Pro-divorce PN voters number 26,000 [SURVEY]

MaltaToday’s survey shows that the Nationalist Party’s anti-divorce position may have alienated as many as 26,000 PN voters – or 8% of the voting population – but also that the shrunken PN base has become more conservative.

James Debono
15 June 2011, 12:00am

'No' voters are more prominent in the PN's present support (float mouse to second bar to see data)

Pro-divorce “Nationalist” voters could number as much as 26,000, the latest MaltaToday survey on the post-divorce political scenario shows.

The MaltaToday survey conducted among 400 respondents shows that a significant 8.5% of respondents had voted for the Nationalist party in 2008 and voted for divorce in last month’s referendum.

But the number of voters who still intend to vote PN in a forthcoming general election is much lower at 2.5% of the entire sample, which would translate to a paltry 8,000 voters.

Moreover while pro divorce respondents represent 28% of those who voted PN in 2008, these only represent 16% of those who would vote PN in a forthcoming general election. Among respondents who would not necessarily vote PN but prefer Gonzi to Muscat, the figure rises to 19%.

This suggests that the shrunken base of the PN’s electorate is much more conservative than that which re-elected Gonzi by a whisker in 2008 - a new quandary for the PN leadership as the party’s shrunken vote base could be more resistant to moves to lure back more liberal Nationalist voters.

In fact 80% of those who intend to vote PN and 70% of those who have more trust in Lawrence Gonzi than in Joseph Muscat, voted no in the referendum. Only 57% of PN voters in 2008 voted no in the referendum, while 13% abstained. Only 3% of present PN voters abstained.

And while only 40% of 2008 Nationalist voters expect MPs to defy the referendum result by voting against their conscience, this figure rises to 52% among present PN voters as well as among those who prefer Gonzi over Muscat.

It is also significant that while Labour retains 63% of its anti-divorce voters, losing only 10% to the PN, the PN only retains 27% of its pro divorce voters while losing 23% to the PL.

Interestingly the PL manages to offset anti-divorce Labourites now intent on voting PN by attracting exactly the same amount of anti-divorce respondents who voted PN in 2008. In this way the same amount (15.3%) of no voters who voted PL in 2008 will vote PL again in the forthcoming election.

The PL’s voting base is only slightly more liberal than it was in 2008. While 69% of Labour’s 2008 voters voted for divorce, the figure rises to 72% among its current crop of voters and to 71% among those who prefer Muscat to Gonzi.

Survey Methodology

The survey was held between Friday 3rd and Friday 10th June.  Respondents were asked to state their present voting intentions as well as how they had voted in 2008 general election and divorce referendum. A total of 400 respondents chosen from printed and on-line directories accepted to be interviewed by telephone.  The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.9%.

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