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MaltaToday survey | Malta says yes to Budget, no to sale of citizenship

Only 26% agree with award of citizenship to foreigners paying €650,000 – 53% disagree • 53% say budget has affected them positively, only 3.5% say it is “negative”

james
James Debono
11 November 2013, 12:00am
Joseph Muscat: Budget good, IIP bad...
Joseph Muscat: Budget good, IIP bad...


FULL DATA [click here]

A majority of Maltese think the Budget is positive, and an equal number have expressed their opposition to the IIP citizenship scheme proposed by the government through which non-EU citizens will be able to buy Maltese citizenship by offering a €650,000 donation.

The award of citizenship through the controversial scheme is expected to yield €30 million for the public coffers, half of which will go directly in the Budget presented on Monday and the remaining €15 million invested in a national development fund - an injection that will enable the government to limit the extent of indirect taxation in the budget but exposed the government to criticism of devaluing Maltese citizenship.

The MaltaToday survey shows that with the exception of a slight majority of Labour voters, there is widespread opposition to the new citizenship scheme among all sectors of society.

Significantly 29% of Labour voters are against the scheme while a further 17% insist that the €650,000 donation should be accompanied by a significant investment in the country. This is ironically the position advocated by the Nationalist Opposition in parliament during the past days.

Moreover a staggering 71% of respondents and 72% of Labour voters favour the publication of anyone granted citizenship through this scheme. The government has already made it clear that the names of these persons will not be published.

But despite widespread opposition to the citizenship scheme, 53% of respondents expressed a positive judgement on the budget. Less than 4% said that the budget would affect them negatively. Even among PN voters in the last election only 6% said that the budget would affect negatively.



53% against sale of citizenship

The survey shows that an absolute majority are in principle against the sale of Maltese citizenship to foreigners. While 53% are against the sale of citizenship to foreigners willing to pay €650,000 as proposed by the government, 10% would only grant citizenship to those who make a significant investment in the country over and above the €650,000 donation.

This suggests that nearly two-thirds of the Maltese are against the citizenship scheme proposed by the government, which offers citizenship against a €650,000 donation.

Interestingly 87% of Nationalist voters pronounced themselves against any sale of citizenship and only 5% supported granting citizenship to those making a substantial investment in the country - a position advocated by the PN in parliament during the past days.

On the other hand Labour voters are split in three categories, with a relative majority of 46% agreeing with the government's proposal, 17% insisting that the scheme should only be offered to people who accompany the donation with a significant investment and 29% opposing the concept of selling citizenship.

This suggests that despite the attempt of the government to project the scheme as a way to attract investment to the country, 46% of Labour voters are either opposed to the scheme in principle or prefer the model proposed by the opposition through which only investors would be eligible to citizenship.

Respondents who voted PN in 2008 and switched to Labour in 2013 are also lukewarm on the new citizenship scheme. 50% of switchers oppose the scheme in principle while 17% would bind citizenship to substantial investment.

Significantly, agreement with this scheme is highest among younger respondents. Among those aged under 35, agreement with the scheme rises to 32%. But even among this category, 55% oppose the scheme on principle. Agreement with the scheme is lowest among those aged between 35 and 54. Among this category agreement drops to just 22%. Over 55-year-olds are more likely to limit the award of citizenship to investors.

Curiously while opposition to the citizenship scheme is highest among university-educated respondents, 61% of which oppose the scheme in principle, agreement with the scheme is highest among those with a post-secondary level of education (33%). A vast majority of secondary-educated respondents (56%) are also opposed to the scheme. In a clear indication that PN voters have moved away from the party's laissez-faire reputation, only 6% of PN voters support the new scheme.

71% want names of new citizens published

The survey also shows that nearly three in every four respondents want the list of new of citizenship published. This contrasts with the government's decision not to publish the names of persons who acquire citizenship through this scheme.

Presently the names of people granted citizenship through naturalisation are published in the government gazette. But the same rules will not apply to this new category of 'golden passport citizens'.

