The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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Opinion polls

Alfred Sant Thursday, 13 June 2024, 08:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Apart from the Labour Party, the most embarrassed by the results of the EP elections in Malta must have been the promoters of opinion polls.  In recent years, their influence had become close to supreme as political insiders would rely on them to analyse what was getting the people’s approval and what was not.

This happened for two reasons. On the one hand, the forecasts they were providing came ever closer to the actual outturn of “real” elections. And secondly, these last had become much less frequent during these past ten years. So to estimate the impact of political desions that were being taken, it became increasingly necessary to consult opinon polls.

As of last Sunday, the reputation they had acquired has had a huge hit. None of them realized that some deep structural transformation must have happened in people’s behaviour and none seemed to know what it could have been. In coming months, how possible will it be for them to  restore confidence in their operations? How reliable would their conclusions be?

Curiously, the problem has not arisen only in Malta, one of the tiniest democracies in the world. The same is also happening in India which is the world’s largest democracy, and for the same reason.



The extreme right has achieved a huge succeess in France’s European elections and made substantial gains in other countries. Perhaps one reason for this is that it consists of parties which when face to face with people’s grievances have no compunction to blame woes on the ecoomic discipline that respective memberstates must sustain to adhere to European rules.

However, this “advantage” that extreme right wing parties possess also makes it difficult for them to agree collectively on a common European policy. As of its point of departure, their position being what it is, they need to start straight off from a commitment to adopt rigid “national” solutions. At a time when economies and societies have developed across a framework that transcends national frontiers, leaders of the extreme right cannot but find it difficult to agree on any one policy. What one country considers to be good for it, will not be so much to the liking of its neighbour.



Surely, many interesting and contrasting features will be emerging from the local election results. They will need to be examined with the same attention as for the European election. Supposedly, local councils are the elective institutions which are closest to everyday life in the community. I understand – from what I can see and hear – that the political parties’ local committees have lost almost all their past character which allowed them to assume representative roles for their locality.  Today most contacts are carried out via the internet.                       

The analysis of “lessons” to be learnt from local council elections had best be done differently, in terms of approach and method to that of the European elections. In the latter for instance, the ability of parties to swing voting preferences from the centre is much stronger than what it could be on a local basis.

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