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Divorce | MT Survey shows gap narrowing between pro, anti-divorce camps

The first MaltaToday survey to ask the divorce referendum question as approved by parliament last month shows the yes campaign leading by 7 percentage points.

James Debono
18 April 2011, 12:00am

The first MaltaToday survey to ask the divorce referendum question as approved by parliament last month shows the yes campaign leading by 7 percentage points.

But compared to MaltaToday’s last survey held last month before the motion calling for the referendum was approved by parliament, support for divorce has dipped by 11 percentage points. For the first time in the past year, the pro-divorce camp falls short of an absolute majority.

But the losses for the yes campaign are not translated in any gains for the no camp, which has also seen its support slip by two points.

Instead the decrease in yes voters is corresponded by a 10-point increase in undecided voters and a two-point increase in those intending not to vote.

600 respondents were interviewed in the survey carried out over the past two weeks. This represents a doubling of the usual 300 respondent sample, cutting the margin of error from +/-5.7% to +/-4%.

Significantly the sharpest drop in support for divorce is registered among respondents who voted for the Nationalist Party in the 2008 general election.

Among this category, support for divorce dropped by 11 points, opposition to divorce increased by 6 points and undecided respondents increased by 5 points.

This suggests that support for divorce among Nationalist voters has slipped following parliament’s approval of a Labour-sponsored motion which was approved thanks to the vote of two Nationalist backbenchers but was opposed by the Prime Minister who wanted a more generic question for the referendum.

On the other hand, among Labour voters support for divorce has remained stable at 75% while opposition to divorce has dropped by 2 points.

The survey also suggests a moderately high turnout for the referendum with 76% replying that they will surely or probably vote in the referendum. A further 11% say that they will decide on whether to vote on the spur of the day. Only 9% will probably or surely not vote in the referendum.

The survey dispels the idea that anti-divorce voters are more likely to vote in the referendum.

This idea was reinforced by previous MaltaToday surveys showing ‘no’ voters more likely to consider divorce as one of their two top national concerns.

But the latest survey shows that while 86% of ‘yes’ voters will surely or probably vote, the same intention is expressed by 84% of ‘no’ voters.

Moreover while among ‘no’ voters 7% claimed that they would probably not vote, only 2% of ‘yes’ voters expressed the same intention. This suggests that there is greater hostility to the referendum process among the no camp than among the yes camp.

But ‘yes’ voters are more likely to decide on the day whether to vote or not.

While 10% of ‘yes’ voters would decide whether to vote or not on the spur of the day, only 5% of no voters expressed the same intention.

Significantly among the undecided nearly 60% replied that they will probably or surely vote in the referendum. This makes winning over this category crucial in determining the referendum outcome.

Nationalist voters are slightly keener to vote in the referendum. But while Labour voters are more likely to say that they will decide whether to vote or not on the day of the referendum, Nationalist voters are more likely to say that they will probably not vote.

Support for divorce remains higher among the youngest age group (18-34) and lowest among over 55 year olds. Among the youngest age group only a fourth are opposed to divorce.

The survey shows that support for divorce is highest among males aged between 18 and 34 (55%) and lowest among females aged over 55 years old (29%).