Significantly 72% of Labour voters openly disagree with the government's decision to keep these names secret. Moreover 95% of university-educated respondents insist that these names should be published.

Surprisingly younger voters are the least keen on transparency. Among fewer than 35-year-olds 17% agree with the government's non-disclosure policy. Middle-aged respondents are the most likely to favour a full disclosure policy.

Majority favour citizenship for migrant's children

In a survey held in September, a relative majority of 48% had favoured the automatic granting of citizenship to children of foreigners who were brought up and attended school in Malta.

While Labour voters who are more likely to support the new citizenship scheme were largely opposed to extending citizenship to children of migrants brought up in Malta, Nationalist voters who oppose the sale of Maltese citizenship to richer people were more inclined to support the award of citizenship to this category.

This suggests that the majority of the Maltese, especially Nationalist-leaning respondents, are not averse to relax citizenship rules but are averse to the idea of selling citizenship to a select category of rich people.

This represents an ideological reversal of roles, with Nationalist voters exhibiting a more left-leaning attitude to citizenship issues.

Presently Malta presently practices a very restrictive policy on granting citizenship to people who have worked and lived in Malta for years. Naturalisation is the only avenue to citizenship for foreign residents without Maltese ancestry.

Only 2,401 persons have acquired citizenship through naturalisation since 1991. A report by the European Union Democracy Observatory (EUDO) citizenship observatory states that the acquisition of citizenship by naturalisation in Malta is overshadowed by the "singular non-reviewable discretion" which the home affairs minister enjoys in decisions on each case.

Majority positive on Budget

Nearly 53% of respondents have positively endorsed the Budget, claiming that this will have a positive impact on their life. Only 3.5% of respondents think that the budget has had a negative impact on them. But a significant one-fifth of respondents including 11% of Labour voters and 25% of switchers, were lukewarm expressing a "so and so" judgement while another 21% replied don't know.

The high number of 'don't knows' could reflect the fact that a sizeable number of respondents had not yet assessed the Budget by the time they were contacted.

In a clear indication that the Budget has been welcomed positively, only 6% of PN voters expressed a negative judgement on the budget while a fifth of PN voters claimed that it had affected them positively. This reflects the largely positive reaction of constituted bodies to the Budget, which includes the reduction of utility bills, free child car and fiscal measures benefiting part timers and high earners.

Although the Budget retained the tax cuts for high-income earners proposed by the previous government, it was respondents with the lowest level of educational attainment who were most positive about the budget while university educated were the least positive.

But even among university-educated respondents, 48% expressed a positive judgement on the budget.


