Younger age groups in­creas­ingly jaded with main­stream pol­i­tics

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - He­lena Grech

To­day’s youth is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly jaded with main­stream pol­i­tics, ac­cord­ing to the Novem­ber edi­tion of the iSur­vey com­mis­sioned by The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sunday.

In fact, when asked to rate the performance of the government and the Opposition, the low­est ap­proval rat­ings for both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide was from the youngest age group.

Con­versely, the older age group gave one side or the other the high­est per­cent­age of ap­proval rat­ings. Re­spon­dents were asked: ‘How do you rate the government’s performance?’ and ‘How do you rate the Na­tion­al­ist Party’s (PN) performance in Opposition?’

Over­all, those aged be­tween 35 and 44 gave the government the high­est ap­proval rat­ing, at 64.6 per cent, fol­lowed by those aged 65 or above at 61.3 per cent. The youngest age group, those be­tween 18 and 24, gave the government the low­est ap­proval rat­ing, with 54.2 per cent giv­ing the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion the thumbs up, 25 per cent dis­agree­ing and 20.8 per cent un­sure. That said, how­ever, all the age groups gave the government its ap­proval by more than 50 per cent.

Look­ing at the break­down by age for ap­proval of the Opposition, the sur­vey re­vealed that the youngest age group, 18-24, also gave the Opposition the low­est ap­proval rat­ings of all the age groups, at 29.2 per cent. A pro­por­tion of 47.2 per cent of that age group dis­ap­prove of the Opposition’s performance, while 23.6 per cent are un­sure. The old­est age group gave the high­est ap­proval rat­ings to the Opposition, at 41.2 per cent, with the same per­cent­age – 41.2 per cent – dis­agree­ing and 17.6 per cent be­ing un­sure.

Rather than try­ing to as­cer­tain whether young peo­ple – and older vot­ers – pre­fer the government or the Opposition, the re­sults clearly in­di­cate that the younger groups are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly frus­trated with both main­stream par­ties, while the older groups have kept in line with the more tra­di­tional views of politi­cians.

Over­all, 54.4 per cent rate the government’s performance favourably, 30.4 per cent dis­agree and 15.2 per cent could not give an an­swer ei­ther way. Com­pared with the April iSur­vey, it was found that 40.8 per cent con­sider the government’s performance good, 40.3 per cent view it un­favourably and 19 per cent could not de­cide.

This shows that the government’s performance ap­proval rat­ings have shot up by 13.6 per­cent­age points, com­pared with the last sur­vey, while the pro­por­tion that is un­happy fell by 9.9 per­cent­age points.

Re­gard­ing the performance of the Opposition, 33.7 per cent are happy, 45.4 per cent are dis­sat­is­fied and 20.8 per cent are un­de­cided. Com­pared with the April iSur­vey re­sults, performance ap­proval fell by 0.8 per­cent­age points (from 34.5 per cent to 33.7 per cent), dis­sat­is­fac­tion in­creased rose by 4.5 per­cent­age points (from 41 per cent to 45.4 per cent) and those who were un­de­cided was 3.8 per­cent­age points lower (from 24.6 per cent to 20.8 per cent).

There has been a de­cline in the per­cent­age of ap­proval rat­ings for the government over the last two years, with the iSur­vey in De­cem­ber 2014 record­ing 59.7 per cent, that in April 2015 show­ing 58 per cent and the one in April this year show­ing 40.8 per cent. So this is the first time the ap­proval rat­ing for the government has in­creased since 2014.

While the Opposition con­sis­tently reg­is­tered an in­crease in its ap­proval rat­ing be­tween De­cem­ber 2014 and April 2016, the Novem­ber iSur­vey found no change in the way the performance of the Opposition is per­ceived. April 2016 reg­is­tered an ap­proval rat­ing of 34.5 per cent, the same as in this month’s sur­vey.

PL and PN voter split

Those who voted PL in the 2013 gen­eral elec­tion re­sponded as fol­lows: 83.2 per cent of PL vot­ers view the government’s performance as pos­i­tive, 9.1 per cent view it as neg­a­tive and 7.7 per cent could not say.

This marks an in­crease in ap­proval among party vot­ers be­tween last April and now of 10.5 per­cent­age points, from 72.7 per cent to the cur­rent 83.2 per cent. The pro­por­tion of PL vot­ers who rate the government’s ap­proval poorly has now fallen from 14.5 per cent in April to 11.7 per cent.

While the government has made sig­nif­i­cant gains, it has still has not man­aged to climb back to the 91

per cent ap­proval rat­ing PL vot­ers awarded it back in the April 2015 iSur­vey.

This all in­di­cates that, the ‘Panama Pa­pers’ scan­dal, which un­folded while the April 2016 iSur­vey was be­ing car­ried out, has had the big­gest im­pact on the way the government is viewed, to the ex­tent that it has been un­able to re­build the trust lost when the scan­dal erupted.

Of those who voted for the PN in the last gen­eral elec­tion, 26.9 per cent view the government’s performance favourably, 58.4 per cent dis­agree and the re­main­ing 14.6 per cent were un­de­cided.

Com­pared with the April 2016 iSur­vey re­sults, the PN vot­ers’ ap­proval rat­ing has risen sig­nif­i­cantly, from 6.3 per cent to 26.9 per cent. Ac­cord­ing to the April 2015 re­sults, in which 29.5 per cent of PN vot­ers found the government’s performance ac­cept­able, this fur­ther un­der­scores that the ‘Panama Pa­pers’ scan­dal had a hugely neg­a­tive im­pact on the way both PN and PL vot­ers view the government.

As can be seen from the re­sults, the government has made gains, but not enough to reach the April 2015 ap­proval and trust rat­ings.

In April 2016, a sig­nif­i­cant 84 per cent of PN vot­ers dis­ap­proved of the government’s performance, a fig­ure that has plunged to 58.4 per cent now.

Re­gard­ing how PL vot­ers view the Opposition’s performance, 11.7 per cent view it favourably, 72.1 per cent do not and a to­tal of 16.1per cent could not de­cide ei­ther way. Over the past three surveys, PL vot­ers have con­sis­tently viewed the Opposition un­favourably, with the pro­por­tion rang­ing from 68.3per cent last year to 72.1 per cent now.

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