MaltaToday survey | Concern on buses, corruption sees marked increase

Concerns about corruption and public transport have both seen a seven-point increase, the highest registered in MaltaToday soundings since 2013

james
James Debono
26 January 2016, 7:37am
Are you being served? People remain apprehensive about Malta's bus service
Are you being served? People remain apprehensive about Malta's bus service
MaltaToday Survey | Major concerns • January 2016
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Traffic has remained the top concern of the Maltese, a survey carried out by MaltaToday in the second week of January shows.

But the survey also shows a sharp increase in concern about public transport (+7) and corruption (+7). Concern on both issues is the highest registered in MaltaToday soundings held since 2013. 

Worries about corruption have gone up by seven points compared to August, reaching the highest level ever recorded in MaltaToday surveys. Corruption now emerges as the greatest concern of PN voters and the second most serious concern of university educated voters.  

While 14% of all respondents mentioned corruption as a top concern (up from seven points in August), the percentage rises to 30% among university educated respondents. Concern on corruption is lowest among Labour voters and those with a primary level of education.  

The rise in concern on public transport follows the introduction of new routes. The worry on public transport is just two points higher among PN voters. But in an indication that concern about public transport rises above partisan consideration, 14% of PL voters mentioned buses among their two top concerns. Concern on public transport was highest among those with a post secondary level of education. 

In the survey, 450 respondents contacted by telephone were asked to name the two most serious problems facing the country. Respondents were more forthcoming than they were in August in naming problems, with the percentage of don’t knows falling by 17 points.

Concern on immigration has risen by two points – a fifth of the Maltese still consider immigration as a major concern despite a lull in migrant arrivals in the past two years.   Concern on immigration is higher among PL voters, 27.2% of whom mentioned immigration as one of their two top concerns. Concern on immigration was lowest among the university educated. 

For the first time the survey also registers Islamophobic sentiment, with 3.5% mentioning Islam or people of Muslim origin as the greatest problem facing the country. Curiously more people were concerned by Islam than they were with health and the economy. The increase in concern about Islam comes in the wake of the Paris attacks and reports of sexual harassment by persons of North African origins in Cologne during New Year festivities.

Traffic had already emerged as Malta’s top concern in November 2014, when it overtook migration for the first time since 2013. But concern about traffic has increased by another seven points. Concern about traffic is lower among PN voters.  While 47% of PL voters singled out traffic as a main concern only 20% of PN voters did so. 

Rising concern on traffic may reflect the worsening gridlock situation on Maltese roads. But it could also reflect a lack of concern on other issues (such as utility bills),  which dominated surveys in the past.  What is sure is that the survey suggests that Transport Minister Joe Mizzi’s portfolio, which includes roads, public transport and traffic, attracts the highest levels of concern.

Interestingly, worries about parking have also peaked at 10 points, the highest in the past two years.

The survey registers a small three point dip in concern on the environment and an 11 point dip in concern on the state of the roads. 

Concern about the environment remains substantially higher among the university educated, 20% of whom mention the environment as one of their two top concerns. But concern on the environment drops to less than 7% among the post secondary and secondary educated.

Concern on bread and butter issues such as low income and the cost of living has also gone up by seven points when compared to August.  

On the other hand, in a clear indication that the public has a positive perception of the country’s economic direction, only 1.2% expressed any concern about economic issues. The survey also registers a small increase in concern about jobs, up from 3% in September to seven points now. But this still represents a sharp drop from the 21% who were concerned about the employment situation in March 2014. 

Methodology 

The survey was held between Monday 11 January and Thursday 14 January. 688 respondents were contacted and the survey stopped after the 450 quota sample was reached. The margin of error was +/-4.6 percentage points. 38.3.% of respondents said they voted PL in 2013, while 25.4% said they voted PN – which suggests a slight over-representation of PL voters in the sample.

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