MaltaToday Survey | 'The problems of success'

Traffic has remained the Maltese population's greatest concern followed by foreigners and corruption

Traffic is the Maltese population's biggest concern according to MaltaToday's latest survey
Traffic is the Maltese population's biggest concern according to MaltaToday's latest survey

Traffic remains the topmost concern across all age groups and irrespective of political allegiance, a MaltaToday survey has found.

With official data showing a stock of 372,061 licensed motor vehicles at the end of last year, of which 78% were passenger cars, traffic is the main concern everywhere except the Western region.

The survey held in the last week of February asked people to mention the three things that concerned them most in Malta.

Traffic came out on top with a score of 20.1%, ahead of corruption, which came in second with 10.4%. The rekindling of the controversial Vitals hospital contract at the start of the year may have contributed to corruption edging up in the standings.

However, this was also the first MaltaToday survey that polled people’s concerns after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The last survey on concerns published in October showed that traffic was a concern for 34.7%, followed by parking (12.2%), immigration (9.8%) and corruption (7.3%).

Foreigners cause concern

Interestingly, ‘foreigners living in Malta’ was the third highest concern with 9.9%, reflecting the new reality that has taken root over the past five years and which appears to be causing unease in the community.

However, there were another 5.6% who identified ‘illegal immigration’ as a concern. If these are added up to those who mentioned ‘foreigners living in Malta’, the collective concern over foreigners hit 15.5%, putting it second behind traffic.

Figures released by the National Statistics Office last month showed that by the end of 2016 there were an estimated 54,321 foreigners living in Malta, making up 12% of the population. With a thriving economy requiring a bigger workforce, more foreigners have since moved to Malta for work purposes and more are expected to do so in the future.

This is contributing to a higher demand for housing, which is in turn reflected in a construction boom across various localities around Malta and Gozo.

The survey captures this development with 8.8% identifying construction and the inconvenience it causes as one of their main concerns. Construction was only a concern of 1% last October.

With construction coming in at fourth, almost hand-in-hand in fifth place is the concern over environmental degradation, mentioned by 7% of respondents. This represents a slight increase over the 6.3% registered last October.

The results appear to underpin what the Prime Minister often describes as the ‘problems of success’ caused by an economy in overdrive, a growing population and the ever-increasing pressure on public infrastructure.

Political variance

But the survey also sheds light on what makes voters of the two major parties tick. While Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia is currently pitching migration and foreigners as a political platform, the survey found that the combined concern with foreigners is higher among those who voted for the Labour Party in the last election (20%) than it is for PN voters (11%).

Traffic is the major concern for both PL and PN voters but a stark difference emerges on corruption.

While corruption was a concern for 3.6% of 2017 PL voters, it was the second-highest concern for PN voters at 20.1%.

Top five regional concerns

Gozo

Gozitans are by far the most worried about traffic with 34.1% listing it as one of their top three concerns.

The result represents the highest score for any concern in all the regions.

While the traffic situation in Gozo itself may not be as bad as in Malta, traffic is very likely to be a major nuisance for Gozitans who travel daily to Malta for work and study purposes.

In a similar vein, Gozitans are also concerned about the state of roads. With 9.4% indicating bad roads, the concern comes in third behind corruption, which was mentioned by 11% of Gozitans.

Low wages are a worrisome reality for Gozitans (9.4%) more than anywhere else. In fact, low wages do not feature among the top five concerns in any of the other regions.

Foreigners do not make it into Gozo’s top five list of concerns.

Northern region

Traffic comes out on top as a major concern (18.6%) in this region, which includes Mellieha, Mosta and St Paul’s Bay. This is followed by corruption at 13.8%.

Possibly reflecting the pace of development in this region, environmental destruction (12.2%) and the inconvenience caused by construction (12.1%) come in third and fourth respectively.

Foreigners living in Malta ranks fifth with 8.2% in a region that includes St Paul’s Bay, which is the locality with the highest concentration of foreign residents.

Northern Harbour

It comes as no surprise that traffic tops the list (24.4%) in this region with the second highest percentage after Gozo. The region, which includes localities like St Julian’s, Sliema, Qormi, Birkirkara and Hamrun, covers the key traffic nodes of the country.

Foreigners living in Malta are the second highest concern here with a score of 11%. This could be a reflection of the high concentration of foreigners living in localities like Sliema, Msida and Gzira.

The inconvenience caused by construction ranks third with 10.4%, which is not a surprise in an area that is witnessing a lot of development.

Corruption is fourth with 8.7%, followed by environmental destruction at 5.2%

South Eastern

Although traffic in the South East tops the list with 17.5%, the combined concerns, ‘illegal migration’ (second with 12.2%) and ‘foreigners living in Malta’ (third with 10.8%) rank highest with a score of 23%. This region includes Birzebbuga, which is very close to a migrant open centre (Hal Far), and Marsaskala, which has seen a growing population of foreigners.

The inconvenience with construction (9.6%) and environmental destruction (8.8%) come in fourth and fifth respectively. This region is the only one where corruption does not feature in the top five spots.

Southern Harbour

Traffic is the topmost concern (16.3%) in the region south of the Grand Harbour but this is eclipsed by the concern over foreigners if the two separate aspects – foreigners living in Malta and illegal migration – are taken together (24.6%). This region includes Marsa, which was in the spotlight last year after the council highlighted problems of unsocial behaviour caused by migrants living in the locality.

Corruption with 12.6% and the state of roads with 6.7% were the other two issues making up the top five concerns in this region.

Western

This is the only region where traffic is trumped by corruption, which is a concern for 13.4%. The top spot for corruption is probably the result of this region’s traditional tendency to be pro-PN. The survey found that PN voters in 2017 and those who intend to vote PN now regard corruption as a top concern, more than Labour voters do.

Traffic comes in second with 12.9% and foreigners living in Malta third at 9.5%. The last two of the top five spots are environmental destruction (9.3%) and construction (9.1%).

Methodological note:

The survey was conducted between 26 February and 1 March. A total of 501 respondents participated in the survey. Respondents were chosen using stratified random sampling based on age, region and gender. Moreover, multiple imputation by chained equations for missing data or non-answers by respondents was invoked. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2% for a confidence interval of 95%.

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