Voters are getting turned off by politics

If there is one datum from MaltaToday’s survey that stands out more than the rest is the potential turnout of 69% if a general election is held tomorrow

If there is one datum from MaltaToday’s survey that stands out more than the rest is the potential turnout of 69% if a general election is held tomorrow. 

If this turnout figure does materialise it would be a historic low in a country that for decades has boasted of the highest election turnouts in the democratic world. Moreover, Malta’s high turnouts, which before last year’s general election easily surpassed 90%, were achieved without the imposition of a system found in some countries that fines voters who do not vote. 

The 2022 general election was a watershed moment in this regard because the turnout stood at 86% - very high by the western world’s standards but historically the lowest in Malta. 

The latest survey simply confirms a trend that has continued since the March 2022 election of more people explicitly saying they will not vote. It confirms the growing number of disenchanted, angry and apathetic voters who have given up on politics altogether. 

Today, non-voters represent almost a third of the electorate. They are an army in their own right but one that lacks direction. 

The reasons for this growing disenchantment are varied. Some would have personal gripes, which may vary from legitimate concerns to illicit expectations. Others are angered by government corruption and cronyism that benefits the few at the expense of the honest many but do not see a workable alternative in the Nationalist Party. Others may feel their income and quality of life being eroded and politicians unable to provide solutions for this. Others may simply be turned off by the puerile political bickering where scoring points and denigrating the opponent are more important than talking policy. And yet others may simply not be interested in being part of the democratic process that elects our representatives. 

Whatever the motivation for not voting, these people could potentially deliver the biggest political shakeup of recent times.  

The two major political parties can still take comfort in being huge by any European standard – ironically, in Slovakia the ‘winning’ party could only muster 24% of the national vote in elections held there last week – but they would be making a big mistake to ignore non-voters. Similarly, ADPD, which is the third party with the longest history, should be asking itself why people prefer to stay at home rather than vote for it in sufficient numbers to elect representatives. 

The MaltaToday survey also shows that the Labour Party continues to haemorrhage support as a growing number of voters opt to join the party of non-voters. There is a clear message to be drawn here that Prime Minister Robert Abela should heed now rather than later. 

Indeed, corruption and favouritism may not be the issues that topple parties from power but they will come back to haunt a party in government if everything else is going wrong. With people increasingly feeling their pockets being squeezed by inflation and struggling to maintain a decent quality of life, corruption will be a bat with which people will strike the government. 

Additionally, Abela’s reaction to the driving licence racket only serves to alienate more people. Abela is not making a distinction between politicians helping ordinary citizens acquire what is theirs by right and politicians helping someone shaft the system for illicit personal gain. 

When this distinction is blurred, ordinary people get disenchanted with their government and are left questioning the worth of being honest and hard working. It erodes the basis of trust that should exist between the governed and their government. 

Today’s survey is yet another wake-up call for the PL and Abela. The party is trailing the PN and the numbers are clear enough – the PL is losing voters to abstention. 

But within this scenario the Opposition also has a lot of soul searching to do. The PN’s gains are marginal and the numbers show that Bernard Grech is now a drag on the party. 

Grech may claim that with all the disenchantment in his regard, the PN still enjoys a relative majority with a lead of just under 5,000 votes. 

But this would be a very superficial reading of the numbers. 

The difference between the two major parties is within the margin of error and given Labour’s well-oiled electoral machine, come election day it may yet turn out the vote more efficiently than the PN. 

Also, Robert Abela’s higher trust rating gives the PL a bigger advantage over its rival in trying to convince apathetic voters to lend their support. 

Indeed, the PN may enjoy the moment but it still has a hard slog ahead of it. 

Grech should ask himself whether his party’s inability to project itself as a government in waiting and fit for purpose is also contributing to voter apathy. 


MaltaToday has been carrying out surveys since 2002. We are the media company with the longest history of regular scientific polling. Today, we publish the first voting intentions survey and trust barometer after the summer break with some changes to the methodology. In the past, we used to present the raw results without attributing voting intentions to those who are undecided. 

History has shown us that despite the growing rate of abstentions in the election, a significant proportion of those who tell us they are undecided would eventually go out and vote. Understanding who these people are and what their likely behaviour will be on election day has become crucial. 

So, from today onwards, we will be applying scientific methods to try and interpret the possible intention of those who opt not to tell us how they will vote.  

In this way, the results will paint a picture that is closer to what one could expect in a general election, including the vote gap between the parties. 

This change will ensure MaltaToday’s surveys remain relevant.