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MaltaToday survey | The Great Siege syndrome: one in five thinks Malta is being ‘invaded’

Fear of ‘invasion’ and being ‘taken over’ emerges as top immigration concern of Maltese, strongest among Labour voters and respondents who lack a university education • Cultural fears, as well as humanitarian sensitivity stronger among PN voters and university-educated respondents

james
James Debono
12 August 2013, 12:00am
Lack of education and exposure to migrants appear to be correlated to the extent of a lack of sympathy towards asylum seekers and refugees.
Lack of education and exposure to migrants appear to be correlated to the extent of a lack of sympathy towards asylum seekers and refugees.


The educational and political divide • Majority agrees with pushbacks • Majority have no contact with migrants • Misconceptions about numbers • Lack of awareness on EU fundingFULL DATA
We asked: What is your greatest concern about migrants who arrive in Malta on boats?*%
They are invading/taking over Malta 20.6
They come in big/uncontrolled numbers 14.9
They bring disease/lack of hygiene 14
I am concerned about their safety 9.7
They are a financial burden** 9.7
They take Maltese jobs 9.1
Malta is too small 8.9
They have a different culture/religion 5.7
They increase the crime rate 5.1
Malta is overpopulated 4.6
Logistical problems in handling influx 2
Racism 1.1
Not all asylum seekers are genuine in their claims 1.1
They never leave 1.1
Cases of misbehaviour/ indiscipline 1.1
They could be terrorists 0.8
Not concerned at all 4.6
Other 5.1


*Total surpasses 100%, as some respondents mentioned more than one concern. Respondents were not presented with any options and were free to state whatever they wished.

**Financial burden included burden on resources and welfare and respondents who lamented their taxes being used to help migrants



A survey conducted by MaltaToday during the past week shows that the greatest concern the Maltese people have about migration by 'boat people' is the fear of being "invaded" or seeing their country "taken over" by migrants. This suggests a siege mentality in a fifth of the Maltese population, most of which lacks a university level of education and voted for the Labour Party in the last general elections.

The survey also shows that a majority of respondents (55%) support the pushback policy considered by the new Labour government in July, before it was stopped by the European Court of Human Rights, which had already ruled such a policy illegal when practised by Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing government in Italy. 

Support for pushbacks is particularly strong among Labour voters and those lacking a tertiary education.  But a majority of Nationalist voters and tertiary-educated voters reject this solution, which has been decreed illegal by the Council of Europe's European Court of Human Rights. The survey also shows that an overwhelming majority of those supporting pushbacks would reconsider their position if they were convinced that the lives of migrants deported to Libya would be in danger. But 15% of the population still agrees with pushbacks, even if sending migrants back to Libya puts their lives at risk. Libya is not bound by the Geneva Convention (responsible for regulating the status of asylum seekers).

Although the survey shows that the majority of respondents have a clear idea about the number of arrivals in the past months and years, 60% wrongly believe that the number of migrants arriving in the first seven months of the year exceeded arrivals in the same period in any year during the past decade. This suggests that the political drama over the past weeks has created the impression of a record number of arrivals, even though the number did not surpass arrivals in 2006, 2008 and 2011 and only slightly surpassed those in 2012.

Moreover, only a third of respondents thinks that the number of migrants still living in Malta amounts to between 3,000 and 6,000 - which is, in fact, the estimated number of migrants living in Malta. A substantial 27% believes that more than 12,000 migrants live in Malta. These misinformed respondents are more likely to support the pushbacks.

The survey also shows that the respondents are largely unaware that Malta has benefited from €100 million in EU funding related to migration. Only 17% are aware that Malta received more than €80 million in funds, while 24% think that Malta received less than €10 million.
The facts
• In the first seven months of the year, Malta received 1,294 migrants who came by boat after being rescued
• The highest number of migrants came to Malta in the first seven months of the years 2006, 2008 and 2011, not 2013
• Malta has received €100 million in funding related to migration from the European Union in the past 10 years
• Nearly 18,500 migrants have arrived in Malta in the past 10 years
• Census data shows that 2,676 people from sub-Saharan Africa live in Malta, but other estimates put the number of migrants from Africa at around 5,000


 

The educational and political divide

The survey suggests a wide political and educational divide when it comes to concerns about migration.

One striking aspect of the survey is that while the top concern of Nationalist voters is the safety of migrants, the top concern of Labour voters is the idea that the country is being invaded or taken over by migrants. 


Moreover, while 13% of PN voters are worried that migrants are of a different culture or religion, only 6% of Labour voters express this concern. This suggests that Labour voters are less concerned with cultural threats posed by different belief systems while being more worried about what they perceive as a threat to the nation's survival or integrity. This suggests two strands of nationalism: one which refers to culture and religion and another defined through direct reference to the nation state.

