Joseph Muscat’s popularity among Labour voters has dipped slightly over the course of the election campaign, a survey commissioned by Times of Malta has found.

At the start of the general election race, 36.3 per cent of Labour voters said they preferred Muscat as party leader.

This has since dipped to 30.3 per cent in the latest round of the election survey carried out by market research firm Esprimi. 

Respondents were asked to choose between the current leaders of their parties and their predecessors.

Muscat, who stepped down in disgrace more two years ago, has been an issue of contention during the election campaign.

He grabbed attention when he started making side-line political appearances but never appeared alongside his successor Robert Abela. 

Abela had reacted to Muscat’s appearances and candidate endorsements by saying the election was a choice between himself and his political opponent, Bernard Grech.

“The choice is between Bernard Grech and Robert Abela… those are the names people will have to choose from,” Abela told journalists earlier this month when asked about Muscat’s election campaigning for other candidates.

Asked who is their preferred leader, 50.4 per cent of Labour voters chose Abela, up from 47 per cent at the start of the election campaign. Thirteen per cent said they did not know and 6.3 per cent replied “neither”.

The PL’s election campaign has focused heavily on Abela, who consistently polls stronger than Grech. 

On the opposition front, Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech enjoys the support of 54.9 per cent of traditional PN voters. 

This is down from the 71.8 per cent at the start of the general election race.

His predecessor, Adrian Delia, remains a favourite among 12.9 per cent of PN voters, down only slightly from the 14.1 per cent of the support as the PN’s preferred leader.

This time around there was a significant portion of respondents who did not give an answer.

Whereas 7.1 per cent of respondents claimed they do not know who they prefer in February, this has now climbed up to 18 per cent.

Another 13.8 per cent say they prefer neither option, up from 7.1 per cent last time.

Delia was edged out of the leadership post by Grech in an October 2020 ballot sparked by internal dissent within the party.

According to the same survey, the Labour Party is leading the PN by some 37,000 votes, though a fifth of the electorate remains non-committal.

A total of 55.1 per cent of the electorate would vote for Labour while 43.5 per cent would opt for the Nationalist Party, according to survey results by Esprimi.

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