Labour’s popularity has plummeted to its lowest in years as voters seemingly express their anger in the wake of the hospitals scandal.

But the PN has failed to gain any ground with most of Labour’s lost votes going towards third parties or abstentions, according to a new Times of Malta survey.

One year on from a landslide election victory, PL has seen its share of the vote drop to 51.6%, a 3.5% decrease from its performance in the election. This is the lowest registered count since the first wave of this political survey in July 2021.

PN has failed to attract disgruntled Labour voters, gaining just 1.2% since its heavy electoral defeat a year ago, to now stand at 42.9%. The PN’s share of the vote has remained largely stable since July 2021, with only marginal gains or decreases from one survey to the next.

The difference between the two parties is estimated to stand at 23,000 votes or 8.7%. In the 2022 election, the gap between the two parties stood at 39,474. That means the deficit has gone down by more than 16,000 votes in just a year. 

Some of the votes shed by Labour appear to have gone to third parties, which saw their share of the vote grow to 5.5%, over two percentage points higher than the 2022 election.

However, the share of people who do not intend to vote has ballooned to 27%, almost triple the 10% who failed to vote in the election. This would translate to 99,000 abstentions.

Although this increase in non-voters appears to be dramatic, past trends have shown that this figure is very likely to shrink drastically as an election approaches.

The survey, carried out by market research firm Esprimi, collected responses between March 9 and 16, just days after the courts declared the hospitals deal fraudulent and a year after an election that saw another landslide victory for the Labour Party.

Data scientists Lobeslab, Esprimi’s sister company, applied machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence together with weighting measures to predict voting intentions with near statistical certainty. Esprimi’s pre-election polls last year predicted the electoral result almost perfectly.

Over half PL voters not satisfied with government performance

The survey reveals a markedly high level of dissatisfaction among PL voters. Asked to rate the government’s performance, 52% of PL voters viewed it as average or below average, with only 48% judging it favourably.

This is in stark contrast with the government’s performance in previous surveys, where a positive assessment from its own voters never dipped below 73% and regularly topped 80%.

Likewise, only 13% of people who did not vote last election gave a positive assessment of the government’s performance, compared to the 42% who viewed it negatively.

Previous surveys only asked respondents to give either a positive or negative assessment of the government's performance, whereas the most recent wave also allows them to describe it as average. For this reason, the findings of this wave would need to be confirmed in future surveys.

Generally, satisfaction with the government’s performance tends to increase with age, with only 14% of people under the age of 25 giving a positive assessment, compared to 46% of people over 65. For most other age groups, approval ranged between 22% and 26%.

PL-leaning districts such as the Southern Harbour and South-Eastern districts tend to express higher levels of satisfaction with the government's performance, compared to the traditional PN-strongholds of the Northern Harbour and northern districts.

Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of Gozitan voters describe the government's performance as average, with the remaining third evenly split between a positive and negative assessment.

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