The same pattern emerges when respondents are broken down according to their highest level of schooling. Among respondents with a university level of education the major concern is that migrants have a different religion and culture. On the other hand, the main concern among all other educational groups is that migrants are "invading" or "taking over the country." Among those with a secondary level of education, the number of those who think so rises to 24%. 

While university-educated respondents tend to be suspicious of multiculturalism, they are also the most preoccupied by the welfare of migrants. In fact, among this category, a substantial 16% are concerned about their safety.  

The fear of losing jobs to migrants is highest among the least-educated respondents. This could be a reflection of the fact that migrants may represent competition for the unskilled segment of the working class.

The fear of migrants as a source of disease is surprisingly very strong among respondents with a tertiary education. Among respondents with a post-secondary level of education, this emerges as the top concern, alongside the fear of being invaded. On the other hand, concern about migration as a contributor to crime rates is low across the board.

A substantial chunk of the population is mainly concerned by the physical limits of Malta as a small country with a high population density. The perception that Malta is already too densely populated is highest among those with a university education. The Maltese are also preoccupied by the sheer number of immigrant arrivals, with 15% saying that their major worry is that immigrants are arriving in too-large or uncontrolled numbers.

Profile of the 15% of respondents who would still agree with pushbacks if lives of migrants were put at risk
  • 33% say that their major concern is that Malta is being invaded or being taken over
  • 76% have never talked to migrants, compared to 72% of all respondents
  • 52% believe that there are more than 12,000 migrants living in Malta
  • Only 4% are university educated, but 18% have a post-secondary education
  • 64% voted Labour in last election; only 8% voted PN


Majority agrees with pushbacks

Although a clear 55% majority favours pushbacks to Libya, despite the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that Italy's pushbacks to Libya were illegal, the vast majority of those who agree would reconsider their position if the lives of these migrants were put in danger when they are returned to Libya.  This suggests that support for pushbacks is very qualified.




But an adamant 15% would still agree with pushbacks if the life of migrants were at risk. Significantly, 64% of hard-line respondents voted Labour in last general election and only 4% voted Nationalist.

The majority of tertiary-educated voters excluded pushbacks in principle. This suggests that Labour risks alienating the educated middle classes if it pursues such a policy. Support for pushbacks is particularly strong among Labour voters (70%) and voters with a primary level of education (63%), but is low among those with a university level of education (41%) and Nationalist voters (38%).

Majority have no contact with migrants

Only 28% of respondents have talked to migrants from Africa for more than five minutes at least once in their life. This suggest that a large segment of the population has no interaction whatsoever with the migrant community. This is ample proof of a lack of integration policies in Malta and the relative isolation of migrants, who are detained for months before their applications for asylum are processed. The survey suggests that people who have contact with migrants are less likely to support pushbacks. In fact support for pushbacks among this category falls from 55% to 49%. 

People who have contact with migrants also have different concerns. Among this category, concern about migrants' safety is four points higher than among the general population. This suggests that communication creates a degree of empathy. On the other hand, among this segment only 9% feel that Malta is being invaded. 

But this category is more sensitive to issues related to employment. This suggests that workers who work side-by-side with migrants may be more concerned with competition in the labour market. Closer contact also increases fear of disease. Moreover, this category is still concerned with the number of migrants reaching Malta.

Misconceptions about numbers

The survey suggests that the majority of respondents are well informed on the number of migrants arriving in Malta but wrongly think that a record number of migrants have arrived this year. In fact, 60% think that this is the case. University-educated respondents were the least likely to harbour such a perception. In reality, the number of migrants arriving in Malta in the first seven months was lower than the number of migrants arriving in the same period in 2008, 2011 and 2012. But the perception could have been fuelled by a record number of arrivals in July and by the political drama which saw Prime Minister Joseph Muscat considering pushbacks and refusing entry to the MT Salamis after it rescued 102 migrants.

But despite this wrong perception, 60% correctly put the number of migrants arriving in the first seven months at between 1,000 and 1,500. 46% also correctly put the number of migrants arriving in the past 10 years at between 12,000 and 24,000. 

But 23% have incorrectly put the number of migrants arriving in the past decade over the 18,000 mark.  On the other hand 31% incorrectly put numbers at less than 12,000. This suggests that the majority do not harbour an exaggerated perception about the number reaching Malta.

But while respondents show a degree of awareness on the actual number of arrivals, they are less aware about the actual number of migrants who still live in Malta, which is estimated at around 5,000. The reason for the discrepancy between arrivals and the number of migrants actually living here is attributed to the fact that many asylum seekers are issued with travel documents. Many of these tend to over stay in other countries and to disappear from the radar of migration officials. The survey shows that while 34% correctly put the number of sub Saharan migrants at between 3,000 and 6,000, 49% put the number of migrants above the 6,000 mark. A substantial 27% puts the number above an unrealistic 12,000.  

