Government scrapes pass mark again, but outlook remains gloomy

In the aftermath of the budget, government scores 2.6 marks out of five on MaltaToday’s government performance barometer, while the percentage of those who think the country has taken a wrong turn has decreased from 69% to 65%. JAMES DEBONO reports.

Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

The budget has not drastically changed the public mood as nearly two thirds of respondents still feel that Malta “is going in the wrong direction”, MaltaToday’s November shows.

But compared to last month the percentage of those who think the country is “going in the right direction” has increased from 31% to 35%.

This was the second time that respondents were asked to state whether they feel the country is going in a wrong or a right direction.

Significantly the survey shows that the least optimistic remain those aged between 36 to 50, among whom those who think the country has taken a wrong turn have slightly declined from 79% last month to 77% now.

The survey shows that this category which is more likely to include parents at the peak of their working career was also the least positive in its assessment of the budget.

In contrast, among younger respondents aged between 16 to 35, the percentage who think that the country “is going in the wrong direction” has declined from 77% to 68%.   

Among 51- to 65-year-olds the percentage who think the country has taken a wrong turn has remained stable at 67%.

But 65-year-olds remain the most optimistic category with the percentage of those who think the country has taken a wrong turn declining from 56% last month to 51% now.

The increase in optimism in this category corresponds to other survey results showing gains by the Labour Party and a positive assessment of the budget among this category.

A regional breakdown shows the percentage of respondents with a gloomy outlook on the country’s direction increasing in the Labour leaning Southeastern region (from 61% to 69%) and Gozo (from 55% to 60%).

But the percentage of those with a negative outlook has decreased in all other regions, particularly in the Northern region (from 77% to 61%).

Significantly the survey suggests that non-voters have become slightly more positive in their outlook after the budget, with the percentage of those who think the country has taken a wrong turn declining from 87% last month to 77% now.

Inflation still biting hard but pensioners feel better

But while the survey suggests a less gloomy outlook, the survey confirms that inflation is biting hard on personal incomes.

The survey asked respondents whether in general their personal finances are getting better or worse.

This month’s survey shows the percentage who feel a pinch in their income increasing from 39% last month to 44% now.  This corresponded to a four-point decrease in the percentage of respondents who say their financial position remains unchanged and a two-point increase who think that their financial position is improving.

But over 65-year-olds are defying this national trend. In fact, among this category 38% have reported an improvement in their financial position up from 30% last month.

Among pensioners those reporting a deterioration in their income have declined from 34% in October to 28%.

In contrast among those aged between 36 and 50 the percentage reporting a decline in their income has increased from 43% last month to 51% now.

Pensioners and Gozitans give highest score to government

Despite a general climate of pessimism, the survey still shows the government scraping the pass mark in MaltaToday’s government performance barometer. The survey which asks respondents to rate the government led by Robert Abela on a score board of between 0 (very bad) and 5 (very good).  The survey shows the Abela government getting a 2.6 mark rating up from 2.5 last month.

A breakdown by age shows the government getting its best rating among over 65-year-olds who give the Abela government a rating of three points up from 2.7 last month.

The government once again gets its worse score among 36- to 50-year-olds (2.3 down from 2.4 last month).

On a regional level the government is given the best rating in Gozo (3.2 up from 2.6 last month) and its lowest rating in the north harbour region (2.3 down from 2.5).

A breakdown by education shows the government getting its best score among those with a primary level of education (3.2 up from 2.9 last month) and its worse score tertiary educated respondents (2.3 down from 2.4 last month).

Significantly the government only gets a rating of 2.2 among the current crop of non-voters.

The survey was carried out was carried between 1st November 2023 and 9th November 2023 for which 637 people opted to complete the survey.  Stratified random sampling based on region, gender and age was used.  A fraction of those who opted to complete the survey chose not to answer a few of the questions for which they are treated as missing values. Missing values analysis  was  then  carried  to  determine  the  type  of  technique  to  replace  the  values.  A combination  of  logistic  and  linear  regression  with  predictive  mean  matching  was  used  to replace certain missing values completing and enlarging the sample set from which the final results were extracted.

The margin of error for this result 3.85% for a confidence interval of 95%.