are more likely to vote PL should an election be held today.

On the other hand, respondents with higher levels of formal education, such as tertiary and vocational studies (MCAST) were more likely to opt for ‘don’t know’ and ‘would not vote.’ The remainder of respondents in this section of formal education were as likely to vote for the PN, with the lowest proportion being awarded to the PL. Such cross analysis sends a clear message to the PN that its traditional core voter base which was rocked during the 2013 election to give the PL the biggest electoral victory in Maltese political history, have not yet returned to the fold, let alone those PL sympathisers who crossed over to the PN on occasions such as the EU Membership referendum in 2003.

When analysing the results based on respondents’ voting in the last general election, 70.5% of PL voters said they would vote for the same party should an election be held today. A total of 4.1% of PL voters said they would vote for the PN today, 2.2% for AD, 1.9% chose ‘new party (Marlene Farrugia)’, a significant 13% said they would not vote, and 6.3% do not know. The 2% left over were split between those choosing other smaller parties or independent individuals, and those who refused to answer.

A total of 70.7% of respondents who voted for the PN in the last general election said they would do the same should an election be held today, while 2.1% said they would cross over to the PL. AD was mentioned by 0.7% of those who voted for the PN in the last election. Interestingly, 6.3% of respondents in this category said they would vote for the ‘new party (Marlene Farrugia),’ illustrating Dr Farrugia’s appeal to those who had already voted for the PN. Such a revelation hits hard at Simon Busuttil’s party, which seems to be losing out to Marlene Farrugia by inviting her to join public rallies organised by the PN. 

The ‘would not vote’ contingent is made up of 11.2% of the PN vote, a slightly smaller proportion when compared to those who had voted PL but are now claiming they will not vote, while 7% are undecided. The 2% left over went to those who refused to answer.

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