Not surprisingly, those who harbour this perception are more likely to favor extreme solutions like pushbacks. In fact, support for pushbacks among those who believe that there are more than 12,000 migrants living in Malta rises to 62%. On the other hand, among respondents who put the number of migrants at between 3,000 and 6,000, support for pushbacks drops to just 34%.

Lack of awareness on EU funding

The survey reveals that the Maltese, who often lament the EU's lack of solidarity towards Malta, are largely unaware that Malta received €100 million in funds related to migration in the past decade. Malta will also be receiving €80 million in similar funds in the period covered by the 2014-2020 budget. Although funding does not compensate for the lack of a solidarity mechanism and the burden put on countries like Malta by the Dublin II Treaty (which restricts the free movement of asylum seekers in Europe), the lack of knowledge about EU assistance in this sector could exacerbate anti-EU sentiment on this issue.

The survey shows that only 17% are aware that Malta received between  €80 and  €100 million in funds.  On the other hand, 24% think that Malta received less than  €10 million. A substantial 31% replied 'Don't know' when asked how much funding Malta received.

Methodology:

The survey was held between Monday 5 August and Thursday 8 August. A total of 704 respondents were contacted by telephone after their numbers were selected through systematic sampling. The survey was stopped when a quota of 400 completed questionnaires was reached. Respondents were not prompted with options when they were asked for their concerns on immigration. They were provided with options when asked questions about the number of migrants in Malta. The results were weighted to reflect the age and gender balance of population according to the latest demographic review issued by the National Office of Statistics. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.9 points.
james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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Raymond Borg
It seems that the tertiary educated and pn voters do not tolerate different cultures and religious beliefs.
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tontonmacoute have a look at what your nickname implies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonton_Macoute
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at tontonmacoute: HOW WRONG YOU ARE!!! you must be one of the very few Maltese, a very small minority, who like to be controlled by others, who like to go to London once a year or more ( I have not been for years and years - I cannot afford it for your Government decimated the middle class). Your description of me is the description of the great and absolute majority of all Maltese (the polls show this) and if you are so ignorant not to realize this, you should not even call yourself Maltese.
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John B Camillleri
@maltesejustice - you are disheartened by this survey because you know you belong to a conservative, reactionary mass of people who refuse to open themselves up to the reality of our world. Int se tibqa dejjaq hajtek kollha, tibza mis-suwed u l-barranin, l-aqwa li ssiefer Londra darba fis-sena biex taghmel shopping u tara xi show... the fact that you are a graduate doesn't mean anthing: the subtle truth in this survey is that racism is directly correlated to ignorance.
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It must take a PN graduate to conveniently rules out from the survey the open centers and detention centers being located in the South of Malta and extinct in PN concentrated localities.The only truth that I deduced from this survey is that PL sympathizers and the even larger floating voters are classed as an insignificant and irrelevant citizens.And as far as opinions are concerned from comments made by readers the against far out number the for illegal immigration save the almighty reports from journalists (makes me think they get some subsidy from the EU to force feed their opinion maybe?)
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Janice Sant
'Facts are like sacks, they wont stand up unless you put something in them' Pirandello ! You think that people are myopic and can't count the 22,000 people who are here illegally-except for the 5% bona fide refugees? Issa isbah anke dawk li nizlu Lampedusa qed jispiccaw hawn! Aqra media ohra li jaqrawha l-injoranti laburisti ....skond is-survey 'newtrali' taghkom!!!
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I am a graduate and I do believe that this influx of African migrants is being orchestrated by a hidden hand, to destabilize Malta and the EU. I do believe that this hidden hand could be linked to terrorist and criminal organisations and that some of the illegal migrants arriving in Malta are al Qaeda sleepers ready for the signal to act. I do believe that 99.9% of illegal migrants do not qualify for refugee status and therefore would not qualify under the Convention for Human Rights except that you give humanitarian aid but then send those ineligible back to their countries according to International Agreements. The majority of the Maltese who replied may not be graduates but they are equally capable of analysing the situation as I have done and reach the conclusions that you report.
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So if we Maltese express our views regarding ILLEGAL imigrants we are called rascists, so what shall we call the author of this artical and previous once when he insinuates that the only valid and right opinion are those coming from "highly" educated people or shall we say those who gain the most from this situation. While the common citizens right is only to pay taxes and use his vote. We are all equal as Maltese no matter what anyone says.
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I think it is more than 1 on 5. It is more likely to be 4 on 5 against illegal immigration. the only in favour are the hardcore PN supporters
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Journalists, not excluding others from the Maltese media in English, seems to want the run the country from their newspapers. What on earth does make anyone believe that it takes a record number for a government to act. Fortunately, Dr. Muscat does not much care.
