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News | Sunday, 03 May 2009
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EU MEMBERSHIP – FIVE YEARS LATER

Only 37.2% think we’re better off


Five years after EU membership, and only 37.2% think Malta is faring better than it was before membership. This is what emerges from MaltaToday’s latest survey, which also revealed another third of respondents think the country is actually faring worse, while 19% have seen no change at all.
The least satisfied with the way the country is faring after EU membership are respondents with no university or post-secondary education – an indication that working class respondents are the least likely to have seen any improvements due to membership.
Although only 37% have seen the country’s situation improve with membership, an absolute majority of respondents (53%) would like Malta to remain in the European Union. But 31% would like to pull out of the European Union.
Yet, a strong eurosceptic element that wants Malta to leave the European Union persists in the Labour party. Despite the PL’s acceptance of EU membership, an overwhelming 66.3% of respondents who declared they voted Labour in the 2008 election would like to see Malta out of the EU.
A smaller but still significant eurosceptic element also exists in the PN, with 12% of those who voted PN in 2008 wanting Malta to leave the EU.
EU funds are considered to be the greatest advantage of EU membership, closely followed by the right to work and study in other EU countries.
On the other hand inflation and the lack of assistance from the EU to help face the challenge of illegal immigration are perceived to be the top liabilities of membership.
While 5.7% consider the EU’s stricter environmental rules as the greatest advantage of membership, 5% considered restrictions on hunting and trapping as the main liability of membership.
And despite fears expressed before the EU membership referendum of an invasion of foreign workers from Sicily, only 4.3% expressed concern on foreign workers or businesses operating in Malta.
The introduction of the euro is seen as the major advantage of membership by 4% of respondents and its greatest liability by 7%. But the survey also shows a complete lack of knowledge about the Lisbon Treaty, which if approved by Ireland will involve the greatest overhaul of the EU’s decision-making structure since the Treaty of Rome.
The treaty will introduce more qualified majority voting in the Council of the EU and an increased involvement of the European Parliament in the legislative process is not known to 90% of respondents.
And 38% of respondents said they did not have an opinion on whether Turkey should be accepted as an EU member. And while 41% opposed EU membership for Turkey, only 21% approve of it.
The absolute majority of respondents still consider their MEPs to be useful for their country. Only 31% agreed with the statement that “MEPs make no difference to Malta”.

Labour leads MEP race

Five weeks before d-day, MaltaToday’s latest opinion poll on the forthcoming European Parliament elections puts Labour ahead of the PN by six percentage points. At 26.3%, the Labour party has seen its advantage decrease by just 0.4%.
Despite its attempt to attract disgruntled voters by fielding candidates who openly question government policies, the PN has only gained 1.2 percentage points, to reach the 20% mark of support.
The survey now shows Labour heading towards an absolute majority in next June’s election.
If we take just those voters who know who they will be voting for, the survey indicates that 52.5% will vote Labour, while 39.7% have chosen the PN.
Still, a staggering 43.1% of overall respondents remain undecided or have refused to reveal their voting intentions, suggesting a lack of enthusiasm for the forthcoming elections among many voters.
The number of those intending not to vote decreased from 11.3% last month to 6.8%. Former Nationalist party voters prevail among those who say they would not be voting. While only 1.1% of the cohort who said they voted Labour in 2008 will not vote in the forthcoming MEP elections, 6.6% of PN voters said they would not vote.
But the survey also shows that 8.2% of Eurosceptic voters who want Malta out of the EU also intend not voting in June. Most of these respondents failed to declare who they had voted for in last March’s election. This could be an indication that even Labour faces an abstention problem.
For the second consecutive time the survey shows that 5.5% of those PN voters in the 2008 general election have switched sides and will now vote for the PL in the forthcoming election. On the other hand, only 1% of PL voters in 2008 will be voting PN.
Support for third parties has increased from last month, with 2.7% choosing Alternattiva Demokratika and 1.2% choosing Azzjoni Nazzjonali.
When the undecided and non-voters are taken out of the sample, AD manages to score a respectable 5.4% and AN garners 2.4%. But this result is still a far cry from the 9% AD scored in June 2004.
Once again Edward Scicluna (PL) and Simon Busuttil (PN) are confirmed as the frontrunners of their respective parties. The survey also shows Roberta Metsola Triccas (PN) and PN incumbent David Casa in a tight race for the PN’s second seat.
The race for Labour’s second and third seat also remains tight with moderates Louis Grech and Marlene Mizzi enjoying a slight advantage over John Attard Montalto, Claudette Abela Baldacchino and Joseph Cuschieri.


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