James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
Joseph MELI
Antoine Vella. a lot of people are switching from PN to PL because of the PN's confessional values and you are too uptight to realize it. Keep on insulting - it is one thing PN know best.
Joseph Saliba
Skond tal LE ghad divorzju Ragel li jsawwat lil martu left,right and center day in day out ma haqqux jiehu divorzju. Naqbel maghhom imma nistaqsi x'tahsbu li ghanda dritt taghmel Martu. Skond intom li tipriedkaw l-imhabba u qalbkom perzuta ghat-tfal din il-vittma ta vjolenza kontinwa ghanda tkompli taqla go fiha quddiem ulieda ghax hu dnub li tiddivorzja u tibda hajja gdida ma xi hadd li veru ihobbok.
Luke Micallef
Antoine Vella, it is better to think before you speak. If you ever think that the PL hates blacks than really you are either a text book example of a moron or it is true what I said that Gonzi can make certain people see white when its actually black. Of the two, I firmly believe you are a moron. If you are my age you will remember if you are young let me enlighten you. When Labour took the government in 1970, Malta was broke, we did not have the cash to pay the civil service. Mintoff went to Gaddafi and struck a deal of sorts. The derision, hate and racist campaign against the Libyans from the PN, its media and supporters, was unbelievable. Man if you could the people talking at Ghar id-dud. Man, it was love thy neighbour in reverse? They gave them the nickname of tal-Habbiziz, a tarditional Libyan Dish. Antoine your party's history proves that it breads the xenophic and racist element of the Maltese population, OK? So do not believe what Gonzi says because his is pathological liar and you might live to regret it. For now you believed that we of the PL is racsit, we do not have to prove it to morons like you that we are not. Our history and most importantly, of our conscience attests to this fact. Now back to you and your faith in Gonzi, I say careful what you believe especially if you are employed with the government of a company owned by it. Gonzi might send you a letter promising that if you vote for him your job and future have a cast iron future. After he gets what he wants, you might find yourself without a job because of restructuring. Just ask the Air Malta employees. OK bro? Shoot your mouth as much as you want, its free to be stupid. But do not accuse the PL of sins its not guilty of. Remenber this Bro. 'IL-QAHBA MILLI JKOLLHA TTIK!' And compared to Gonzi your usual garden variety whore is a bloody virgin. Editor, excuse me but some people just .......well just!!!
Karl Cremona
Malsey, quite apart from the divorce issue there is another reason for you to vote Labour. . You dislike black people with an intensity that borders on hatred so the PL is just the party for you. Enjoy it.
Marcelle Borg
Although I will not participate in the referendum, my answer is: "I disagree". In Poland, I will asked the question in the referendum: "Do you want in Poland, the introduction of laws of the Republic of Malta about divorce ?"
alfred zarb
What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6). So why does the church allow separationwhich is another word for putting asunder?
Alden Grima
Quoting from the Bible is quite meaningless. All the fables therein are simply that- stories made up by people who have the nerve to quote quotes that they themselves have never heard and "witnessing " events they have never seen. The gospels actually contradict each other so they can't be held as a "truth". St Paul was a raving,egoistic, woman hating, masochist, who is guilty of starting off all these the fabrications the fundamentalists love so much. Jesus said this, Jesus said that? There is absolutely NO historical evidence at all the man existed in the first place. He existed as an idea, not as a person. Quite a similar legend to the later Robin Hood.
joan jeffries
The church is leaving no stone unturned in her crusade against Divorce, last Friday during the Duluri procession at our village the issue was brought up once more, even Sunday bible explanation is being used instead on the Divorce issue except yesterday as the reading was too long and the priests as usual are too exhausted to preach.
justin spiteri
Thank you for correctly using the word "percentage points" and not "percent" - as other local newspapers erroneously do as a matter of routine.
malcolm ricci
Malsey, please it s wrong to say that you are going to vote labour because of the divorce issue, because it is not a political issue.Even if the anti divorce wins,the labour party will lose nothing,but at least would have given the people a democratic option! Yes I agree that gonzichurchpn will lose the general election,because Malta is sick and it needs a hospital full of doctors and professors to cure her.
Anneke Grixti
I can't see the reason for all this gloom and doom among the YES voters, especially when the polls show a SEVEN point advantage. If this poll is anything to go by, the YES vote will actually win by quite a handsome majority. In my circle, which does not consist of any hardline liberals, I know of no-one, repeat, no-one, who will vote no. Infact the only people who will vote NO seem to be the die-hard Catholics. Believe it or not, there are not so many of them that they can even remotely hope to tip the balance against divorce.
amanda mifsud
Probably for the first time in my life I will have to vote labour. I will not be the prostitute of the prime minister personal values(which are practically the church values) I will keep on fighting for a secular state and for people's rights as long as the indivdual will be able to pay for them personally Gonzi might win the referendum, but he will lose the general election
Keith Chircop
Giordano Bruno is correct! The local Catholic church and its political pawns will stop at nothing to achieve a 'No' vote. It is all about power and control, and nothing to do with spirituality, humanity and kindness. It has even invoked Satan in the past, and it will do so again now! Alas, this crusade is short-sighted strategy, as it may probably win it this battle, however it is slowly losing the war.
Luke Micallef
The survey shows that the combined effort of church and PN is working. I am afraid by the referendum the no vote will win. It pains me to say it but the yes campaign people are bloody short sighted and do not know how effeceint the PNChurch machine is. Please answer me this. Why did the YES for divorce people accept the date of the 28 of May? Didn't they know that it meant the hustings takinng place during lent. Which mean spiritual talks (the ezercizzi), the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Sunday plus the other various functions of the season. Do you know that all over Malta the procession of Our Lady of Sorrow was turned into an anti divorce ralley. Are you aware that each Sunday the Mass homely is a whole tirade against divorce. Is anyone foolish enough to believe that the YES vote will? I hope that I will eat my words but I have a very bad feeling. Please X Man don't mix the sacred with the profane. Divorce has nothing, I repeat nothing, to do with religion. Christ has got nothing to with it. It is a CIVIL LAW which will dissolve CIVIL MARRIAGE. All marriage vows taken in church will NOT BE EFFECTED. In actual fact the crusade is for nothing. The Church does recognise civil marriage, right? So why is she opposing divorce when it is dissolving something (civil marriage) that she does not recognise.
Under what conditions may Christians divorce and remarry? In earlier generations, this question was very seldom raised, simply because divorce was almost never encountered among Christians and was unusual even in the general population. Today, however, it has become a very real problem in evangelical Christian circles. Infidelity is no longer rare, even among Christian leaders, and one can hear almost weekly of some new pastoral “affair” and its traumatic effect on his church. With such examples in the leadership, it is bound to be even more common among the ordinary members, and the resulting decline in the stability of the Christian home today is surely one of the more alarming signs of the times. Christ limited the permission of divorce to the single case of adultery. It seems that it was not uncommon for the Jews at that time to dissolve the union on very slight pretences (Matt. 5:31,32; 19:1-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18). The precepts given by Christ regulate the law of divorce in the Christian Church.
“He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6). This seems very comprehensive and conclusive, yet He immediately followed up this statement with the following apparent exception: “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matthew 19:9; see also Matthew 5:31, 32).