Concern over foreigners is Labour dilemma, Gen Z voters’ top issue is environment

Rapid growth in population from thousands of foreign workers direct consequence of Labour government’s economic policy • Gen Z voters are the only age group to prioritise environmental destruction

File photo
File photo

The rapid growth in population in recent years as a result of thousands of foreign workers was the direct consequence of the Labour government’s economic policy.

But now the Labour Party has a dilemma because that very same policy has become a concern for its own voters more than anyone else.

MaltaToday’s survey shows that ‘foreigners living in Malta’ is the third highest concern at 13.3% for those who voted for the PL in the last general election. It is also the third highest concern for those who did not vote. But surprisingly the issue fails to make it among the top five among Nationalist Party voters.

These figures put the PL in a quandary on how to allay fears among its voter base on an issue that has been pretty much at the heart of the economic success of the past 10 years. It appears the government has to do much more to placate any concerns – real or imagined – people may have over the sizeable presence of foreign residents and workers.

But the results also present the PN with a problem, given its numerous utterings of concern over foreigners in Malta. The PN appears to be out of tune with its own supporters on this issue as it tries to speak to the larger cohort of Labour and disenchanted voters who are concerned about the growing foreign population.

The survey shows that criminality is the topmost concern irrespective of party allegiance but is more pronounced among Labour voters.

Almost a third of PL voters and a quarter of PN voters consider ‘criminality and justice’ their highest concern. The issue also tops the list among non-voters with a quarter of them indicating criminality as their principle concern.

Second in line among PL voters and non-voters is the cost of living with 17.9% and 20.2% respectively.

The second highest concern for PN voters is corruption at 18.5%, followed closely by the cost of living at 18.4

Non-voters 2022 Top 5 Concerns

  1. Justice and criminality: 25.2%
  2. Cost of living: 20.2%
  3. Foreigners living in Malta: 11.5%
  4. Traffic and roads:9.2%
  5. Lack of enforcement: 9.1%

PL 2022 Top 5 Concerns

  1. Justice and criminality: 32.9%
  2. Cost of living: 17.9%
  3. Foreigners living in Malta: 13.3%
  4. Traffic and roads: 12.5%
  5. Lack of enforcement: 6.6%

PN 2022 Top 5 Concerns

  1. Justice and criminality: 25.1%
  2. Corruption: 18.5%
  3. Cost of living: 18.4%
  4. Lack of enforcement: 9.2%
  5. Inconvenience from construction: 6.3%

No foreigner bogeyman for Gen Z

Foreigners living in Malta’ is a top five concern for all age groups except Gen Z voters, who are also the only ones to prioritise environmental destruction.

Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) and Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) aged between 16 and 35 have lived their whole adult life in a Malta that is part of the EU, where work and study exchanges with foreigners have become commonplace. This could explain why ‘foreigners living in Malta’ is not a top five concern for this demographic.

But this is also the cohort which is most concerned about environmental destruction with 11.2% indicating it as their principle worry. ‘Environmental destruction’ is the third highest concern for Gen Z/millennials.

Although the survey suggests greater environmental awareness and less xenophobia among them, they are not as different from the rest of the population on other issues.

The top concern for young voters is ‘justice and criminality’ (29.2%), followed by the ‘cost of living’ (19.4%). Both these issues are the top two concerns across all other age groups with the only difference being those aged 36 and 50, where the cost of living tops the list, followed by ‘justice and criminality’.

Gen Xers would mostly represent people with their own families and possibly more attune to how daily needs have progressively become more expensive to buy.
‘Traffic and roads’ is another concern that cuts across all age groups, ranging between 10% among pensioners and 11.7% among Gen Xers.

However, while ‘inconvenience from construction’ is a top five concern for millennials and Gen Xers, this is replaced by concerns over a ‘lack of enforcement’ among boomers (51-64) and pensioners (65+).

Young (16-35) Top 5 Concerns (Millennials)

  1. Justice and criminality: 29.2%
  2. Cost of living: 19.4%
  3. Environmental destruction: 11.2%
  4. Traffic and roads: 10.5%
  5. Inconvenience from construction: 8.6%

36-50 Top 5 Concerns (Gen X)

  1. Cost of living: 24%
  2. Justice and criminality: 16.6%
  3. Foreigners living in Malta: 12.3%
  4. Traffic and roads: 11.7%
  5. Inconvenience from construction: 11.3%

51-64 Top 5 Concerns (Boomers)

  1. Justice and criminality: 24.2%
  2. Cost of living: 22%
  3. Foreigners living in Malta: 16.4%
  4. Traffic and roads: 11.2%
  5. Lack of enforcement: 5.9%

65+ (Pensioners)

  1. Justice and criminality: 39.1%
  2. Cost of living: 15.7%
  3. Traffic and roads: 10%
  4. Foreigners living in Malta: 8.9%
  5. Lack of enforcement: 7%


The survey was carried out between Tuesday 24 January 2023 and Wednesday 1 February 2023. 646 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.