MEP elections: Labour voters say migration is top issue

No boat arrivals, but migration concern is drummed inside Labour voters' minds

james
James Debono
21 April 2014, 7:20am
Immigration to Malta still a main concern for 42% of Labour voters
Immigration to Malta still a main concern for 42% of Labour voters
Despite the absence of any major boat arrivals to Malta in the past months, immigration is still being regarded as the top issue in the run-up for May’s elections for the European Parliament.

Respondents to the regular MaltaToday survey were asked to name the two main issues of the campaign.

Immigration is mentioned as the top issue by 23% of respondents. But the percentage rises to a remarkable 42% among respondents who said they voted Labour in 2013.

Significantly the survey shows that a third of respondents could not name a single issue. This could reflect apathy and a widespread lack of awareness on the issues at stake in this election. This is also evident in the choice of issues on which the European Parliament’s jurisdiction is limited.

While migration emerges as the top issue among Labour voters, the location of the LNG tanker in Marsaxlokk harbour emerges as the top issue of respondents who said they voted PN in 2013, suggesting that a fear of perceived risks associated with both issues is a dominant theme of the campaign.

Significantly, a localised issue affecting the south of Malta has emerged as one of the top battle cries of the PN.

On the other hand, migration remains a dominant concern of Labour voters despite the party’s more moderate stance on this issue in recent weeks. This suggests that last year’s escalation, which saw a hawkish Joseph Muscat contemplating pushbacks of asylum seekers in a bid at ‘making European wake up and smell the coffee’ has had a lasting impact on the electorate.

The sale of citizenship is now the second main concern of PN voters, while Labour voters regard “defending Malta’s interests” in Europe as the main issue at stake – a theme adopted by many Labour candidates. This reflects the strong patriotic stance adopted by both parties during the sale of citizenship controversy, which culminated in the European Parliament’s vote singling out the Individual Investor’s Programme.

Interestingly, the number of those who regard citizenship and the location of the LNG terminal are lowest among younger voters – suggesting that the PN is not in sync with younger voters.

High on the list of issues mentioned by younger voters are hunting and the environment, two pet issues for green party Alternatttiva Demokratika.

The overall controversy on civil unions and gay adoptions emerges as the fifth most mentioned issue.

The survey indicates that MEP elections are not associated with bread and butter issues, with only 4% mentioning employment and the economy as the main issue, which would otherwise dominate the campaign in most other European countries.

Surprisingly, only 5% regard EU funding for Malta as a main issue. This suggests that most voters take such funding for granted.

Methodology

572 respondents were contacted by telephone between Monday 7 April and Thursday 10 April.  400 accepted to be interviewed. The results of the survey were weighed to reflect the age and gender balance of the population. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.9%.

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