Hunting referendum: An east-west divide?

Indecision on spring hunting is highest in Labour’s inner and outer harbour districts where the No leads by two points. Regional breakdown of the latest MaltaToday surveys shows the Yes leading by a wide margin in Gozo and western Malta and the No winning by a wide margin in PN-oriented north eastern urban conglomerates

james
James Debono
9 April 2015, 12:30pm
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Next Sunday, the vote counts from counting tables hailing from different electoral districts will be telling very different stories.

While campaign and party agents reporting results from the PN-leaning eighth to the twelfth districts will be reporting strong No majorities, which in some cases may border on an anti hunting plebiscite, those reporting from the PL-leaning but less politically homogeneous south eastern and western  Malta and Gozo (won by Labour for the first time in 2013) will be reporting a strong lead for the Yes camp. A similar lead was registered a month ago.

What could turn to be decisive to the outcome of the referendum are voters in the Labour-leaning first four districts where the No presently enjoys a small two-point lead but where 13% are saying that they will not be voting in the referendum and 19% are still undecided on what to do.

The first four districts include three where Labour enjoys majorities of over 66% and the more divided first districts where Labour enjoys a 54% majority.
The survey shows that only 66% of voters in the first four districts have made up their mind on how to vote, compared to 79% in the fifth, sixth and seventh districts, 78% in Gozo and 73% in the eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth districts.

Interestingly, the pro-hunting districts, namely Gozo and the fifth, sixth and seventh districts, are reporting the lowest percentage of voters who intend not voting. Only 1% of Gozitans and 4% of voters from the north and southeast intend not to vote. But while voters in the fifth, sixth and seventh districts have the least percentage of undecided (14%), Gozo has the second highest (18.5%) among the four district groupings.

Different towns will also be telling different stories, even in districts marked by strong majorities for one side or another.

For example indications from MT surveys carried out in the past months, show that while the Yes leads the No by just five points in Qormi and Siggiewi, it is leading by 25 points in Zebbug and Dingli.

Moreover in a sign of changing demographics, the No camp leads by 15 to 20 points in more urbanised Hamrun, which borders on Yes-leaning Qormi and forms part of the Labour-leaning first district.

Large northern and central towns like Mosta, Naxxar and Birkirkara report a not so narrow No lead of between five and ten points. But the more affluent Attard and Swieqi report the No camp leading by more than 40 points. In these localities around two thirds are saying that they will be voting no.

Other localities reporting strong No majorities of over 30 points are St Julian’s and St Paul’s Bay.

Methodology

The survey was held between Wednesday, 25 March and Wednesday, 1 April. A total of 1,572 respondents were contacted by telephone. The survey was stopped when a 1,100 quota sample was reached. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points. The results of the survey were weighed to reflect the age and gender balance of the population as registered in the latest census of the Maltese and Gozitan population.

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