Ma­jor­ity be­lieve gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - He­lena Grech

Nearly half of re­spon­dents, 47 %, be­lieve that the gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt, ac­cord­ing to the Novem­ber edi­tion of the iSur­vey com­mis­sioned by The Malta In­de­pen­dent.

Re­spon­dents were asked a straight­for­ward ques­tion: Do you think the gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt? Over­all, 47.02% be­lieve so, 37.83% re­ject this no­tion, 13.45% are un­de­cided while 1.64% re­fused to an­swer the ques­tion.

The Op­po­si­tion has car­ried out an on­go­ing cam­paign against cor­rup­tion, mak­ing it top of the agenda when crit­i­cis­ing the gov­ern­ment.

The gov­ern­ment’s last three and a half years have been char­ac­terised by two main fea­tures: Strong eco­nomic suc­cess and an un­usu­ally high num­ber of scan­dals.

Malta, over the last three and a half years, has ex­pe­ri­enced the low­est lev­els of un­em­ploy­ment in its history, fast paced eco­nomic growth, is near­ing a bal­anced gov­ern­ment bud­get, has made some ma­jor im­prove­ments in the pub­lic health sec­tor and has at­tracted some ma­jor in­vest­ments.

For a pro­por­tion of the elec­torate how­ever, this has been over­shad­owed by the con­tro­ver­sial €3 mil­lion gov­ern­ment ex­pro­pri­a­tion deal on a prop­erty of Old Mint Street known as the ‘Gaf­farena scan­dal, the €4 mil­lion Cafe Premier deal, the Aus­tralia Hall saga, the ICIJ’s rev­e­la­tions of the Panama Pa­pers scan­dal – heav­ily im­pli­cat­ing no-port­fo­lio min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi and the Prime Min­is­ter’s chief of staff Keith Schem­bri and the build­ing of an Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Malta in an Out­side De­vel­op­ment Zone at Żon­qor.

The hedg­ing agree­ment be­tween Ene­malta and Azer­bai­jani en­ergy com­pany SOCAR had also made head­lines, af­ter a Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice re­port found that the ill-timed hedg­ing saw Mal­tese tax­pay­ers lose out €14 mil­lion. Ac­cu­sa­tions of cor­rup­tion stemmed from the de­gree of min­is­te­rial in­ter­fer­ence by no-port­fo­lio min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi, which he heav­ily de­nies. The pub­lic was un­able to de­ter­mine the de­gree of in­ter­fer­ence due to a lack of doc­u­men­ta­tion.

In ad­di­tion to this, the Libyan med­i­cal visa scan­dal where it was al­leged that for­mer health min­istry worker Neville Gafa took bribes in ex­change of is­su­ing such visas, the Al­ge­rian visa scan­dal where it was found that roughly 7,000 visas were is­sued to Al­ge­rian na­tion­als in the space of 18 months and lastly the In­di­vid­ual In­vest­ment Pro­gramme where it was found that a num­ber of per­sons who ap­plied un­der this scheme were given the right to vote in breach of Malta’s Con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ments.

Spread of PL and PN vot­ers

Un­sur­pris­ingly, when break­ing down the re­sults based on how re­spon­dents voted in the last gen­eral elec­tion (2013), 22.1% of Labour Party vot­ers be­lieve the gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt, 65.1% dis­agree, 11.7 were un­able to an­swer and the re­main­ing 1% re­fused.

When com­par­ing the way PL vot­ers an­swered this ques­tion dur­ing the April 2016 iSur­vey, it was found that the pro­por­tion of such vot­ers who be­lieve their gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt has risen by 4.74% (17.4% in April to 22.1% in Novem­ber), the pro­por­tion who dis­agree has de­clined by 4.3% (69.4% in April to 65.1% in Novem­ber), while the pro­por­tion of ‘don’t knows’ has also de­clined by 1.3%.

On the other side of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide, 80% of Na­tion­al­ist Party vot­ers be­lieve the gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt, 11.5% dis­agree and 7.7% are un­de­cided. Com­pared with how PN vot­ers re­sponded to this same ques­tion back in April, the pro­por­tion of PN vot­ers who be­lieve the gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt went up by 7.2% (from 72.8% to 80%), those who dis­agree went down by 1.7% (from 11.5% to 9.8%) while those who are un­de­cided went down by a sig­nif­i­cant 9.1% (from 16.8% to 7.7%).

It would there­fore ap­pear that, vot­ers from both sides of Malta’s po­lit­i­cal spec­trum are more in agree­ment than ever be­fore about the lev­els of cor­rup­tion found within the gov­ern­ment.

When look­ing at the gen­der split, more men than woman found the gov­ern­ment to be cor­rupt, at 48.6% and 45.4% re­spec­tively. When it comes to the pro­por­tion of male and fe­male vot­ers who dis­agree, the re­sults were al­most iden­ti­cal at 37.7% and 37.9% re­spec­tively. Fe­males were over­all more un­de­cided at 14.4% than their male coun­ter­parts, at 12.4%.

Younger peo­ple are more likely to find the gov­ern­ment to be cor­rupt, with 51.4% of 18-24 year-olds be­liev­ing so, fol­lowed by 45.7% of those aged 25-34, 40.6% of those aged 35-44, 43.1% of those aged 45-54, 39.6% of those aged 55-64 and lastly 32.8% of those aged 65+. The pro­por­tion of the 18-24 year-old co­hort who agree that the gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt has gone up from 36.1% to 51.4% be­tween April and Novem­ber.

Con­versely, older co­horts dis­agree with the no­tion that the gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt, with 33.3% of those aged be­tween 1824 dis­agree­ing. This fig­ure in­creases steadily un­til reach­ing the 65+ co­hort, 52.9% of which do not be­lieve the gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt.

This tal­lies with the 59.1% of re­spon­dents who be­lieve that the gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt but were in­el­i­gi­ble to vote in the last gen­eral elec­tion, pri­mar­ily due to not yet reach­ing 18+. Of this sec­tion, a sig­nif­i­cant 22.7% are still mak­ing up their mind on the lev­els of cor­rup­tion Malta is cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

The Novem­ber 2016 iSur­vey – the sixth of its kind – was com­mis­sioned to Busi­ness Lead­ers Malta on be­half of The Malta In­de­pen­dent. A to­tal of 600 re­spon­dents were used, representative of age, gen­der and spread of lo­cal­i­ties. With such a sam­ple size, the mar­gin of er­ror is +/4%. More info from the iSur­vey will con­tinue to emerge through­out this week.

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