Editorial: Floating voters and the undecided

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 June, 2023 at 9:21 am by Andre Camilleri

Several intriguing statistics were made public last Friday when the “State of the Nation” conference was held, under the auspices of the Office of the President.

One of them is that, compared to last year, the number of people who remain loyal to their political party is on the decline.

In 2022, it had been found that 83% of the voting population voted for the same party throughout their lives and irrespective of the circumstances. This has now dropped to 67%, a staggering difference which shows that, at least from this survey, people are changing.

The same survey found that 39% of those who were interviewed consider switching their party allegiance too, up from 25% last year.

It is not a surprise that the younger generations are more likely to shift from one party to another, with more than half of the 16-25 cohort saying they will not find a problem doing that.

The survey also registered that one in five of those interviewed have still to make up their mind whether they will vote in the next election.

All this shows that the political landscape in Malta is changing. Added to this, more and more people no longer feel the compulsion to be associated with just one party, and feel free to move between one party and another, depending on the circumstances of the day.

Political parties would do well to take note of these numbers, because ultimately these are the people who will decide an election. The so-called floating voters are increasing in number between one election and another, and it would be wrong for the political parties to under-estimate this phenomenon.

They would also do well to realise that the possibility exists that fewer people turn up to cast their vote. In 2022, we had the lowest turnout in half a century, at 85 per cent, which meant that one in every seven voters felt that none of the parties deserved their vote. The survey presented last week has shown that this number has grown to one in five and, although people who are today saying they will not vote may change their mind, the indications are that there is the likelihood that the turnout in the next election will be even lower than that of last year.

This is evidence that there is a growing number of people who have lost their trust in politicians and political parties. They get on with their lives and do not really care who is in power. They do not feel inclined to show their support – not even exercise their right to vote – because none of the parties satisfies their aspirations. Or, to put it bluntly, they have lost faith in the system.

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