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NEWS | Sunday, 30 December 2007

MaltaToday: A year of surveys

Charlot Zahra gives an overview of the various surveys conducted by MaltaToday dealing with different topics which were top on the national agenda, ranging from divorce and same-sex marriages to Gozo and the far right

The MaltaToday survey in January, just two days after his inauguration as Malta’s new Archbishop on January 26, found that Mgr Pawlu Cremona faces a country that is evenly split on the issue of divorce.
For the first time ever, an opinion poll shows those favouring the introduction of divorce at par with those opposing it. While a slight majority of 50.4 per cent are opposed to the introduction of divorce, 49.6 per cent favour its introduction, at least in certain cases.
A clear pro-divorce majority already exists among respondents aged below 55 years of age. But among those over 55, 62 per cent of respondents oppose divorce and manage to tilt the balance against its introduction.
The last survey on the issue, published in January 2005, showed 54.6 per cent opposed to divorce and 42.5 per cent supporting its introduction. The 1999 European Values Studies showed 56 per cent opposed to divorce.
Asked whether divorce should be introduced, 28.1 per cent replied with an outright yes while 21.5 per cent said divorce should be introduced in certain circumstances.
The survey shows that the Maltese have very strong convictions on the subject, to the extent that none of the survey’s 300 respondents were undecided on this issue. In the 2005 survey only three per cent were undecided.
The result also reflects concern on the growing number of separations with two out of every 5 respondents (40 per cent) claiming that they have a relative who has experienced marital separation.

Gay marriages
MaltaToday’s March survey showed that younger people have a completely different view when it comes to gay marriages. With 54 per cent of respondents aged 34 and under favouring legislating gay marriages, over 82 per cent of those aged over 55 oppose such a measure, a MaltaToday survey reveals.
Overall, only 29 per cent support the introduction of gay marriages. These include six per cent who specified that they favour gay marriages but disagree with gay adoption rights.
The prevalence of liberal opinions among the younger age groups seems to point towards a radical break with tradition in the near future.
Labour respondents are more favourable to gay marriages than Nationalist respondents. While only 33 per cent of respondents who had voted MLP in 2003 favour gay marriages, only 14 per cent of PN voters have the same opinion. As in the case of divorce, Labour voters show a more secular attitude.
10 per cent of respondents claim that they have a relative living with a same sex partner. This could be resulting in a greater understanding of problems encountered by gay people in their daily lives.
Yet although gay marriages remain a taboo for older respondents, over all most respondents are in favour of recognising same-sex partners by giving them a number of rights normally enjoyed by married couples. Nearly half the number of respondents favour granting gay couples the right to inherit each other automatically in case one of them dies without leaving a will.

Rate the Minister
MaltaToday’s April “Rate The Minister” survey showed that Environment Minister George Pullicino was the biggest dipper in this poll. Pullicino’s popularity slipped by seven per cent in the past nine months and by an astounding 17 per cent since September 2005.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Lawrance Gonzi, rated specifically on his role as Minister of Finance, has made the greatest gains since July 2006: a sign of recognition for his role in reducing the country’s deficit.
Gonzi’s approval rating as Finance Minister has risen by 9.5 per cent in the past nine months. As a result of these gains the Prime Minister has climbed from eleventh to fifth place in the ministers’ popularity chart.
Most significantly, Gonzi as Finance Minister has seen his approval rating soar by seven per cent among undecided voters, and by six per cent among Labour voters. And for the first time, Gonzi emerges as the most popular minister among PN voters, an indication that the party is now rallying behind its leader.
Riding high on the Smart City project and the promise of 5,600 jobs, Minister Austin Gatt emerges as the other high flier in the survey, with his popularity rising by seven per cent since July 2007.
Gatt was unscathed by criticism that land earmarked for real estate will be handed to the Dubai investors at a very cheap price.
Back in September 2005, Gatt emerged as the least popular Minister. Now he is almost at par with the Prime Minister in fifth place.