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Martin Micallef
Why instead of doing a survey and jotting down statistics aren't such short documentaries shown to show the effect of cultures and the flop multiculturalism is?? Prevention is better than cure.... look here for what is happening to Malmo Sweden .... and we are no Supercountry to avoid this mess.... (the EU commissioner knows this very well) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLfJmBRpTn0 At first they are gentle and shy.... and then... the chaos starts. There is only one way to help these people and it is not by relocating them in other countries but to help them evolve THEIR countries. Still the brainy people who lead the EU want to persist with multiculturalism and integration nonsense.
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Lennex Brincat
Sur James Debono what do you think we are because we support Labour ? Do you consider us as cwiec. I dare you to carry out a survey in Sliema near St Patrick's where the residents are nearly 100% tal- Partit Nazzjonalista and ask them what would their reaction be had a detention centre for illegal immigrants be opened near their doorsteps, there at St Patrick's or the Salesians.. Be sure that would make crap of all your painstaking data and ridicule your thesis that owing to tertiary eduction people are more liberal. Ever heard of NIMBY'S my dear James ?
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How superficial! How about a survey on the backgrounds of illegal (yes they entered the country illegally) migrants? What skills do these have -, which languages can they speak? Ultimately, what can they offer to the community? Of course it's the least educated who are concerned. It's their jobs that migrants are taking, albeit under far worse conditions. Also, I've lived abroad and from my experience, it's always migrants that have to make the effort to integrate. So let's not be too simplistic about things.
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Instead of "lack of education" I call it less exposure to the liberal indoctrination. It is a fact that most university students are fed political correctness at all levels.
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Instead of "lack of education" I call it less exposure to the liberal indoctrination. It is a fact that most university students are fed political correctness at all levels.
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Instead of "lack of education" I call it less exposure to the liberal indoctrination. It is a fact that most university students are fed political correctness at all levels.
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one in five thinks Malta is being ‘invaded’ while the other four are convinced that we are.
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one in five thinks Malta is being ‘invaded’ while the other four are convinced that we are.
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one in five thinks Malta is being ‘invaded’ while the other four are convinced that we are.
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Yanika Chetcuti
"Malta has received €100 million in funding related to migration from the European Union in the past 10 years". (1) Incorrect assessment of the NET amount remaining in Malta's hands after accounting for Malta's contribution to the EU budget!!! I reckon that figure should be quoted at a net of not more than 15/20% of the gross figure you mentioned. (2) Anyway, these funds would have been spent on other more worthwhile initiatives.
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Anthony Demanuele
What is truly worrying in this survey findings is the so very few people who think that amongst these large numers of migrants that there could potentially be so few "terrorists".When Cuba's Castro -in response to USA claims that he was restricting his people's free movement-aided and abetted the mass migrancy of his people by opening up the secure jails -housing the most undesirable and dangerous criminal elements- and lunatic asylums and setting the occupants free to travel to the USA.How do we know for sure that amongst these migrants landing on our shore that similar undesirables(sociopaths,physchopaths,paedophiles ,career criminals etc) and social outcasts are not amongst them and in large numbers?
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"Census data shows that 2,676 people from sub-Saharan Africa live in Malta, but other estimates put the number of migrants from Africa at around 5,000." Do the researchers believe that we are all idiots as was stated by Mr Tick tock? We all have eyes to see apart from making calculations which are simple arithmetic of firat year students. If more than 18,500 have arrived, 630 were taken by other EU memebrs, 1,000 were taken by the USA, soem 200 were rapatriated because they took money offered to go back menaing thattheir life was never in danger and that they were simply economic migrants, 550 were sent back to Malta by Sweden, rounding up the figure of those who left to 2,000, 18500-2000 = 16500. So if they researchers wanted to pull our legs by hiding the truth they have not succeeded. We are not all cwiec as implied b Tonio Tick Tock Fenech.
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Interesting but not illuminating and in my opinion misses two major points (1)Malta has been a colony of sorts from time immemorial; its inhabitants have had to scrabble, scrounge and scrape for a livelihood and for existence throughout besides retaining language and religion; with Independence in 1964 and freedom from military bases in 1979, a new concept of "Malta for ourselves" has been forged - hence the xenophobic "self preservation" attitudes; world globalisation has seen countries like Britain losing a lot of identity because places like London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Bradford and other areas nowadays generate the feeling that "one is not in England anymore". Hence the backlash. It is not fear or racism. It is the strong instinct of "self preservation". ALBERT FENECH Qawra