A return to politics? Almost two-thirds of Labour voters agree with Joseph Muscat contesting next election

Yet only 30% of the total electorate would welcome a potential return by the former Prime Minister

61% of those who will vote for the Labour Party in the next election agree that Joseph Muscat ought to contest again, while 16% of voters say they would disagree with the move, according to a survey published in the newspaper ILLUM on Sunday.

The survey, carried out by Polar, asked respondents whether they agree with Joseph Muscat contesting the next election. This comes after Muscat said in an interview that he would not exclude a return to politics.

As would be expected, almost 89% of those who are set to vote for the Nationalist Party in the coming election completely disagree with the former Prime Minister’s return to politics, while less than 3% of this cohort agreed with him contesting again. Around 9% of respondents didn’t answer.

Overall, just over 30% of the Maltese electorate agree with Joseph Muscat returning to politics. Roughly 50% are against the move, and around 20% didn’t answer.

From those who voted for the Labour Party in the last general election, a bit less than 53% were in favour of Muscat’s return, while 23% were against.

A regional analysis of the survey shows that there was no absolute majority in favour of Muscat contesting the election again, even in the traditional Labour strongholds.

In the South Eastern region, around 43% of respondents wanted Muscat back in politics, while a bit less than 36% said otherwise.

However, a potential return to politics would be least supported in the Northern region, where just over 16% said they would like to see Muscat contest the next election. An absolute majority of 68% were completely against any return to politics.

Gozo was the most divided on the issue. A bit over 42% of Gozitans want to see Muscat contest the election, but almost 46% are against it.

Women appear more likely to support a return to politics from Joseph Muscat than men, although only 34% of female respondents said they would be happy with the choice – nearly 48% are against it.

Yet only 26% of men would agree with Muscat contesting the next election, while 52% of men are against this.

A look at the age groups indicates that 61% of people in the 16-35 cohort are completely against Muscat returning to politics, while 18% said they would be in favour.

Where education comes in, the higher the education level that less likely one is of supporting Muscat’s return to politics. In fact, only 14% of participants with a tertiary level of education responded in favour to the question. The absolute majority, at 68%, were against his return.

Meanwhile, among those with a primary level of education around 46% indicated that they were in favour of Muscat’s return to politics, while 40% were against.

Muscat resigned under a dark cloud in January 2020 after businessman Yorgen Fenech was arrested on suspicion of being the mastermind in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination. Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri resigned shortly after the arrest, as he owned several secret companies in Panama which were connected to Fenech’s offshore company 17 Black.

The events surrounding December 2019, including Fenech’s arrest and Schembri’s resignation, and mounting pressure from daily civil society protests led Muscat to end his term as Prime Minister prematurely.