MaltaToday Survey | People agree: Muscat must go

Reeling under immense internal pressure and mounting protests, Joseph Muscat announced last Sunday he would be stepping down in January. How did people judge his decision?

People watched with bated breath the televised address in which Joseph Muscat last Sunday announced he would be stepping down on 12 January.

His announcement was inevitable in the face of mounting protests and internal party pressure but survey results suggest the decision has split opinion in the country.

Muscat’s terms of departure were welcomed by 43.2% of people polled in a MaltaToday survey that asked whether they agreed with the Prime Minister’s decision to step down in January.

Nationalist voters were more welcoming of the decision than Labour voters. The results show that 48.7% of those who voted PN in the last general election agreed with the departure in January. On the other hand, 37.8% of Labour voters supported the PM’s decision.

Gozo was the only region where Muscat’s decision was welcomed by a majority. On the sister island, 62.4% agreed that the PM should step down in January.

Consensus to leave

However, overall, there were 56.8% who disagreed with Muscat’s decision.

When asked what alternative course of action the Prime Minister should have taken, just over a quarter (26.4%) of these believed Muscat should have carried on with his mandate, and a slightly larger cohort (27.3%) wanted him to resign immediately and have his deputy Chris Fearne serve as acting prime minister.

Almost half (46.3%) of those who did not agree with Muscat’s decision, were however, unable to say what course of action the Prime Minister should have taken.

Half of Labour voters (50.3%) who did not agree with Muscat’s decision believed he should have carried on with his mandate, while 7.5% felt that he should have resigned immediately. The rest (42.2%) could not say what should have happened.

Nationalist voters who disagreed with the Prime Minister’s terms of departure, were less forgiving. Of these, half (50.6%) expected him to resign immediately and have Chris Fearne appointed acting prime minister. Only 1.8% of PN voters suggested Muscat should continue with his mandate, with the rest (47.7%) unsure of what should have happened.

The results suggest that Muscat’s announcement to leave next year when his party would have elected its leader left many people confused and fragmented public opinion.

However, there appears to be a broad consensus that Muscat’s position was no longer tenable.