Roberta Metsola leads Alex Agius Saliba for top spot in MEP election

MaltaToday survey: CANDIDATES FIRST CHOICE | Roberta Metsola 16%; Alex Agius Saliba 8% 

EU parliament President and PN candidate Roberta Metsola is in pole position in the race for Malta’s six seats in the EU parliament. She is followed at a distance by Labour candidate and MEP incumbent Alex Agius Saliba. 

While 16% declared their intention to vote for the PN’s front runner, 8% intend to vote for Agius Saliba.  

The two front runners are the only two candidates on both sides to score above 2%. This means that the results of all the other candidates fall within the survey’s margin of error and therefore should be treated with caution. 

Moreover, 50% of Maltese voters still have to make up their mind on which candidate they intend voting for in next month’s MEP election. 

The indecision is even greater among current Labour voters; 60% of which are still undecided which candidate should get their number one vote. 

The higher indecision among Labour voters reflects the absence of any incumbent on the list except for Agius Saliba. But it could also be an indication that some Labour voters were still holding back their vote, pending a decision by the party on a possible candidature by former party leader Joseph Muscat. 

The survey was conducted towards the end of April before nominations opened.

The race within the PN 

PN MEP candidates for the 2024 European election
PN MEP candidates for the 2024 European election

A breakdown by party allegiance shows that 46% of current PN voters are already committed to give Roberta Metsola their first preference. She is followed by Peter Agius at 2.5% with other candidates, including incumbent MEP David Casa and veteran MP David Agius, trailing at less than 1%. 

But David Casa is set to inherit most votes from Metsola. When Metsola voters were asked who they intend to give their second preference, 33% said they would opt for Casa while 15% opted for Peter Agius. 

This suggests that if the PN wins three seats, Casa and Peter Agius are the most likely to get elected alongside Metsola. But if the PN fails in its target and elects two seats, Casa could outpace Agius once Metsola’s second preferences are distributed.  

But with 43% of PN voters still undecided, the race for the PN’s second and potential third seat remains wide open.

The race within Labour 

PL MEP candidates for the 2024 European election
PL MEP candidates for the 2024 European election

The race among current Labour voters is even tighter. While incumbent Alex Agius Saliba is the undisputed front runner with the support of 20% of current Labour voters, the race for Labour’s other seats remains wide open. 

In terms of first preference votes, Steve Ellul, a financial analyst and former CEO of Project Green, is in second place with the support of 5% of current Labour voters followed by economist Clint Azzopardi Flores at 2.6%. 

But lawyer Daniel Attard is attracting the largest number of second preferences from Agius Saliba (22%) followed by Azzopardi Flores at 13% and Steve Ellul at 10%. 

Also, up for grabs are the 2.4% of Labour voters who still intend giving their first preference to Joseph Muscat in a survey held just before nominations were officially presented. 

But as things stand it is clear that if Labour manages to win four seats Ellul, Attard and Azzopardi Flores are the most likely to join incumbent Agius Saliba in Brussels. However, if Labour were to lose a seat, the survey suggests a very tight race between the three male new comers. 

Labour risks all male representation 

The survey also suggests a strong possibility of an all-male representation for the PL. The survey shows Claudette Abela Baldacchino and Marija Sara Vella Gafa making no substantial inroads in a race dominated by male candidates. 

Even in the PN, apart from front runner Metsola, none of the other female candidates have gained traction among voters.

Cassola and Lowell lead third party pack 

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola scores 0.9%
Independent candidate Arnold Cassola scores 0.9%

The survey shows that Norman Lowell, a white supremacist and self-avowed ‘racialist’, is the most popular third party candidate even if he only attracts 1% of first preference votes. Lowell is just ahead of Arnold Cassola who scores 0.9%. 

AD candidates Ralph Cassar (0.5%) and Sandra Gauci (0.1%) are attracting the support of 0.6% together. No other third party candidate was mentioned by respondents. 

This suggests that a significant portion of the 5% of voters currently opting for a third party are still undecided for which candidate they intend voting for. 

Imperium Europa's Norman Lowell leads the third party pack just ahead of Cassola
Imperium Europa's Norman Lowell leads the third party pack just ahead of Cassola

The survey was held before the submission of nominations of candidates standing for MEP elections which included 13 independents and nine third party candidates. 

This means that respondents were not aware that some of these candidates were even standing. 

The survey does not indicate any substantial amount of cross party voting except for 2% of Metsola voters who intend giving their second preference to Labour candidate Alex Agius Saliba while 1% intend giving their second preference to Arnold Cassola. Only 0.5% of Agius Saliba voters mentioned Norman Lowell as their second preference choice.

Metsola strongest in Gozo 

A breakdown by region shows that Agius Saliba is strongest in the South-Eastern region (11%), while Metsola is strongest in Gozo (20%) and the North Harbour region (18%). 

Labour’s Thomas Bajada is attracting 5% of preferences in Gozo from where he hails. Bajada emerges as the third preferred candidate in Gozo after Metsola (20%) and Agius Saliba (7%). However, he makes no inroads in the other regions. 

Metsola leads Agius Saliba in all regions except the South Harbour, where the two candidates are neck and neck. 

Roberta Metsola leads in all regions except the South Harbour
Roberta Metsola leads in all regions except the South Harbour

Labour candidate Steve Ellul is also strongest in the South-Eastern region (4.8%). 

Norman Lowell scores his best result in the Northern region (2.4%) which includes St Paul’s Bay and in the Western region (2.3%). 

Green politician Ralph Cassar, a former local councillor in Attard, also gets his best result (1.6%) in the Western region. 

A breakdown by gender does not suggest major differences in the choices made by female and male voters. 

Alex Agius Saliba is slightly preferred more by male voters
Alex Agius Saliba is slightly preferred more by male voters

While Metsola is chosen by 16.5% of female and 16% of male voters, Agius Saliba is slightly more preferred by males (9%) than females (7%). 

Both Metsola and Agius Saliba are strongest among pensioners. Within this age group 24% opt for Metsola while 10% for Agius Saliba. But the higher support for the two front runners in this age group simply reflects the higher number of undecided in the other age groups, particularly those aged between 16 to 35 amongst which 60% are undecided. 

In the 16 to 35 year olds, only 7% say they will be voting Metsola while 4% will be voting for Agius Saliba. 

Lowell is strongest among 36 to 50 year olds (3%) while Ralph Cassar get his best result (2%) among 16 to 35 year olds.