PN ahead with 5,000 votes as anger sinks Labour

PN’s relative majority mostly attributable to PL’s lower retention of 2022 voters • 29% of PL voters declare their intention of not voting • 10.5% of committed voters opt for third parties • Abela trumps Grech but relative majority trust none

The Nationalist Party enjoys a relative majority and is leading the Labour Party by two points as more Labour voters park themselves in the ever-growing non-voter camp. 

MaltaToday’s October survey shows that support for the PN now stands at 45.8% against the PL’s 43.8%. Other parties collectively enjoy the support of 10.5% of the electorate. 

The gap between the two major parties stands at 4,858 votes based on what would be a historically low turnout of 69%. The turnout here refers to valid votes cast as a percentage of all eligible voters. 

The difference between the major parties falls within the survey’s margin of error. But even when this factor is taken into account the results represent a sharp reversal of fortune for the PL which enjoyed a 39,474-vote majority and a 13-point lead over its main rival in the 2022 general election. 

This is the first polling exercise conducted with a new methodology whereby undecided voters are attributed a voting intention (including non-voting) based on several criteria assessed in the survey. This gives a result that is closer to what one would expect in a general election. This change in method means the results cannot be compared to those of previous MaltaToday surveys. 

Labour retaining fewer voters 

Labour’s decline is mostly attributable to the party’s lower retention rate of 2022 voters.  While the PN retains 77% of 2022  general election voters, the PL only manages to retain 58% of its former voters. 

The PL’s lower voting retention rate is mainly the result of a higher percentage of its 2022 voters who now intend to abstain. While only 14% of PN voters are now intent on not voting, the percentage of non-voters increases to a staggering 29% among PL voters. 

The survey also indicates a marginal shift from the PL to the PN. While 7% of PL voters in 2022 now intend voting for the PN, this is partially mitigated by a contrary shift since 4% of PN voters now intend voting for the PL. 

Labour also marginally loses more votes to third parties than the PN. While the PN loses 5% of its voters to third parties, the PL loses 6%. 

The survey also shows a substantial 11% of voters opting for an assortment of third parties, which includes independents and parties ranging from the progressive Alternattiva Demokratika led by Sandra Gauci to far right outfits like the Partit Popolari. In the 2022 election only 3.2% had voted for third parties and independents. Third parties are strongest among younger and more educated voters. 

A third  of voters will not vote 

The most striking aspect of the survey is that 31% of all voters will not vote if an election is held now. This means that Maltese voters are roughly split in three large camps – PN, PL and non-voters – and a smaller category of third-party voters. 

Significantly respondents aged between 36 and 50, who are in the prime of their working lives and possibly raising children, are the most likely not to vote in a forthcoming general election. Within this category, a relative majority of 45.1% will not vote. 

A relative majority of those aged between 16 and 35 (39.1%) are also intent on not voting. 

Non-voters also constitute a relative majority of tertiary (36.2%) and post-secondary educated voters (36.8%). 

Regionally, the largest percentage of non-voters is found in the Labour leaning south eastern district, which includes towns like Biżebbuġa, Marsaskala and Żejtun. In this region, 36.4% of voters say they will not vote, outnumbering Labour voters by more than three points. 

This phenomenon is particularly worrying for the Labour Party due to the major inroads it had made in both national and local elections in south-eastern towns and districts. But significantly, support for the PN in this region remains below the 25% mark in another sign of its failure to make inroads in Labour leaning districts. 

The same pattern is repeated in the Southern Harbour region, which includes Cottonera, where only 22% intend voting for the PN while 32% are intent on not voting. This is a clear indication that within its traditional strongholds Labour is losing substantially more to abstention than to the PN. 

PN winning in four of six regions 

But the PN has managed to restore its historical majority in more competitive or traditionally PN leaning regions. 

The survey shows Labour leading the PN only in the South-Eastern and Southern Harbour regions, while the PN leads in Gozo, the Northern, Northern Harbour and the Western regions. 

The closest gap between the parties is in the Western region where the PN leads the PL by just 3 points and the largest gap being in the Northern region where the Opposition party leads by 18 points. 

In the North Harbour region, which includes major urban centres like Sliema, Qormi and Birkirkara, the PN is leading by nine points.  But in this district a substantial 31% are intent on not voting. 

In Gozo, the only region which coincides with an electoral district and one where Labour had made massive inroads in the past three general elections, the PN is now leading by eight points. 

PL leads among women, PN among men 

The survey shows Labour leading the PN by less than a percentage point among women while trailing the PN by nearly 4 points among men. This discrepancy reflects the higher percentage of non-voters among males. While 27% of women are intent on not voting, abstention increases to nearly 35% among men. This is another indication that Labour underperforms in those categories with a higher abstention rate. 

