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MALTATODAY 9 June 2019

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10 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 9 JUNE 2019 NEWS THE results of the European elections suggest that La- bourmade small gains over and above its support in the 2014 European elections, and the 2017 general elections. Indeed the gap between the two big parties was 7,376 votes higher than in the general elec- tion, but only 2,530 votes high- er if votes for PD candidates are deducted from the PN's general election tally. The PD roughly retained the same level of sup- port as in the 2017 general elec- tion. But in local elections, where small parties were absent in most localities, the PL made more substantial gains, with its lead increasing to 47,716 votes. This is 6,990 votes greater than the gap between the two big parties in 2017 (if PD votes are deducted) and 11,836 votes greater than the gap between Labour and the ForzaNazzjonalicoalition. Yet these comparisons do not take into consideration the fact that turnout in both MEP elec- tions and local elections was substantially lower than in the last general elections. Added to that is the possibility that PN abstentions were more pronounced among non-voters; and comparing local elections in 2019 with local elections in 2013 and 2015 is not reli- able, simply because turnouts on both occasions were higher when they coincided with gen- eral elections in 2013 and the 2015 hunting referendum. Soa more precise comparison is that with MEP elections in 2014. The gap between the two main parties increased by 8,899 votes since then, partly ex- plained by a 2-percentage point drop in turnout. There is no way to know which party was mostly penalised by this drop, and the gap between both ma- jor parties is impacted by the increase in third party votes in the 2019 MEP election. Moreover, any shift from the PN to the PL in these elections may well have been offset byLa- bourlosses to thefar-rightNor- man Lowell, with these votes returning to Labour in local elections. But there is no way through which one can verify such movements. Despite these uncertainties one can still establish a number of trends: although there is an indication of a higher absten- tion rate among former PN voters in both elections, a shift from the PN towards Labour, especially in local elections is plausible; and further number- crunching excludes a number of assumptions made in the past days. 1. No evidence that PN voters who voted Casa and Met- sola abstained in concurrent local elections The results show that practi- cally the sameamountof voters voted in both local and Europe- an elections. In fact, the turn- out in MEP elections was only 1,547 votes higher than in local elections. The percentage turn- out was 10 per cent lower in local council elections, but this discrepancy between the two elections may well be account- ed for by the larger number of registered voters who can vote in local elections (433,596 in lo- cal elections vs. 371,643 in MEP elections) mainly due to a larger number of foreigners who can vote. This suggests that the vast majority ofthose voting in MEP elections also voted in lo- cal elections. The only discrepancy between the two elections amounts to an additional 2,085 invalid votes in local elections over and above the 9,810 in MEP elec- tions, which may be explained by the absence of third parties in a large number of locali- ties. From this one can deduce Midterm results: Did PN voters stay at home or vote Labour? Is the widening gap between the two parties attributable to a higher abstention among the PN's cohort of voters or are there indications of yet another migration towards Labour? JAMES DEBONO DEBONO Gap Turnout PN vote PL vote Third party vote 2013 General Elections 35,107 309,600 132,426 167,533 5,597 2013/2015 Local Elections 33,178 291,270 121,012 154,190 6,520 2014 MEP Elections 33,757 257,588 100,705 134,462 16,604 2017 General Elections 35,280 314,966 135,696 170,976 2,993 2017 General (PN minus PD) 40,126 314,966 130,850 170,976 7,839* 2019 MEP Elections 42,656 270,022 98,611 141,267 19,654 2019 Local Elections 47,116 271,569 103,398 150,514 5,762 * including PD which contested election on same list of PN

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