MaltaToday Survey | Concern on corruption grows to all-time high

Corruption increases by 5 points, emerging as top concern of switchers and PN voters, while Opposition’s tactics become a main concern for PL voters

MaltaToday survey shows that public concern on corruption has reached an all-time high
MaltaToday survey shows that public concern on corruption has reached an all-time high

A MaltaToday survey conducted in the last week of May shows that concern on corruption has reached an all-time high of 18%, and is only second to traffic in the list of national concerns. 

Significantly, corruption tops the list of concerns of switchers – voters who voted PN in 2008 and then PL in 2013 – 33% of which mentioned it as one of the two most pressing concerns.

Concern on corruption has also increased by 8 points among Labour voters in 2013.

Moreover 10% of respondents mentioned the Panama Papers as a top concern. These included 17% of switchers and 8% of Labour voters. 

In the survey, respondents were asked to state the two greatest problems facing the country. Respondents were not prompted with a list of answers.

The survey indicates that bread and butter issues have been eclipsed by the concerns related to governance. In fact, concern on the cost of living jobs and low income has decreased marginally by 2 and 5 points respectively. Only 1.3% expressed a concern on the economy.

But the sharpest decrease was registered in concern on parking (-9 points), immigration (-10 points) and buses (-8 points). Concern on traffic and the environment both declined by 4 points while concern on the state of the roads remained the same. This suggests that corruption is seen as a more pressing issue among respondents at this particular moment.

The Opposition as a ‘problem’

In a reflection of increased polarisation and political tension, one-fifth of Labour voters consider the Nationalist opposition as one of the two greatest problems facing the country. Among PN voters, less than 1% mentioned the government or the Labour party as a national problem.

A new concern emerging from this survey is that politicians and politics in general constitute a national problem. This concern is strongest among switchers, 17% of which consider politicians as the country’s main problem. But 6% of PN voters in 2013 and 8% of PL voters in 2013 also express this concern. This could reflect the tit-for-tat in corruption allegations in the wake of the Panama scandal.

Interestingly 26% of respondents who express a concern on politicians in general said they would not vote in a general election, and 48% are undecided.

This could reflect a reaction to the quality of political debate, as government and opposition engage in partisan trench warfare following the Panamagate scandal. 

The survey shows that traffic and corruption are the major concern of voters who say they will not vote in a forthcoming election. But among undecided voters, corruption falls to third place after traffic and immigration.

The rise of corruption as a concern

A comparison of surveys conducted in past two years shows that traffic has consistently dominated the list of concerns, with concern on this issue rising from just 7% in March 2014 to 24% in January 2016.

Despite a 4-point drop, traffic remains the most pressing concern.

Concern on corruption has risen from 0% to 7% after the Gaffarena scandal, rising to 14% just before Panamagate and to 18.4% now.

Concern on immigration remained one of the top two concerns in the whole period between March 2014 and January 2016, only to drop to fourth place in May.

Concern on low income has surpassed concern on jobs. While concern on jobs dropped from 21% in March 2014 to just 3% now, concern on low income doubled from 5% in March 2014 to 10% in January, dropping to 8% in May. Interestingly in May, concern on low incomes surpassed concern on price inflation.

A comparison with surveys held before the 2013 general election shows a sharp change in the concerns of the public. While concern on utility bills peaked at 50% in February 2010, less than 1% express this concern now. On the other hand concern on corruption which never surpassed the 3% mark between 2008 and 2013 has now hit the 18% mark. 

Methodology

The survey was held between Monday 23 and Thursday 26 May. The results were weighed to reflect the age and gender balance of the population. 821 respondents were contacted. 500 respondents accepted to participate in the survey. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.3 points.

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