[Survey] Said and Refalo lead Gozo MPs, 60% of Gozitans want tunnel

Gozo minister Anton Refalo and PN MP Chris Said most popular candidates in Gozo

james
James Debono
13 December 2015, 9:00am
Last updated on 15 December 2015, 10:42am
A MaltaToday survey among 400 Gozitan respondents confirms strong support for the submarine tunnel linking the two islands, with 60% favouring its construction.

But a comparison with a similar survey in 2011 suggests a 5-point drop in agreement with the tunnel, mainly among PN-leaning voters.

The survey shows 14% of those who voted Labour in 2013 will abstain in a  forthcoming election, compared to just 2% of PN voters.

But the survey also shows the PN losing 3% of its 2013 voters to Labour while gaining only 2% of PL voters. And 35% of Gozitan switchers – PN voters who voted Labour in 2013 – now intend not voting.

When these shifts are taken into account, the PN gains two points in Gozo compared to its 2013 performance, possible the result of a higher abstention rate among PL voters rather than any gains the PN has won.

Labourites are more likely to support the Gozo tunnel, as are respondents who have relatives working in Malta and the younger generation. But support is lower among PN voters, those aged over 55, and those who don’t have relatives working in Malta.

What Gozitans think of the tunnel, the island's pressing concerns, and their political preferences
Create your own infographics
 

A majority do not consider the development of an airstrip a priority for Gozo, while a staggering 93% want a fast ferry service to Valletta.

Gozitans also consider the state of the roads as Gozo’s main problem, followed by lack of employment opportunities and connectivity between the two islands.

A relative majority are opposed to the privatisation of the Gozo General Hospital but a relative majority also expects the service to improve. 

PN voters less keen on tunnel

72% of Labour voters are in favour of the tunnel, as against 53% of PN voters. 40% of PN voters oppose the tunnel, and similarly are less keen on the development of an airstrip in Gozo.  While 28% of PN voters consider an airstrip a priority, the percentage rises to 36% among PL voters.

Opposition to the tunnel is also higher among older respondents. While only 29% of under 35-year-olds oppose the building of a tunnel, the percentage rises to 35% among those over 55.

63% of those whose relatives work in Malta agree with the tunnel, while only 50% of those who don’t have relatives working in Malta agree. 59% of Gozitans also believe that the development is financially feasible, as against 14% who say it is not.

30% of PL voters opposed to hospital privatisation

A relative majority is opposed to the privatisation of the Gozo hospital. A majority of Labour voters support the privatisation but a third are also opposed: those aged 35-54 are more likely to oppose it Vitalis Healthcare’s bid for a €200 million investment to run the GGH and St Luke’s Hospital on a 30-year concession. While a relative majority (42%) are opposed to privatising the hospital, a relative majority thinks this will make the hospital more efficient.

Gozitans concerned about roads

Surprisingly the state of the roads emerges as the top concern of Gozitans.

In contrast to Malta, where 23% consider traffic as their main problem, only 4% consider traffic to be their concern.

Concern about jobs is higher in Gozo. While only 3% of Maltese expressed this concern in a national survey in September, the percentage rises to 18% in Gozo. Transport between the two islands is the third most mentioned problem in Gozo.

63% of respondents have relatives working in Malta. 80% think that it is not possible for them to find work in Gozo.

And 51% are satisfied by the level of income and working conditions they have. Only a fourth are not while 23% refused to answer.

14% of Labour voters will abstain

The survey shows that while 2% of PL voters in 2013 would vote PN, 3% of PN voters would vote PL. This suggests that in Gozo the PN is still losing more votes than it is gaining from the PL.

But while the PN retains 74% of its 2013 voters, the PL only retains 68%. The PN retains more votes because of a higher abstention rate among PL voters. While only 2% of PN voters will not vote in a forthcoming election, 14% of PL voters will not vote.

The PL only retains the support of a third of switchers (voters voting PN in 2008 and PL in 2013) but the PN only recovers a tenth of this strategic category.

This suggests disgruntlement among Gozitan Labour voters, which has yet not translated itself into a shift to the PN.

The survey shows the PL leading by 11 points but this is mostly attributable to an under-representation of PN voters in the sample, which can be attributed to a reluctance of PN voters to declare their political allegiance. 

When respondents were asked who they voted for in 2013, only 19% replied PN while 34% replied Labour. 42% refused to reveal their vote. When asked how they would vote in a forthcoming election, 46% refused to answer. This higher level of non-respondents, which is double the national average, is reflected in an 11-point lead for Labour. 

Refalo and Said are top candidates

Respondents were also reluctant to reply to questions on which candidate they would vote for in a forthcoming election. Only 16% of respondents replied to this question.

Gozo Minister Anton Refalo is the preferred choice of 23% of PL voters followed by Justine Caruana  (4%) and Franco Mercieca (3%).

Chris Said is the preferred choice of 25% of PN voters. No other PN candidate surpasses the 2% mark. Former Gozo Minister Giovanna Debono, who has resigned from the PN parliamentary group following the arraignment of her husband, who is facing charges of misappropriation for carrying out public works for private constituents, was only mentioned by 1.6% of PN voters.

Methodology

The survey was conducted by MaltaToday between Monday, 30 November and Friday, 4 December. 761 respondents were contacted by telephone. 417 respondents accepted to be interviewed. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.8.

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