Almost three quarters of voters disagree with the Prime Minister’s reaction to the driving test scandal according to a Times of Malta survey.
Shortly after the racket was revealed, Abela defended the ministers and public officials who helped people get fast-tracked for their driving test, saying “that is the way the political system works”.
“What the minister and his secretariat did form part of the ways in which a minister is expected to operate”, he added, saying that ministers’ secretariats employ people to help people with their daily needs, regardless of their political orientation.
“This is one of the main functions that a politician has in the Maltese political system.”
The survey, carried out by market research firm Esprimi, gathered responses from 600 people between October 14 and 26.
The survey reveals that only just over one in ten voters agrees with this statement, with an overwhelming majority saying they disagree.
In total, 71% of all people surveyed said that they do not agree, easily eclipsing the 12% who said that they do. A further 17% refused to be drawn into the issue.
How PN and PL voters responded
As expected, PN voters were far more adamant in their rejection of the Prime Minister’s statement, with over 91% of people who either voted for PN in last year’s election would vote for PN if an election were to be held tomorrow saying that they disagreed.
Although less vocal in their views, non-voters also overwhelmingly say that they do not agree, with only 8% of people who would not vote in an election today agreeing with the Prime Minister. By contrast, 72% said that they do not agree.
The statement is also far from popular amongst PL voters, albeit to a slightly lesser extent.
Only a third of people who would vote for PL today agree with the statement, while almost half say that they do not agree.
This dips even further for people who said that they voted for PL in last year’s election. Only just over one in five in this group say that they are in agreement with the Prime Minister, compared to 58% who say that they do not agree.
Women and Gozitans less willing to comment
Curiously, women seem to be more reluctant to air their views on the matter, compared to men.
A quarter of all women surveyed refused to say whether they agreed with the Prime Minister’s statement or not, compared to just 8% of men.
As a result, the survey found that a relatively smaller share of women either said that they agree (11% compared to 13% of men) or disagree (64% versus 79% of men) with the Abela’s assertion.
Likewise, many people in Gozo also chose to remain tight-lipped, with over 30% unwilling to take a side. Of the remaining Gozitan respondents, over half say that they do not believe that providing this kind of help is part of a politician’s duties, while only 13% say that it is.
Employers, insurers and doctors criticise Abela’s comments
Abela’s dismissive response to the racket drew the ire of employers, who described it as “a radical invitation to anarchy”.
At the time the Malta Employers Association said that Abela’s reaction “encourages individuals and businesses to bypass what should be established and trusted structures to either get fast-tracked to obtain what they are eligible for, or worse, to acquire entitlements which they should never have at the expense of others”
Several other organisations, including insurers and doctors focused on road safety, made similar arguments, saying that any licences granted through these back-channel requests should be reviewed.