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Majority of Labour voters support Spring hunting

Majority still against Spring hunting despite 18-point drop in support for ban among Labour voters

james
James Debono
1 July 2014, 10:56am
Hunters' lobby chief executive Lino Farrugia: fewer Labour voters now would support abolishing spring hunting
Hunters' lobby chief executive Lino Farrugia: fewer Labour voters now would support abolishing spring hunting
A relative majority of 44% will still vote for a ban on spring hunting despite a massive 18-point drop in support for the ban among Labour voters when compared to last year, when a majority of Labour voters were opposed to Spring hunting.

Despite this drop in support for the ban on spring hunting among Labour voters, only 32% would vote to retain spring hunting.

The survey conducted by MaltaToday among 450 respondents suggests that if a referendum is held, spring hunting would be abolished, albeit by a smaller margin than envisioned in previous surveys.

The referendum will be mandatory if the 40,000 signatures -10,000 more than required by the referendum act - are verified by the Electoral Commission and the referendum is authorised by the constitutional court.

In the latest survey only 6% are saying that they would not vote in the referendum but this percentage may grow since 18% are either undecided or are not interested in this issue. 

Since the referendum will only count if more than 50% of voters turn out to vote, abstainers could have a pivotal role, especially if the spring hunting referendum is not linked to another electoral appointment, such as next year’s local elections.

Despite confirming a majority against spring hunting, the latest survey registers a 16 point drop in support for the ban proposed by the Coalition against Spring Hunting.

The drop in support can be attributed to a huge drop in support among Labour voters.  In fact the survey shows the same level of support for a Spring hunting ban among Nationalist voters as was registered last year. Moreover the survey suggests a drop in support for spring hunting among PN voters.

This suggests that the party’s official stance in favour of a controlled spring hunting season and its reluctance to take a stand in the referendum is at odds with the views of a majority of PN voters.

The survey also suggests that a segment of PL voters who were against Spring hunting have changed their mind on this issue after the party allied itself with the hunting lobby during last month’s EU parliament elections.

In fact while last year 48% of PL voters supported the ban on Spring hunting, in this survey 48% say they are in favour of allowing hunting in Spring. 

Labour leader Joseph Muscat has unequivocally declared his position in favour of Spring hunting while Michael Falzon, the parliamentary secretary responsible for planning has tabled a petition allegedly signed by 104,000 people which calls for changes in the referendum law to protect “minorities”.

While a majority of Labour voters are shifting towards their party’s official stance, 30% of PL voters will vote against spring hunting.  This shows that nearly a third of Labour voters are at odds with the official position of their party on this issue. Moreover university educated voters are overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed ban.  This may backfire on the party’s attempts to project itself as a liberal middle class party.

An educational and generational divide?

While two thirds of university educated respondents will vote for the ban on Spring hunting, the majority of respondents with a primary level of education will vote against the ban.  Among post secondary and secondary educated respondents a relative majority is opposed to spring hunting.

The survey also suggests that older respondents are the most likely to oppose the ban on spring hunting.  Over 55 year olds are equally split on this issue.  On the other hand a relative majority of under 55 year olds opposes spring hunting.  This raises interesting parallels between the divorce and the spring hunting referenda. 

Younger and educated respondents were more likely to support the introduction of divorce. In the same way the two categories are more likely to support the ban on spring hunting. The only difference is that while Labour voters were more likely to support the introduction of divorce, in this case it is Nationalist voters who are more likely to support the ban on spring hunting.

Methodology

The survey was held between Monday 16 and Wednesday 18 June.  598 respondents were contacted. 450 respondents accepted to be interviewed. The results of the survey were weighed according to the age and sex composition of the Maltese population. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.6 percentage points.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...