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MALTATODAY 14 March 2021

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14 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 14 MARCH 2021 NEWS THE latest MaltaToday survey held amidst a surge in COVID-19 cases before a new quasi-lockdown set in, showed 13% of Labour voters intent on not voting. Yet, there has been no significant shift to the PN. This suggests that the Opposition is still struggling to translate growing dissatisfaction with Robert Abela's mismanagement of a third pandem- ic wave into support for the PN. Why? So far disillusioned Labour voters are showing their disillusionment by saying they will abstain, not vote PN One major concern for Labour today is that it now registers a higher rate of abstention than the PN. Compared to October 2020, the abstention rate within Labour's voting base has shot up by 6 points. While 13% of PL voters in 2017 say they will not vote if an election is held now, 10% of PN voters in 2017 also say they will not vote. And the PN now retains higher percentage of voters from 2017 than Labour. But this in itself may be good news for Labour: instead of shift- ing to the PN, disillusioned La- bour voters are more likely not to vote. That abstention rate remains significantly high among young- er and tertiary-educated voters, where in both categories nearly a third remain undecided or intent on not voting. This explains why the PL media focuses so much on discrediting the opposition for its double standards and divisiveness. In this way it ensures that its own disillusioned voters remain parked among non-voters. But the major stumbling block for the opposition among M.O.R. voters is the difficulty they find in perceiving the PN as a viable alternative government, a percep- tion that can only be dispelled by generational change inside the party. Much now depends on La- bour's ability to lure these voters back. Bernard Grech's offensive on COVID-19 may be in synch with the concerns of a large segment of voters but still needs to be accom- panied by a compelling vision and team to implement it. The PN's losses to Labour cancel out gains made from winning over 2017 Labour voters: the PN needs to understand why Labour is an at- tractive prospect to its own voters. While 5.1% of PL voters in 2017 say they will vote PN now, 4.3% of PN voters in 2017 will vote PL. In numerical terms this suggests that while 8,720 PL voters will now vote PN, 5,835 PN voters will now vote PL. So the PN's gains among PL voters in the past election are still being partly offset by gains by Labour among the PN voters in 2017. The inability to stop the haemor- rhage to Labour at its worst mo- ment in this third COVID wave, is definitely bad news for the PN. In A mismanaged response to a third COVID-19 wave after Christmas has taken its toll on Robert Abela's Labour. But so far, the PN is not making any significant gains in the polls. James Debono gives 5 reasons why Why the PN is not gaining from Labour's losses 2017 Labour voters now intending not to vote compared to percentage of voters intending to vote PN 16 12 8 4 0 Oct 2020 Nov 2020 Jan 2021 Feb 2021 Mar 2021 7.1% 2.1% 9% 6.7% 6% 9.2% 4.1% 12.7% 5.1% Not Voting Voting PN How PN support under Grech changed since October 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 All PL 2017 PN 2017 16-35 36-50 51-65 65+ Primary Sec Post-Sec Tertiary Gozo N Harbour Northern Western Southeast S Harbour 32.6% 30% 5.2% 2.1% 28.2% 18.1% 29.2% 32.2% 31.6% 33% 40.4% 39% 40.3% 38.9% 35.5% 24.8% 23.3% 22.7% 29.4% 36.7% 22.3% 32.1% 42.2% 34.7% 39.6% 36.9% 26% 27.5% 28.3% 14.7% 25.4% 27.8% March 2021 Oct 2020 How Grech compares to his own party now 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 All PL 2017 PN 2017 16-35 36-50 51-65 65+ Primary Sec Post-Sec Tertiary Gozo N Harbour North West Southeast S Harbour 34.8% 32.6% 5.1% 4.4% 25.0% 28.2% 32.2% 29.2% 34.4% 31.6% 45.8% 40.4% 43.3% 40.3% 39.9% 35.5% 23.3% 23.7% 28.7% 29.4% 28.5% 22.3% 42.2% 40.7% 39.5% 39.6% 34.7% 26.0% 28.9% 28.3% 25.4% 30.1% Bernard Grech PN

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