The Maltese are a third less likely to vote in this year’s European elections compared to their EU counterparts, according to a recent Eurobarometer report.

While 77% of Europeans said they were likely to vote in this year’s upcoming MEP elections, this figure dropped to 52% in Malta, around a third less than the EU average.

Should that result play out come June, it will represent a dramatic shift for both Malta and the broader EU: when voters last elected MEPs in 2019, turnout in Malta stood at 72.7% versus the 50.7% EU average.  

Just more than 500 Maltese respondents took part in the survey carried out between January 11 and February 15.

The ‘Public Opinion in the EU’ regions study found that while more than half (57%) of Europeans on average were very likely to vote in the upcoming EP elections, less than a third (29%) of Maltese felt the same.

The proportion of those more ambivalent about voting but while still intending to do so, however, was roughly the same in Malta as it was in the rest of the EU – 23%  of Maltese said they were “rather likely” to vote compared to the EU average of 20%.

Overall, more than a third (34%) of Maltese said they were unlikely to vote in the elections compared to one in five (20%) Europeans who said the same.

The results also indicate that interest in the European elections has slumped in Malta over the past six months.

The average European also seemed to be much more enthusiastic about the upcoming elections, with those saying they were “very likely” to vote almost double the proportion of those in Malta.

Meanwhile, the opposite was true for those apathetic about the elections, with double the proportion of Maltese saying they were “very unlikely” to vote compared to the European average.

In the last quarter of 2023, a different Eurobarometer survey found 70% of the Maltese would have been likely to vote in the EP elections, two percentage points ahead of the European average.

When the survey was carried out between late September and mid-October, just 17% of the Maltese said they would have been unlikely to vote, a figure that has doubled since then.

The results suggest Malta is on track to register the lowest voter turnout for European elections since Malta joined the EU in 2004.

That year, voter turnout was at a massive 82.4%, a figure that has declined for every subsequent election since then, dropping to its lowest level in the last round of MEP elections in 2019, when 72.6% turned out to vote.

The Eurobarometer survey comes after the latest Times of Malta poll showed that 33% are likely to not vote at this stage. Analysts, however believe that figure is likely to decrease significantly closer to the election.

Despite the country's feelings towards the upcoming European elections, the Maltese continued to demonstrate above-average trust in the EU, with Malta being one of the EU countries where at least two-thirds of respondents said they tended to trust it.

Economy and quality of life

Almost four-fifths (78%) of respondents described the economy as “good” compared to around two-thirds of Europeans who said the same about their region.

While respondents in Malta – along with Estonia, Latvia and Luxembourg – were asked to characterise the state of the economy for the whole country owing to its size, those in larger EU states were asked to rate the region in which they lived (for example, Tuscany in Italy or Berlin in Germany).

When asked to rate the economy, more than a quarter (29%) of the Maltese described it as “very good”, compared to just one in 10 of Europeans who said the same about their region.

Conversely, while one in three Europeans (33%) described their local economy as “bad”, the same was true for just 17% of Maltese.

The Maltese demonstrated faith that the economy will get even better.

“In 74 regions, in total, at least 20% of respondents think that the economic situation in their region will get better in the next 12 months... In Malta, 43% of respondents think that the economic situation in their region will get better in the next 12 months,” the report said.

Economic considerations topped the list of concerns for people across the EU, with almost a third (31%) saying the cost of living was their greatest concern, followed by the economic situation of their region and unemployment, respectively.

In Malta, however, people were most concerned about environment and climate change, with more than a third (34%) saying it was their biggest concern.

But when it came to the overall quality of life, the results in Malta were more aligned with those elsewhere in the bloc.

While 84% of the Maltese described the quality of life in the country as good, 82% of Europeans said the same for their region. However, Malta had the edge when it came to those who said their quality of life was “very good”, with more than a quarter (26%) of Maltese indicating this compared to one in five (20%) Europeans.

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