Chris Fearne ‘best performing minister’, MaltaToday survey shows

Chris Fearne emerges as the top performing minister in Robert Abela’s Cabinet, followed by Ian Borg and Clyde Caruana, a MaltaToday survey shows

Chris Fearne emerges as the top performing minister in Robert Abela’s Cabinet, followed by Ian Borg and Clyde Caruana, a MaltaToday survey shows.

Fearne, who doubles up as health and deputy prime minister, was indicated as the top performer by 12.5% of respondents, double that of the closest Cabinet colleague, Ian Borg.

This is the first survey to ask people to rate their ministers since the March general election, which saw the Labour Party secure its third consecutive term.

Fearne emerges as the top performer among men and women, all age groups and in three of the six regions, placing second in the rest.

The deputy prime minister also tops the list among those who voted for the PL and the Nationalist Party in the March election.

The other Cabinet members to make the top seven list are, Ian Borg (5.9%), Clyde Caruana (4.7%), Clint Camilleri (2.8%), Clifton Grima (2.6%), Michael Falzon and Miriam Dalli, each with 2.2%. The rest of the Cabinet members score below 2% in the overall results.

Overall, 53.9% of respondents did not indicate a preference or were unable to choose.

The survey was carried out between 22 November and 1 December, coinciding with government’s decision to put forward an amendment to introduce exceptions to Malta’s strict anti-abortion law.

The amendment was presented by Fearne and Justice Minister Jonathan Attard on 16 November and the parliamentary debate started on 28 November.

Fearne has been at the forefront of the debate but the survey suggests this ethically contentious issue – abortion has for long been considered a no-go area for politicians – has not dented his position as best performing minister.

A similar survey carried out in February 2021 had also put Fearne top of the list with 25.2% but this was at the height of the pandemic and at a time when the vaccine roll out was in full swing.

Fearne is credited to have successfully steered Malta’s COVID-19 response, which earned him praise from the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge. And in the ongoing abortion debate, Fearne has emerged as a reassuring voice in pressing home the need to introduce the exceptions to protect women’s health and lives, while allaying fears this will lead to a free for all.

The survey asked respondents to name one minister or parliamentary secretary who they believe is performing best. Robert Abela was excluded from this exercise and names were not prompted.

Borg and Caruana

Foreign Minister Ian Borg, placed second with 5.9%, retaining the same position as that in February 2021, albeit with a reduced percentage. In February, last year Borg was chosen by 16% of respondents.

Borg’s public profile has greatly diminished after the March general election, having been appointed foreign minister. He did briefly have a platform earlier this year when Malta was confirmed as a member of the UN Security Council for a two-year term starting in January 2023.

However, the survey suggests that Borg still benefits from the positive image he built as a doer when as roads minister he was responsible for reconstruction of Malta’s main road network.

The controversies hounding Transport Malta – the driving test corruption scandal and the Japanese second hand car import fraud – and which go back to Borg’s time as minister, do not appear to have had any appreciable impact on his standing since the lower percentage cuts across the board.

Third in line is the straight-talking finance minister with 4.7%. Clyde Caruana’s portfolio provides him with a natural platform every year during budget time. But he has had to steer the ship of public finances in extremely choppy waters as a result of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

The only female member of Cabinet to make the top seven list is Energy Minister Miriam Dalli with 2.2%.


Among Labour voters

Fearne tops the list of those who voted for the PL in the 2022 general election with 15.3%, followed by Foreign Minister Ian Borg, who clocked 9.9%.

In third place is Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri with 4.7%, followed by Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo and Economy Minister Silvio Schembri, each with 4%.

Education Minister Clifton Grima with 3.6% and veteran Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon with 3.4% make up the top seven list among PL voters.

All ministers were PL front runners in their respective home districts in the last general election with Camilleri and Borg posting stellar performances in the 13th and 7th districts respectively.

In February 2021, Borg had pipped Fearne to the top spot among PL voters, with Byron Camilleri coming in a distant third. Camilleri does not feature among the top seven in the latest survey.

Among PN voters

The Deputy Prime Minister also tops the list of best performers among those who voted for the PN in the last election. Fearne received the consensus of 12% of PN voters, followed by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana with 4.5% and Ian Borg with 3.9%.

Aaron Farrugia, the roads and infrastructure minister, comes in fourth among Nationalists with 2.6%. Clint Camilleri, Clifton Grima and Michael Falzon complete the top seven list.

In February 2021, Fearne had also featured at the top of the list among PN voters, followed distantly by Evarist Bartolo and Miriam Dalli in second and third place respectively. Bartolo failed to get elected in the last election, while Dalli does not make it to the top seven among PN voters this time around.

Men and women

Fearne tops the list among men and women but twice as many female voters than males believe he is the best performer. Among women, Fearne attracts the support of 16.6% while among men he receives thumbs up from 9%.

Clyde Caruana places second among men with 7.1% but drops to fifth among women with 2.1%. Ian Borg clocks in third among men with 6% and second among women with 5.9%.

While Energy Minister Miriam Dalli features in fifth place among male voters with 3.2%, none of the female ministers and parliamentary secretaries make it to the top seven list among women voters.

Camilleri’s fiefdom in Gozo

On a geographical basis, the rankings are influenced by the strength of ministers on their respective electoral constituencies.

Chris Fearne is the only one to make the top flight in all regions, including Gozo, where he is the only other Cabinet member apart from the three Gozitan ministers to feature.

In Gozo, which is the only region that corresponds in its entirety to an electoral district, respondents gave Clint Camilleri an impressive 34.3% score. Anton Refalo, who is agriculture minister, and Jo Etienne Abela, who is active aging minister, scored 11.4% and 3.1% respectively.

All other ministers receive no mention, apart from Chris Fearne who scores 2.3%.

Ian Borg tops the list in the Northern region, which includes his constituencies, with 11.3%, followed by Fearne (8.2%) and Clyde Caruana (6.8%).

In the Northern Harbour region, Fearne hits the top of the chart 13.8%), followed by Clyde Caruana (5.9%) and Clifton Grima (4.8%).

The South-Eastern region sees Fearne on top with 19.9% but it also features Culture Minister Owen Bonnici in second place with 8.2%, Miriam Dalli in third with 7.3%.

Fearne also tops the Southern Harbour region with 11.8%, followed by Ian Borg (6.5%) and Byron Camilleri (4.5%).

Borg tops the Western region, home to his constituencies, with 17%, followed by Fearne with 13.2% and Silvio Schembri with 5.1%.

Julia Farrugia Portelli, minister for inclusion, features in fifth place with 4.6%, making her the only other female minister after Miriam Dalli to feature in the top seven spots of any subgroup. The Western region is home to Farrugia Portelli’s constituencies.


The survey was carried out between Tuesday 22 November 2022 and Thursday 1 December 2022. 650 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 4.2% for a confidence interval of 95% for the overall results. Demographic and sub-group breakdowns have significantly larger margins of error.