With one week to go until Labour Party members elect their new leader and Malta’s next Prime Minister, an independent survey has given Robert Abela a slight edge over Chris Fearne.
The survey, whose results were seen by Lovin Malta, was carried out between 2nd and 3rd January among 655 people who voted PL at the last election. Stratified random sampling based on gender and age was used to replicate the demographics of the 17,493 PL members eligible to vote. The estimated margin of error is 4% for a confidence interval of 95%.
The survey shows that Abela is the favoured candidate of 52% of respondents, while Fearne is preferred by 48% of them.
Abela is most popular in the second district, which includes the Labour stronghold of Bormla, where Abela’s sister-in-law Alison Zerafa Civelli is mayor. He is favoured by 65% respondents there, almost double Fearne’s rating of 35%. Abela is also significantly popular in the sixth district, where he got elected to Parliament from in 2017, with 59% of respondents choosing him over Fearne, and in the 12th district, where he was chosen by 57%.
On his part, Fearne is most popular in the fourth district, which includes his hometown of Paola, where he was chosen by 55% of respondents, and in the 13th district (Gozo), where he was chosen by 52%.
However, next week’s election is by no means a foregone conclusion for Abela, with a December survey carried out specifically among PL members and seen by Lovin Malta giving Fearne a 64-36 lead over Abela.
Times of Malta reported last week that Fearne has “consistently” polled at around 65% of PL members throughout the leadership race.
On Xarabank last night, Abela said the surveys he has seen have shown “encouraging results” but that a lot of work must still be carried out to convince voters ahead of the vote next week.
“What’s important is that people are left in full freedom to make their own decisions,” he said, adding that his message and principles will remain unchanged regardless of survey results.
“I won’t promise [positions to people], I won’t engage in fearmongering, I will promote a message of hope, I will eliminate all types of fear, and I will give off a message of love and not one of hatred,” he said.
The election between Abela and Fearne will take place on 11th January, in what will be first time PL members get to vote for a leader.