Half of Malta’s population believe the country’s elected politicians are corrupt and only 15% disagree, according to a survey by the University of Malta.

The survey was carried out in January by the Faculty of Social Wellbeing, asking a representative sample of 600 people over 16 about governance and the “fight against corruption”.

Asked “Are politicians corrupt?”, respondents replied on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 meant ‘absolutely disagree’ and 5 meant ‘strongly agree’.

Slightly under 30% strongly agreed that elected politicians are corrupt while 20% agreed.

Another 35% were classified as neutral while just 6% disagreed with the statement and nine per cent absolutely disagreed. Young respondents and those with the lowest level of education were the least to think politicians are corrupt (averaging 3.1 and 3.3 respectively on the scale of 1 to 5).

Respondents were also asked: “If you need assistance, do you feel comfortable talking to a politician to help you and give you a referral service?”

Thirty per cent agreed or strongly agreed with the practice and 19% fell into the ‘neutral’ category of 3 on the scale.

Sixteen per cent disagreed, but the largest percentage – 35% – totally disagreed.

The survey found that people with the highest level of education and highest level of income were the ones who mostly feel uncomfortable with seeking a “preferential” service from a politician, scoring an average of 2.12 and 1.13 respectively on the scale.

Conversely, the respondents who are currently inactive felt the most comfortable (2.85 on average).

A similar survey carried out by civil society organisation Transparency International in 2020 had found that a third of the people in Malta admitted exploiting personal connections to get access to a public service.

Yet, despite the willingness of nearly a third of people to approach politicians for favours, the university survey found that the majority of respondents, 76 per cent, consider the fight against corruption to be a very important matter.

Less than 5% consider it unimportant.

Asked about their personal income, over a third of the respondents said they were not paid enough.

Unsurprisingly, they came mainly from the low-income groups as well as from residents of the Southern harbour areas.

Younger respondents, aged between 26 and 35, and those who completed tertiary education mainly felt they were well paid.

Meanwhile, the majority of respondents (53%) agree that unions are still representing the interest of workers, with only 6.1% saying they strongly disagree.

Females were more likely to agree with the statement, as did those who had a tertiary education.

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