MaltaToday survey | Muscat holds up declining Cabinet ratings

FULL DATA • Prime Minister 14 points ahead of Simon Busuttil in MaltaToday Trust Barometer

james
James Debono
2 November 2014, 9:00am
Last updated on 3 November 2014, 8:48am
Ministers' rankings and Trust Baromter | Create Infographics
A MaltaToday survey conducted during the past week shows a sharp dip in the approval rating of most ministers but the trust barometer shows Muscat enjoying a strong 14-point lead over opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

Amid increased concern on traffic congestion, Transport Minister Joe Mizzi hits rock bottom, dropping from a solid approval rate of 52% in February to just 25% now.

Sharp drops are also registered by Energy and Health Minister Konrad Mizzi (minus 13 points), Environment Minister Leo Brincat (minus 12 points), Finance Minister Edward Scicluna (minus 11 points), Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech (minus 10 points) and Home Affairs Minister Manwel Mallia (minus nine points).

Civil Liberties and Social Dialogue Minister Helena Dalli is the only minister not to lose any approval points.

The survey shows that while the government as a whole is less popular than it was in February, Muscat still retains a solid lead over opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

Rate the Minister • October 2014 | Create Infographics
None of Labour’s present crop of ministers enjoys the level of approval of former Social Policy Minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca before she was appointed President. In February her performance was deemed positive by more than two thirds (68%) of respondents, including 41% of PN voters.

In a clear sign that Colero Preca’s popularity could not be attributed solely to her social policy portfolio, her successor in the same ministry, Michael Farrugia, gets an approval rating of only 39%.

On the other hand the other two former junior ministers promoted to the cabinet in March, namely Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis and Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, have struck a chord with the electorate, garnering approval ratings of over 50%.

Still, Zammit Lewis’s approval rating is five points lower than former tourism minister Karmenu Vella’s, who enjoyed a positive rating of 56%. Zammit Lewis may also be benefiting from another record tourism season.

Over the past months Bonnici has been proactive in reforming the justice system and proposing an overhaul of drug laws, which would lead to the decriminalisation of drug use. Bonnici’s popularity has not been dented by a court case in which he was cleared after being accused of negligence in causing a traffic incident.

Evarist Bartolo, who faced difficulties in the summer over the delayed opening of SkolaSajf, and who faces the usual teething problems associated with the opening of schools in October, has seen a six point drop in his positive rating but has emerged as the government’s most popular minister, along with Zammit Lewis.

Significantly, Bartolo emerges as the most popular minister among PN voters, 31% of whom consider his performance as minister positively.

Surprisingly Bartolo has registered a slight increase among PN voters and a drop in approval among PL voters.

Zammit Lewis and Owen Bonnici also emerge as the second and third most popular ministers among PN voters.

Joe Mizzi loses 26 points

The most dramatic drop in ap- proval is registered by Transport Minister Joe Mizzi, who has seen his support dip by 26 points among all voters and by an impressive 33 points among PL voters.

Mizzi has now replaced Gozo Minister Anton Refalo as the government’s weakest link.

Heavier traffic congestion over the last weeks and a deterioration of public transport are likely to have contributed to Mizzi’s fall from grace, from a 52% approval rating in February.

Super Minister Konrad Mizzi, who had health added to his energy portfolio in the reshuffle, still enjoys a relatively high approval rating of 45% but this is a far cry from the 58% approval rating in February.

This drop in popularity coincides with the admission that the government will not be honouring its electoral pledge to complete the new power infrastructure by next March.

Konrad Mizzi’s present approval is only slightly higher than that enjoyed by former Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia.

Still, among Labour voters Konrad Mizzi’s approval rate is only second to that of Chris Cardona Economy minister

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. But even among Labour voters Mizzi’s star is waning to the extent that he lost 11 points since February.

Environment Minister Leo Brincat has also experienced a sharp drop in approval despite various initiatives, such as the proposed climate change legislation and the implementation of a new waste management plan.

Disgruntlement on overdevelopment, which does not fall directly under Brincat’s jurisdiction, could be contributing to Brincat’s low ratings.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna has also seen an 11-point drop in approval. Among PL voters Scicluna loses 13 points. This drop coincided with public outrage on the pre-announced Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase of 58 cents.

Deputy PM Louis Grech, one of the least visible cabinet members, has also seen a 10-point drop in approval.

This can be attributed to the fact that 38% of all respondents and 46% of Labour voters replied don’t know when asked to assess his performance.

On the other hand only 8% of all respondents and 24% of PN voters gave Grech a negative assessment.

Foreign Minister George Vella also gets a very low negative rating (6%) but 30% could not rate his performance.

Home Affairs Minister Manwel Mallia, who is constantly the target of the opposition, has also seen a significant 12-point drop in positive ratings among PL voters.

Despite sponsoring potentially controversial legislation on civil unions, Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli has seen a slight increase in approval among both PL and PN voters.

Muscat 14 points ahead

Despite his government’s slump in popularity, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat retains a strong lead over opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

The survey coincided with last week’s PN convention, whose highlight was an 80-minute landmark speech in which Busuttil tried to reinvent himself as a fresher and more determined leader.

The survey suggests that despite narrowing the gap by three points when compared to March (the last political survey held before the MEP elections), Busuttil still has a long way to go. The surveys shows both leaders enjoying the trust of 85% of their respective voters in 2013.
During the MEP election

campaign when the political leaders tend to attract higher trust ratings due to higher visibility, the trust gap between the two leaders oscillated be-tween 10 and 16 points.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has seen his approval rate drop by three points, a much lower fall than that registered by the rest of the cabinet.

But the 45% approval rating is the lowest since April, 2013 when Muscat enjoyed an approval rating of 59%.

Methodology

The survey was conducted be- tween Monday 27 and Thursday, 30 October among 450 randomly selected respondents. 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, ...