Rate the minister survey: Traffic woes send Mizzi to the bottom of the pile

As tourist arrivals soar, Edward Zammit Lewis flies high, while finance minister Edward Scicluna gets 10-point boost ahead of Budget
 

james
James Debono
12 October 2015, 7:25am
Rock bottom: Transport minister Joe Mizzi is Malta's most unpopular minister
Rock bottom: Transport minister Joe Mizzi is Malta's most unpopular minister
Rate-the-minister survey October 2015 | Create your own infographics
This year’s Rate the Minister survey has confirmed that transport and the environment are still the Labour government’s Achilles’ heel, while the economy and tourism are its strong assets.

This is confirmed by the unpopularity of transport minister Joe Mizzi in MaltaToday’s ‘rate the minister’ survey, who hits rock-bottom, while environment minister Leo Brincat retains last year’s low ratings; on the other end, the survey confirms the increased popularity of tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis and finance minister Edward Scicluna.

The survey was conducted among 500 respondents carried out in the first week of October in which respondents were asked to rate each minister’s performance.

Only 22% of respondents in MaltaToday’s latest survey judge the performance of Transport Minister Joe Mizzi as positive, down from 25% last year and 52% in February 2014.

Amid increased concern on traffic congestion and the state of public transport, Mizzi’s performance was judged negatively by 34% of respondents and ‘so-so’ by 31%.

Mizzi was also the minister to have received the lowest ratings from either PN and PL voters, respectively 8.5% and 40.8%, underlining the cross-party agreement on the minister’s performance over the past year.

Environment minister Leo Brincat retained the same positive rating as last year (30%) but saw the percentage of respondents who judge his performance negatively increase by 4 points.

Survey confirms ‘feel-good’ factor on economy

On the other hand, tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis has not only seen an 8-point increase in his positive rating but now emerges as the Cabinet’s most popular minister with an approval rate of 59%.

Significantly, a relative majority (43%) of PN voters in 2013 also judge his performance positively. Zammit Lewis’s popularity indicates the general satisfaction with the tourism sector, which dates back to the previous administration when present PN deputy leader Mario de Marco, who served in the same role (coupled to the more contentious environment portfolio), was the previous government’s most positively rated minister.

Moreover, ahead of the budget finance minister Edward Sciculuna registers an 11-point increase in positive ratings from 34% a year ago to 45% now.

Significantly, Scicluna has seen a 15-point increase in ratings among PN voters in 2013. Despite holding what is traditionally seen as the most unpopular portfolios, Scicluna is now the sixth most popular minister, surpassing social solidarity minister Michael Farrugia, civil liberties minister Helena Dalli and home affairs minister Carmelo Abela. Under the previous (Gonzi) administration, finance minister Tonio Fenech was consistently the second least popular PN minister after transport and infrastructure minister Austin Gatt.

In another sign of satisfaction with the government’s economic policy, economy minister Chris Cardona has also seen his approval rate increase by 4 points. But in an indication that his popularity has been dented by controversies during the summer revolving around the rent of an apartment in Portomaso, his negative ratings have also increased by 6 points.

In what could shed light on Labour’s changed ideological blueprint following the departure of Marie Louise Coleiro Preca from the social policy portfolio, Michael Farrugia is less positively rated than economy-related ministries. He is judged positively by only 40% (up 1 point from last year) compared to the 68% who judged Coleiro Preca’s performance as positive in February 2014.

The cabinet’s top brass

In a sign of consolidation, 10 ministers improved their positive ratings over last year and only five ministers registering losses.

"Amid increased concern on traffic congestion and the state of public transport, Mizzi’s performance was judged negatively by 34% of respondents and ‘so-so’ by 31%"
The survey confirms the standing of veteran education minister Evarist Bartolo, who apart from Zammit Lewis is the only minister to surpass the 50% mark. But amid controversy on a White Paper suggesting earlier school times to solve the traffic problem, the senior minister loses a point over last year and has seen his negative ratings increase by 2 points.

Justice minister Owen Bonnici retains his position among the top 3 but has seen his positive ratings decrease by 2 points.

Despite a small increase in positive ratings, energy and health minister Konrad Mizzi has lost his position among the top brass and is 11 points less popular than he was in February 2014 when his performance was judged positively by a staggering 57%.

Mizzi’s decline comes in the wake of a delay in the government’s tight deadlines for the new LNG terminal and criticism over a bank guarantee to ElectroGas. But in an indication of his high standing among Labour voters, Mizzi now emerges as the second most popular minister among Labour voters, 77% of which judge his performance positively – just 3 points less than tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis.

In what could be an indication of sympathy following a heart attack, George Vella emerges as the fourth most popular minister after a 9-point surge in his positive ratings. Vella’s ratings among PN voters have increased by 13 points. Deputy PM Louis Grech has also seen his positive rating increase by 4 points but a third of respondents could not judge Grech’s performance as minister.

"Veteran education minister Evarist Bartolo, apart from Zammit Lewis is the only minister to surpass the 50% mark "
The sharpest losses over last year are registered by civil liberties minister Helena Dalli (-3 points) who gains 4 points among PN voters but loses 4 points among PL voters. Newcomer Carmelo Abela, who succeeded Manuel Mallia in the home affairs portfolio, registers a 5-point improvement over his predecessor.

14% of PN voters judge Muscat positively

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has seen his positive ratings drop by 3 points when compared to last year, but gains 3 points over June when respondents were also asked to rate the PM’s performance.

Significantly, Muscat’s performance is judged positively by 14% of PN voters in 2013 and negatively by 6% of PL voters. Muscat has also seen the percentage of respondents who judge his performance negatively increase by 3 points since March and by a point since June.

Moreover, 12% of PL voters in 2013 judge the PM’s performance as so-so. This suggests that while Muscat continues to make inroads among a category of PN voters he faces discontentment among a sizeable minority of PL voters. The percentage of Labour voters who judged his performance negatively has increase by 4 points since last year.

Among Labour voters Muscat enjoys a lower positive rating than tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis, energy and health minister Konrad Mizzi and education minister Evarist Bartolo.

Methodology

Survey held between Monday 28 September and Friday 2 October respondents contacted and survey stopped after 500- quota sample reached. Margin of error +/-4.4 percentage points. 40.7% of respondents said they voted PL in 2013, while 27.3% said they voted PN – tallying with the gap between both parties in the last general election.

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