Is Malta a ‘mafia state’? We polled people on five sets of perceptions

Poltical party allegiance weighs heavily on people’s judgement 

A banner strung up on Valletta’s ramparts during the first demonstration after Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder read ‘mafia state’.

It was echoing the words of Matthew Caruana Galizia, who in a pugnacious Facebook post laid the blame for his mother’s murder at Joseph Muscat’s feet.

The description ‘mafia state’ continued to resonate in the weeks that followed but despite the emphasis an absolute majority of Maltese disagree with the label, according to a perceptions survey carried out by MaltaToday.

People were asked about their level of agreement or disagreement with five statements linked to the rule of law.

The findings showed that 55.7% disagreed with the statement ‘Malta is a mafia state’, while only 13.5% agreed with it. Another 29.5% fell within the middle category that groups those who do not have strong opinions on the matter.

However, while party allegiance appears to play an important role in determining how people assessed the five situations presented to them, the results for Nationalist Party voters are indicative of split loyalties.

While 87% of Labour Party voters in the last election disagreed with the statement that Malta is a mafia state, the corresponding number for PN voters stood at 19.7%.

Among PN voters the sentiment in favour of such a statement was not as strong as one would expect with 21.4% indicating they agreed Malta is a mafia state. Only 3.7% of PL voters agreed with this statement.

The absolute majority of PN voters, 57.1%, fell within the middle category as did 8.3% of PL voters.

It has to be noted that last Sunday, PN leader Adrian Delia insisted Malta was not a mafia state, departing from statements to the contrary made by several party exponents, including his justice spokesperson Jason Azzopardi.

Climate of fear

Another difference along political lines was evident when people were asked whether they agreed that ‘there is a climate of fear in the country after Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder’.

The overall result showed an absolute majority (51.5%) disagreeing with the statement as opposed to 26.3% who agreed.

Among PL voters, 79.1% disagreed there is a climate of fear while 9.9% agreed with this statement. The corresponding numbers for PN voters were 16% and 48.1% respectively. A strong minority of 35.9% of PN voters stood in the middle category.

Police chief

There were no undivided loyalties, however, when people were asked whether they agreed that ‘the police commissioner is performing his job well’. The split along party lines was the most polarised of the five statements.

The overall result delivered a thumbs up for the police commissioner. A relative majority of 41.5% agreed he is doing a good job. But 38.5% of people believe the police chief is not performing well.

Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar has been a target for activists from the Civil Society Network and Occupy Justice, organisations that have called for his head in the wake of the Caruana Galizia murder. The Opposition has also called for Cutajar’s removal.

But the applause Cutajar received from PL supporters as he exited the official ceremony in which Muscat was sworn in as Prime Minister last June, continued to resonate several months later with 73.5% of PL voters agreeing he is doing a good job. In stark contrast, 77.8% of PN voters believe the police chief is not doing a good job.


The survey gave a more balanced result when people were asked for their assessment of the statement ‘everywhere you look there is corruption’.

A relative majority of 36.9% disagreed with the statement while 27.1% agreed with it. Another 35% stood in the middle ground.

Once again, PL voters appeared more homogenous as 64.8% disagreed that corruption is everywhere while 8.7% agreed. A quarter of PL voters stood in the middle category.

Among PN voters only 3.9% disagreed with the statement while 50% agreed corruption is everywhere. However, a strong minority of 46.1% of PN voters stood in the middle ground, indicative of a tepid approach to the party’s four-year-long anti-corruption campaign that failed to translate into victory at the polls last June.

Doing well

The survey also showed a wide consensus that the country is doing well, which is indicative of the feel-good factor generated by the strong economic performance and one that the government has been milking.

Asked to assess the statement ‘the country is doing well’, 62.4% of respondents agreed with it while 12.8% disagreed. A quarter of respondents (24.2%) stood in the middle ground.

As expected, PL voters expressed almost absolute agreement with the statement (95%). Likewise there were 25.1% of PN voters who agreed the country is doing well.

Another 25.6% of PN voters disagreed with the statement but a relative majority of 48.2% occupied the middle ground.