Malta’s corruption crisis: 89% now believe it is widespread

In two years, the Maltese sentiment that corruption is widespread has grown by 10 points, according to a Eurobarometer survey

A placard at an anti-corruption protest called by the Nationalist Party soon after the revelations of the Panama Papers in March 2016. The placard reads: 'Who does not fight corruption, is corrupt'. Photo: Ray Attard
A placard at an anti-corruption protest called by the Nationalist Party soon after the revelations of the Panama Papers in March 2016. The placard reads: 'Who does not fight corruption, is corrupt'. Photo: Ray Attard

A staggering 89% of Maltese believe corruption in Malta is “widespread” and this sentiment grew by 10 points in just two years.

A Eurobarometer survey gauged public sentiment on corruption with 500 face-to-face interviews were carried out between 6 and 9 December 2019, at the height of the political crisis prompted by the arrest of Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech on suspicion of being the mastermind in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination.

The figure is higher than the EU27 average of 71%. Only 5% of Maltese respondents said corruption was “rare” in Malta.

Over two years between Labour’s re-election in 2017, the Maltese also said corruption had increase – this figure of respondents grew by 20 points to 74%, again way higher than the 42% EU average.

The Maltese said they agreed that there was corruption in local councils (71%) and in national institutions (79%).

And again growing by 22 points over two years, 54% of respondents declared they were personally affected by corruption in daily life. 35% disagreed with the statement.

The Maltese said bribes in political parties were widespread (60% said ‘yes’), as well as to politicians personally (48%), in the award of building permits (49%), business permits (39%), and among police (34%).

The Maltese said corruption was mainly caused by the close links between politics and business (82%), and that favouritism hampered business competition (77%). They also believe corruption is part of business culture in Malta (71%) and in the most contrasting view to the EU average, that succeeding in business requires political connections (70% vs 51%).

Despite these beliefs, only 7% claimed they had witnessed a case of corruption in the last 12 months. But 35% said there was no protection for those who report corruption, and 33% said those responsible go unpunished.

The survey, conducted in December, also gave wide berth to the police, with 43% trusting the corps to handle their corruption complaint, even more than the courts (12%) and EU institutions (14%).

Despite this belief of widespread corruption, the Maltese were less inclined than EU counterparts to believe that giving money (9% said it was acceptable as against 85%), gifts (19% vs 75%), or favours (14% vs 80%) was acceptable to obtain something from public administration.

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