A breakdown by education, shows that the PL still leads the PN among all categories except those with a tertiary education. In the latter category where 36.2% are intent on not voting only 19% would vote Labour while 36% will vote PN. 

The PL enjoys a slim lead of less than three points among secondary and post-secondary educated voters and a more substantial 15-point lead among those with a primary level of education. The latter category also has the smallest percentage of respondents who intend not voting (10.5%). 

Past surveys 

A survey published by The Sunday Times of Malta in July that also uses the imputation method adopted by MaltaToday’s October survey had put Labour ahead by seven points. 

MaltaToday’s July survey conducted using the old method whereby no voting intention was attributed to undecided voters, the PN was leading by less than a percentage point. 

Trust Barometer: Abela trumps Grech but relative majority trust none 

In a clear signal of widespread disillusionment with the political establishment, 40.9% of participants in MaltaToday's October survey trust neither of the two major leaders. 

Political agnostics who neither trust Robert Abela nor Bernard Grech are now a relative majority. 

The Prime Minister enjoys a trust rating of 39.2%, while Grech trails far behind with 20%, a full 19 points behind the Prime Minister. 

Compared to July, Abela has practically retained the same trust rating while Grech has seen his trust rating plummet from 27%. 

On the other hand, respondents who trust neither leader have shot up from 33% to 41%. 

PN’s weakest link is Grech 

Moreover, in a sign that Bernard Grech’s leadership remains on shaky ground, a staggering 43% of PN voters in the 2022 general election, trust neither of the two political leaders. 

Grech’s plummeting trust rating comes in the wake of mounting speculation on his political future, following Roberta Metsola’s address to party faithful during the Independence Day mass meeting. 

Even among respondents who currently intend voting PN a substantial 34% trust neither Grech nor Abela. 

Only 50% of PN voters in 2022 trust their party leader more than Abela.  

Grech’s poor trust rating suggests that he remains his party’s weakest link in contrast to Abela who enjoys a higher level of trust among his party’s voters. 

While 7% of PN voters in 2022 trust Abela more than Grech only 3% of PL voters in 2022 trust Grech more than the Prime Minister. 

This suggests that Grech is not only failing to make any significant inroads among Labour voters but that Abela enjoys a greater appeal among voters of the opposite party than Grech does. 

Labour distrust translates into non-voters 

Abela is also more trusted than Grech by non-voters in the 2022 election. In this category Abela’s trust rating stands at 16%, while Grech only scrapes 5%. 

Still the situation is far from rosy for Abela who is distrusted by a substantial 27% of Labour voters in 2022, which is just two points lower than the percentage of Labour voters who intend not voting in a forthcoming general election. 

In contrast the percentage of PN voters who do not trust Grech (50%) is substantially higher than the 14% of PN voters who will not be voting in a forthcoming general election.    

This suggests that while a significant number of respondents would still vote PN despite their distrust of Grech, Labour voters who have lost their trust in the party leader are also more likely not to vote in an election.    

Absolute majority of under 50s trust neither 

The survey also shows that 51.2% of both 16- to 35-year-olds and 36- to 50-year-olds trust neither Abela nor Grech. 

A relative majority of 51- to 65-year-olds (41%) also trusts none of the two leaders. 

Grech registers his worst trust rating among those aged between 36 and 50, where he is only trusted by 11.8%. In this particular age group Abela leads Grech by a substantial 25 points. 

Abela’s lowest trust rating is among those aged between 16 and 35, where he clocks 33.2%, nearly 18 points in front of Grech, who is trusted by 15.7%. 

Both Grech and Abela enjoy their highest trust rating among over 65-year-olds where the percentage of respondents who trust neither of the two leaders drops to 23%. In this category Abela leads Grech by 15 points. 


Agnostics a majority in four regions 

A relative majority of respondents in four regions, namely the Northern Harbour (45%), the Western region (38%), the Northern region (43%) and Gozo (43%), trust neither of the two leaders. 

Significantly the percentage of respondents who trust neither leader is highest in Nationalist leaning regions and lower in Labour leaning ones. 

Abela enjoys a lead over Grech in all six regions but only registers an absolute majority in the South-Eastern region where 50.7% trust Abela. Grech’s worst performance is in the south east with only 11.5% of voters trusting him. 

Abela also enjoys a strong lead over Grech in the Southern Harbour region where 48% trust the Prime Minister and only 14% trust the Opposition leader. 

Distrust highest among the more educated 

The survey suggests that distrust in the current crop of political leaders is strongest among those with a higher level of education. In fact, while only 35% of those with a secondary level of education distrust both leaders, the percentage increases to 51% among those with a post-secondary level of education and to 52% among those with a university level of education. 

Abela leads Grech among voters of all levels of education but the gap increases to a substantial 23 points among those with a secondary level of education.