MaltaToday | 18 May 2008 | HOW THE DELEGATES WILL VOTE

NEWS | Sunday, 18 May 2008


James Debono

Euro-parliamentarian Joseph Muscat is the undisputed front runner in the race for the MLP’s leadership contest, a survey conducted by MaltaToday among party delegates shows.
A total of 270 party delegates accepted to participate in the MaltaToday survey held between Tuesday and Thursday.
The survey shows Muscat leading his nearest rival George Abela by a staggering 21.5%.
While Muscat scores 32%, Abela only manages 10% followed by Falzon at 8%.
Although Abela seems to have the upper hand over Falzon, the difference between the two falls within the survey’s margin of error. This suggests an intense battle between the two contestants for the runner-up position.
Among the 145 MLP delegates who have made up their mind on whom to vote, Muscat enjoys the support of 58.6%, well above his nearest rival George Abela who scores only 19%. Falzon trails at 15%.
This suggests that Muscat could avoid a run-off by gaining more than 50% of the votes in the first round. But this depends on how delegates who are not declaring their voting intentions would vote on June 5.
If Muscat fails to get more than 50% in the first round, he will have to face a run-off in a second round with the runner up.
What seems certain from the survey is that only George Abela and Michael Falzon have a chance to proceed to the second round if this takes place.
The survey also suggests that Muscat will soundly beat both Abela and Falzon in a hypothetical second round.
In a direct clash with former deputy leader George Abela, Muscat scores 42% against Abela’s 17%.
In a direct clash with current deputy leader Muscat scores 39% against Falzon’s 17%.
This suggests that Joseph Muscat faces less difficulties in a contest with George Abela than in a contest with Falzon.
Delegates tend to be undecided when choosing between Falzon and Muscat than when choosing between Abela and Muscat.
Falzon’s supporters are also more likely to back Joseph Muscat in an eventual second round than Abela’s supporters.
While 43% of Falzon’s supporters prefer Muscat to Abela, only 33% of Abela’s supporters prefer Muscat to Falzon.
On the other hand while 44% of Abela’s supporters prefer Falzon to Muscat, only 38% of Falzon’s supporters prefer Abela to Muscat.
This suggests that in an hypothetical second round, a majority of George Abela’s supporters would throw their weight behind Falzon if their candidate is eliminated.
But a slight majority of Falzon’s supporters would throw their weight behind Muscat of their candidate is eliminated in the first round.
This suggests that even if a second round takes place, Muscat’s rival will not rally the full support of delegates who had previously voted for the excluded candidate.
This gives Muscat a substantial advantage over the two potential runner-ups.
Demographically Muscat is strongest among the oldest and the youngest delegates.
Surprisingly the 34-year-old Muscat is strongest among delegates aged over 55 years of age and weakest in the 35-54 bracket where Falzon registers his highest score.
Within the middle age group Falzon is slightly more popular than Abela.
Abela is also strongest among those aged between 34-55 but weakest among voters aged between 18-34 where he only scores 8% against Muscat’s 36%.
Delegates were also asked to state which is the greatest change they wish to see in the party.
After three consecutive defeats it is not surprising that the primary concern of delegates is to transform the party to ensure that it wins the next election. The second greatest concern is that of making the party more united and third concern is to make the party more open and inclusive.
A number of delegates were more specific in their replies and a cross section of these comments is being reproduced.


Who do you prefer as MLP leader? (%)

Joseph Muscat 31.5
George Abela 10
Micheal Falzon 7.7
Marie Louise Coleiro Preca 2.6
Evarist Bartolo 1.9
Don’t know 28.8
No reply 17.4

Based on the preferences expressed by the 270 delegates who accepted to participate in the survey. The margin of error for this result +/-5.

Between Joseph Muscat and George Abela who do you prefer as MLP leader? (%)

George Abela 17
Joseph Muscat 42.2
None 0.7
Don’t know 20.4
No reply 19.6

Based on the preferences expressed by the 270 delegates who accepted to participate in the survey.

Between Joseph Muscat and Michael Falzon who do you prefer as MLP leader? (%)

Michael Falzon 17
Joseph Muscat 39.3
None 1.9
Don’t know 21.1
No reply 20.7

Based on the preferences expressed by the 270 delegates who accepted to participate in the survey.

How Michael Falzon’s supporters would choose between Muscat and Abela (%)

George Abela 38.1
Joseph Muscat 42.9
None 0
Don’t know 14.3
No reply 4.8

How George Abela’s supporters would choose between Muscat and Falzon (%)

Michael Falzon 44.4
Joseph Muscat 33.3
None 14.8
Don’t know 7.4
No reply 0

Preference of leader by age group (%)
18-34 35-54 55+
Joseph Muscat 35.9 19.1 38
George Abela 7.7 11.2 9.9
Michael Falzon 7.7 12.4 4.9
Marie Louise
Colerio-Preca 2.5 4.5 1.4
Evarist Bartolo 5.1 1.1 1.4
Uncommitted 41 51.7 44.3
What is the greatest change you would like to see in the MLP? (%)

Making the party electable 13.4
Greater unity 12.9
Inclusion/Openness 6.7
Social/Left-wing values 3.8
Appeal to young people 3.8
Changing the administration 2.9
Better use of media 2.9
Loyalty 2.9

Delegates’ comments

“Eliminate all cliques so that everyone’s voice is heard” – uncommitted delegate

“We need another Alfred Sant” – uncommitted

“Stop infighting and unite behind the new leader” – uncommitted

“Secretary-general and administration must go" – uncommitted

“More attention to activists who work on the local level” – uncommitted

“We should be more left-wing and more socialist” – Coleiro-Preca supporter

“Let those who left because of Mintoff return” – Muscat supporter

“Now that we're in the EU, move forward and abandon the old ways” – Muscat supporter

“The party should go back to socialism” – Muscat supporter

“Involve party members when drafting policy” – Muscat supporter

“We need to penetrate the independent media” – Muscat supporter

“More unity and inclusion” – Abela supporter

“Eliminate the cliques” – Abela supporter

“We should be more polite but also more aggressive like the Nationalists are” – uncommitted

“We should do everything for the middle class to identify with us” – uncommitted

“We should lie as much as possible and promise many things as the PN did to win the election” – uncommitted

“Act and talk like the Nationalists, while thinking as Labourites” – Bartolo supporter

“Cut the old roots, become appealing to Nationalists and Labourites alike" – Falzon supporter

“Our infighting is a spectacle to the PN” – Falzon supporter

“Put an end to the siege mentality and start believing in ourselves” – uncommitted

Methodological note
A total of 370 delegates were randomly chosen from the full list of MLP delegates who would be voting on June 5. 270 accepted to be interviewed. The survey was conducted between Tuesday 13 and Thursday 15 May.

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