He’s only been PN leader for a week but Bernard Grech already seems to be leaving some kind of mark on the electorate.
A survey published by MaltaToday shows that Grech is trusted by 30.9% of the electorate, compared to 46.6% who trust Prime Minister Robert Abela. While this 16-point percentage gap between the two leaders is still significant, it must be taken in some context.
Meanwhile, 13% of respondents said they trust neither leader and 9.4% said they don’t know.
The gap between Abela and Grech declined by four percentage points since last month, when MaltaToday conducted a survey ahead of the PN leadership race. Back then, the gap between Abela and Grech stood at around 20%, while that between the Prime Minister and then PN leader Arian Delia stood at 44%.
This is also Abela’s lowest trust rating since he was elected Prime Minister last January.
It’s also a much better showing than Delia’s first survey as PN leader in October 2017, when MaltaToday indicated a 29-percentage-point gap existed between him and then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Delia managed to reduce the gap to 21 points in May 2018, but he was unable to capitalise on the political crisis that gripped Malta last year or the COVID-19 pandemic that followed.
By the time PN MPs instigated an internal process that eventually led to a leadership election, Delia was trailing Abela by an eye-watering 44 percentage points.
In fact, Delia’s internal critics repeatedly warned that his consistently poor survey results were a sign that electorate wasn’t warming up to him.
While it’s too early to tell whether this survey is a sign of things to come or whether Grech is enjoying something of a honeymoon period, there’s no doubt the PN leader will be buoyed by the results.