MaltaToday Survey | Pandemic boosts Malta PM trust ratings to unprecedented levels

Trust in Prime Minister Robert Abela now stands at 62.4%, equivalent to the rating he received in February after becoming leader and representing an almost seven-point rise since March

Robert Abela's trust rating has skyrocketed as Malta faces the COVID-19 crisis, a MaltaToday survey has found
Robert Abela's trust rating has skyrocketed as Malta faces the COVID-19 crisis, a MaltaToday survey has found

Robert Abela’s trust rating has skyrocketed again at a time when the country faces its worst crisis since the Second World War, a MaltaToday survey shows. 

Trust in the Prime Minister now stands at 62.4%, equivalent to the rating achieved last February in the first survey since Abela became leader. The latest result represents an almost seven-point increase since March. 

Opposition leader Adrian Delia’s trust rating stands at 17.3%, less than a percentage point increase since March, with the only significant gain being in Gozo - a 45-point gap separates the two leaders. 

Abela was elected leader of the Labour Party in January as the country faced a major political crisis linked to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

Since then he has had to deal with the resignation of former Gozo minister Justyne Caruana, a corruption scandal involving the police force’s motorcycle section, and mounting international pressure to strengthen Malta’s fight against money laundering. 

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March saw Abela captaining a country brought to its knees by a virus that has created a global health and economic crisis. 

Despite this baptism of fire, Abela’s trust rating has remained strong, trumping his political rival, across both sexes, all age groups and all regions. The Prime Minister also beats Delia across the spectrum of educational levels. 

Significantly, Abela also manages to earn the trust of 25.9% of those who voted for the Nationalist Party in the last general election. 

Who trusts Abela? 

The Prime Minister has a higher trust rating among women than men but in each case, he is miles ahead of Delia. 

Abela earns the trust of 66% of women and 59.4% of men, as opposed to Delia’s 16.1% and 18.3% respectively. 

Abela’s trust rating soars above the 60% mark across the spectrum of ages between 18 and 65, dropping to 51.4% among those over 65. 

His strongest trust rating is among those aged between 51 and 65, where he clocks 69.7%, followed by the 18-35 age bracket, where he registers a rating of 65.9%. 

Analysing the results on the basis of educational attainment, Abela registers the highest trust rating among those with a primary level of education (70.2%) but beats Delia hands down across all groups. Among the tertiary-educated, a traditional bastion of PN support, Abela earns the trust of 61.9%, against Delia’s 6.8%. The tertiary educated are also the most likely to trust none of the two leaders (22%). 

Abela obtains an absolute majority across all regions bar Gozo, where he registers 45.6%. The Gozo result is significantly down from the 62.3% trust rating Abela received last February and 63.5% last month. 

The reason for this may be traced to the perceived lack of preparedness in Gozo to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, especially since the promised state-of-the-art general hospital has not yet materialised. 

The Prime Minister’s strongest showing is in the Southern Harbour, a traditional Labour stronghold, where Abela scores 73.2%, followed by the South-Esatern region (65.6%). 

The Labour leader retains the trust of 94.8% of those who voted for his party in the last general election and earns the trust of a quarter of those who voted for the PN. 

Abela’s inroads among PN voters is three points higher than the result obtained last February. 

Who trusts Delia? 

The Opposition leader achieves a slightly better result among men (18.3%) than women (16.1%) but falters among those aged between 18 and 35, where he only manages 9.3%. 

Delia’s strongest showing is among those aged 65 and over, where he is trusted by 31.6%. 

The PN leader’s strongest appeal is among those with a secondary education (22.9%), dropping to a dismal 6.8% among people with a tertiary education. 

In Gozo, Delia makes an impressive comeback, albeit still trailing Abela. The PN leader earns the trust of 21.5% of Gozitans, a massive uptick on the 3% registered last month. 

However, Delia’s best trust rating is in the South-Eastern region where he enjoys the support of 27.6%. 

His worst performance is in the Western region, where Delia only manages a trust rating of 6.7%. 

The PN leader remains hounded by the lack of trust from his party’s supporters. This has been a recurrent problem since Delia became leader of the PN in September 2017. 

He enjoys the trust of 40.8% of those who voted PN in the last general election but is troubled by a quarter who trust no one, and another quarter who trust the Prime Minister. 

Delia only manages to earn the trust of 3.2% of those who voted for the Labour Party. 

Labour leads by 26 points but PN gains in Gozo 

The Labour Party remains comfortably ahead of the Nationalist Party with a 26-point lead but loses some of its grip on Gozo, a MaltaToday survey finds. 

Support for the PL stands at 49.1%, while the PN registers 23.3%. Both parties have posted gains since last month’s survey – an increase of 3.1 points for the PL and 4.2 points for the PN. 

The governing party emerges ahead of its rival across all age groups, both sexes, all regions and every educational background. 

However, the waters appear to have stirred in Gozo, where the PN registers 44.8% against the PL’s 48.2%. Only last month, the PN barely featured in the survey as the PL scored over 60% support on the sister island. 

This could be linked to the as yet unfulfilled commitment by Steward Health Care to build a modern general hospital in Gozo, a situation made more urgent in the midst of a health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The PL scores the highest support in the 51-65 age group, where it registers 62.2% against the PN’s 16.3%. 

However, the PL registers its lowest result in the 36-50 age group with 37.7% against the PN’s 25.9%. 

The PN scores highest among the elderly, securing 32.4% of those aged 65 and over, against the PL’s 48.2%. 

Among the young (18-35), the PL has the support of 50.1% against the PN’s 20.4% 

A breakdown of results by party allegiance shows that the PN is still losing votes to the PL. 

The survey shows that 7.8% of those who voted PN in the last election will vote Labour, while the PN only gains 1% of those who voted for its rival. 

Third parties remain non-existent with Alternattiva Demokratika scoring a measly 0.1% and the Democratic Party not featuring at all. 

Methodology 

The survey was carried out between Monday 6 April and Thursday 9 April 2020. 652 respondents opted to complete the survey. Stratified random sampling based on region, age and gender was used to replicate the Maltese demographic. The estimated margin of error is 5% for a confidence interval of 95% for the overall results. Demographic and sub-group breakdowns have larger margins of error. 

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