Methodology

A total of 450 respondents were contacted in this survey. Respondents were contacted between Monday and Thursday. The question on the budget was asked to respondents contacted between Tuesday and Thursday. Respondents were randomly chosen from telephone directories and the results were weighed to reflect the age/gender balance of the population. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.6%.
james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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Carlo Borg
The benefits of such a program for our nation are the increased income. ONLY. The negatives are the negative publicity, the negative views of the reputable jurisdictions, the "oh so transparent" way in which names will be divulged to the public, the increased skepticism with which foreign businesses will look at maltese -owned business. Yes thanks Joey.
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Mario Monti
Nifthemu, din tac-cittadinanza huwa ftit nazzjonalisti horox li qeghdin jaghmlu plejtu fuqha u dan l-gha kollu huwa frott tad-dwejjaq politiku li ghandhom tal-PN. Il-maggoranza assoluta tan-nies mhux ser joqoghdu jinkwietaw fuq jekk jippartecippawx fis-surveys jew le. Jekk taghsar l-argumenti tal-PN issib hafna ippokrezzija, retorika, teatrini u dak li l-ingliz issejjah 'sour grapes'. Jilghabu ghall-emmozzjoni u minghalihom inessu lill-poplu malti, specjalment lil hafna haddiema li huma bieghu l-assi tal-pajjiz kwazi kollha u l-haddiema spiccaw taht il-barranin, servili bhal l-imghoddi insomma.
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J. Borg
@eddyprivi: That's just soooooo labour! We should just steamroll all over the absolute majority because we are now in power! You were never democratic and never will be -- but you sure know how to trick gullible people into voting for you!
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Joseph Grech-Attard
Maybe one has to understand that our citizenship is no longer what it was since we joined the EU. We are now also EU citizens, as many more. So we have already 'sold' our citizenship. In fact, all persons within the EU can be considered as Maltese citizens as much as we are citizens of other EU countries. The aim of the EU is to be like USA where there is only one citizenship. So let's think well before we speak!
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Polly Bonello
@ Guzep Many girls and boys turn to prostitution mainly because they fall on hard times. When they are living a normal life, they spend their money like there is no tomorrow and then they end up borrowing and end up in a spiral of debt! Do you have a clue who brought us in this situation ? Can we ever believe a pimp of these poor girls, when it comes to morality and fiscal diligence? I don't blame prostitutes: every girl or boy have their own story to tell; instead I blame those immoral people who got these girls and Malta in such a state! Before you accuse others take a good look at yourself?
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Nigel Lawrence
This will be an open door for the laundering of dirty money.
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Joseph Calleja
To those of you that are comfortable about selling your Nationality and Livelihood to any crook that can come up with €650,000. It will bring a lot of money into the country but that is like turning your wife, daughter or granddaughter into a prostitute selling herself say for €1000 euros a trick. It brings in the money but would you sacrifice your wife, daughter or granddaughter just because they can bring in that kind of money? Because fellow Maltese Citizens that is what our government is doing to our Nationality and our Livelihood. It is not enough that the illegal immigrants are already stealing those two precious assets away from us but now the Government decided to prostitute our Nationality and our Livelihood for thirty pieces of silver to any rogue that can come up with the money.
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Joseph Calleja
To those of you that are comfortable about selling your Nationality and Livelihood to any crook that can come up with €650,000. It will bring a lot of money into the country but that is like turning your wife, daughter or granddaughter into a prostitute selling herself say for €1000 euros a trick. It brings in the money but would you sacrifice your wife, daughter or granddaughter just because they can bring in that kind of money? Because fellow Maltese Citizens that is what our government is doing to our Nationality and our Livelihood. It is not enough that the illegal immigrants are already stealing those two precious assets away from us but now the Government decided to prostitute our Nationality and our Livelihood for thirty pieces of silver to any rogue that can come up with the money.
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eddy privitera
I suggest that you hold another survey AFTER this IIP programme has been yielding results, say, in 2 or 3 years time . And the Maltese people would have been able by then to see and touch its benefits !!!
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guzeppi
@Better future, I don't know, nothing for sure!! it can go both ways!!! We can be better or we can be much worse!!!
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Gwakkin
The party in government shoukd be very very careful not to let the opposition and it's allies (english language newspapers apart from maltatoday) turn a non issue into a scandal. Let's face it no one REALLY cares about selling citizenships for a good price but credit to the opposition for turning this non issue into an issue. So beware PL! Even a weak opposition like the present day PN can create ripples.
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joe mifsud
The people said no to the sale of citizenship, the survey was done before it was reported that there could easily be between 200 to 300 sales a year,that means 130million euro to 195million euro annually.i am pretty sure that would change a lot of minds and say yes.
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Polly Bonello
What the Maltese are interested in is a new tomorrow and the budget promises this. James instead, switched the priority upside down: the personal investment scheme is not the main priority: the budget is: especially living with the lower electricity bills of Alice in wonderland! I wonder what credibility would come out of journalist who,somehow, are also addicted to Dr NO's agenda;they blast to oblivion every little hope that his government is trying to muster for greedy self interests. Where did the 5.3 billion euros of debt go James? Who has benefited from them? Any idea?
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GRACE PAVIA
I wouldn't go via the biased vote. I would go with the "switchers" vote. A misnomer like never before. That should be unbiased, intelligent voter, which should never translate into "switchers". Anyway, these voted 50/50. I am sure many will make up their minds towards favouring when they see the actual benefits flow, and when they understand the raison d'etre of the whole scheme. Say in 2 years' time?
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