The emergence of the far right
In June, MaltaToday’s survey showed that the Maltese extremists from the far right may no longer be treated as a sick joke. A lack of political and moral leadership against racism and the glamorisation of the far right by sections of the media have paid back, with 25 per cent of respondents expressing “some” form of agreement with Norman Lowell’s racist credo.
With just under 7 per cent (6.6 per cent) of respondents seriously considering voting for either one of the two Maltese far right movements, the Maltese far right has become an electoral reality.
4.8 per cent of respondents would seriously consider voting for Norman Lowell’s movement while 4.7 would seriously consider voting for Martin Degiorgio’s Alleanza Nazzjonali Republikana if these two movements contest the next general election.
The total sum of respondents seriously considering voting for either of the two far right movements amounts to 6.6 per cent. 4.8 per cent of respondents would seriously consider voting for Norman Lowell’s movement while 4.7 would seriously consider voting for Martin Degiorgio’s Alleanza Nazzjonali Republikana if these two movements contest the next general election.
The total sum of respondents seriously considering voting for either of the two far right movements amounts to 6.6 per cent.
Moreover, Josie Muscat’s Republican Party, which was launched on June 9, had already attracting 4.7 per cent of the vote.

Our sister island
In August, MaltaToday’s traditional survey on Gozo said that the PN has lost 10.2 per cent to the opposition parties in Gozo, with both Labour and Alternattiva gaining 5.1 per cent from the PN’s pool of votes in the 2003 election.
On the other hand the MLP only loses 1.8 per cent of its 2003 vote pool to the PN.
For this survey, 300 Gozitan respondents randomly chosen from the directory were asked how they would vote in a forthcoming election and how they had voted back in 2003.
The survey shows the MLP trailing the PN by just five per cent in this traditionally PN leaning region – a much narrower margin than the 18 per cent margin separating the two parties in the 2003 general elections.
The survey also showed that Josie Muscat’s new party Azzjoni Nazzjonali had not left a mark on the Gozitan electorate. Despite the PN’s losses, Gozo Minister Giovanna Debono was still trusted by 53 per cent of Gozitans.

Making ends meet
In September, MaltaToday’s survey indicated one-third of the Maltese say they are not earning enough money to cope by the end of the month.
A good 41 per cent of respondents say they earn just enough to make ends meet throughout the month, while only 26 per cent claim to have enough cash saved for their future.
The survey shows that not everyone is passing through a hard time. There are 21 per cent who can afford to eat out in a hotel or restaurant more than once a week, and another 21 per cent who can afford to take their summer holiday abroad.
The MaltaToday survey shows that only 28 per cent believe that the economic situation is actually improving and that 32 per cent do not make ends meet by the end of the month.
Despite various signs of growth especially in the tourism sector, 39 per cent believe that the Maltese economic situation is actually deteriorating rather than improving as official statistics show.
Indicatively, respondents who have not yet made their mind on who to vote for in the forthcoming election still do not believe the official mantra that the economy is getting any better.
While 38 per cent of politically undecided respondents think that the economic situation is deteriorating, only 23 per cent believe it is improving.

The 2008 Budget
In November, the MaltaToday survey about the 2008 Budget presented by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi showed that 62.7 per cent of respondents judged the budget to have affected them positively, 25 per cent said that it affected them negatively and 12.3 per cent said they did not know.
Out of MLP voters, only 35 per cent said the budget affected them positively, 50.5 per cent said the budget affected them negatively, while 14.1 per cent said they did not know.
On the other hand, among PN voters, a staggering 91.1 per cent responded that the budget affected them positively, only 2.3 per cent said that the budget affected them negatively, while 6.7 per cent said they did not know.
60 per cent of respondents said that the budget affected the country positively, 22 per cent said that the budget affected the country negatively, while 18 per cent said that they did not know.
However, a majority of respondents (70.3 per cent) said that the budget was a generous one because the election is coming soon, with only 23.3 per cent declaring that it was not a pre-electoral budget, while the remaining 6.3 per cent declared they did not know.

 



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