MaltaToday Survey | Abela trust drops to lowest level as Grech reaches high point

Prime Minister suffers new year blues as trust hits lowest point and Grech makes inroads

Robert Abela’s trust rating dropped to its lowest level while Bernard Grech’s reached its highest point in MaltaToday’s first trust barometer for the new year. 

Abela’s trust rating stood at 42.1%, a decrease of almost five points since last month, and the lowest result since becoming Prime Minister a year ago. 

Grech registered a trust rating of 34.7%, climbing almost five points since December, and achieving his best result since becoming Nationalist Party leader last October. 

Grech was also more popular than his party, a feat that has so far evaded Nationalist leaders since the 2017 general election. Although Grech was only one point ahead of his party, it may suggest a growth potential for the PN if this develops into a trend. 

For Abela the new year saw him achieve a trust rating equivalent to his party’s result, the first time this has happened since 2017. Labour leaders have always been much more popular than their party, which could explain the large electoral victories in 2013 and 2017. 

The trust gap between the leaders is now down to 7.4 points from 16.7 points last December. This is the closest the leaders of the two major political parties have been in three years. 

A number of factors may have influenced the result, including the revelation that Abela took a personal interest in Grech’s tax affairs during the PN leadership race, the Prime Minister’s lack of decisiveness in the case involving Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar and possibly his over-optimistic outlook on the COVID-19 pandemic, which jars with Grech’s soberer attitude.

The findings show that Abela is trusted more than Grech among men and women but the Opposition leader has made significant inroads with the male population.

The Prime Minister had the trust of 43.9% of women, against Grech’s 32%. But the gap was cut among men where Abela scored 40.8% against Grech’s 36.6%.

Abela beat Grech across all age groups apart from pensioners, where the PN leader scored a trust rating of 49%, five points more than the Prime Minister.

In the youngest age group (16-35), Grech managed to claw back support, cutting the gap to just under four points.

Abela’s strongest showing was among those aged between 51 and 65, where he clocked a trust rating of 55.6%.

On a geographical basis, Grech led Abela in the Northern and Northern Harbour regions but the PN leader continued to struggle in the two southern regions, which are traditionally Labour leaning.

Abela registered his highest trust rating in the Southern Harbour with 57.4%, while in Gozo, he maintained his primacy with a trust rating of 47.6%, almost 11 points ahead of Grech.

The survey showed that Grech’s gains were also reflected among those who voted for the Labour Party in the last general election. Grech secured the trust of 11.7% of 2017 PL voters, which is significant when compared to Abela’s trust rating of 6.4% among Nationalist voters.

Abela retained the trust of 79.7% of PL voters, while Grech enjoyed the trust of 76.9% of PN voters.