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MALTATODAY 26 December 2021 LOOKING BACK edition

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8 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 26 DECEMBER 2021 NEWS Christmas specials • MaltaToday Surveys THE Labour Party has enjoyed an unassailable lead in the polls since the general election and 2021 has been no different. The last full year of the legis- lature has seen the PL retain a comfortable lead over the Na- tionalist Party, despite the Op- position's change in leader. It would appear Labour's unas- sailable lead has come to reflect a new normal in Maltese politics despite the controversies and corruption allegations that have hounded the administration. MaltaToday survey results show that the PL's average sup- port for 2021 stood at 43.3%, while that for the PN stood at 31.5% - a gap of almost 12 points. The closest the parties ever came was in April when the PN posted its best result at 35.6% and the PL was still recovering from its worst performance a month earlier. However, the gap in April still saw the PL ahead by 6.2 points. A year with two faces But a closer look shows there were two faces to 2021 with the two major parties experiencing opposite realities. Between January and June, sup- port for the PL averaged at 42.4% but improved by two points in the second half of 2021 to 44.3%. The PN experienced a differ- ent story. In the first six months, support for the PN averaged at 32.4% but dropped by two points to 30.5% between July and De- cember. The results suggest that the PL's fortunes are tied to the pan- demic and how the government handles the situation. At the start of the year, loose talk by the Prime Minister on how the country will get back to business as usual angered people as Malta experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases. The procrastination to adopt tough restrictions did not help and this was also reflected in the polls with Labour registering its worst result since 2017. In March, support for the PL stood at 39.2%, the first time it dipped below the 40% mark. But the polls immediately re- flected a positive response from voters the moment government acted decisively to bring the pan- demic under control. After June, when cases dwindled to insignif- icance and the vaccination drive had reached the vast majority of people, the PL's support in- creased and remained constant. Not even greylisting by the Fi- nancial Action Task Force dent- ed the PL's supremacy. One step forward, two steps back On the other hand, the lack of party unity appears to be the single most important issue that had an impact on the PN's for- tunes throughout 2021. With Bernard Grech elected PN leader in September 2020, the party started the new year on a positive note, registering im- proved results. The baby steps forward saw the PN scoring its highest re- sult since 2017 when in April it polled 35.6%. But the feel-good factor was lost a month later in the wake of a public tiff between MP Jason Azzopardi and former leader Adrian Delia that necessitated Grech's intervention. The Labour Party and its leaders have since the last general election enjoyed comfortable leads over the Nationalist Party and 2021 has confirmed this to be somewhat of a new normal. Kurt Sansone reports on a year of MaltaToday surveys Labour's unassailable lead: a new normal -5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 Mar-17 30-Apr-17 07-May-17 14-May-17 21-May-17 28-May-17 1-June-17 10-Oct-17 19-Nov-17 4-Feb-18 4-Mar-18 6-May-18 3-June-18 5-Aug-18 2-Sep t-18 7-Oct-18 34.8 36.4 37.4 40.9 40.2 41.1 40.4 46.4% 49.8% 42.0% 49.6% 45.8% 48.8% 52.0% 47.7% 30.8 32.8 34.1* 37* 36.6* 36.9* 35.5* 20.7% 28.9% 25.9% 32.1% 27.6% 24.8% 0.6 3.1% 0.5% 0.2% 0.2% 2.1% 0.4% 0.8 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.5 0.0% 0.0% 0.3% 10.6 11.3 15.4 11.9 13 15 12 12.9% 6.5% 17.4% 9.7% 9.7% 8.6 7.6 4.7 3 2.4 2.2 15.7% 10.3% 11.1% 10.7% 16.3% PL current abela 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 Jan Feb Mar 42.1% 41.7% 39.8% 34.7% 35.1% 34.8% 19.1% 14.0% 18.9% 4.1% 9.1% 6.5% Robert Average trust rating Robert Abela January – June 45.1% July – December 50.5% Full year 47.6% Average trust rating Bernard Grech January – June 32.6% July – December 28.1% Full year 30.6% Average PL support January – June 42.4% July – November 44.3% Full year 43.3% Average PN support January – June 32.4% July – November 30.5% Full year 31.5% KURT SANSONE

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