Decrease in trust in national institutions, increase in European ones – Eurobarometer

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The latest Eurobarometer shows that there has been a general reduced level of trust demonstrated by respondents in Malta in national institutions. On the other hand an increased level of trust in European institutions and the United Nations, with the exception of the European Union.

The fieldwork was conducted between 14 and 28 November 2019. A total of 501 face-to-face interviews were conducted with respondents residing in Malta, aged 15 years and over. The report covers a number of topics, namely perceptions on respondents’ own personal situation, Malta and its economic situation, and the European Union; the objectives of the European Green Deal; opinions on immigration; trust in institutions; media and sources of work.

This means that the fieldwork was carried out when the country plunged into a political crisis following some progress in the murder investigation of Daphne Caruana Galizia which led to the resignation of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri from their posts and saw disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announcing that he would step down as Prime Minister. Yorgen Fenech, who was the owner of Dubai-based secret company 17 Black was also arrested and arraigned over the murder.

The survey shows that 45% of the respondents trusted in the justice and the legal system, a decrease of four percentage points over the previous year. Trust in the Police went down by nine percentage points when compared to 2018 and now stands at 59%. Trust in the Armed Forces also went down to 71% in 2019 compared to 77% in 2018. Trust in the public administration was at 52% in 2019 when compared to 68% in 2018. Trust in Regional or Local Public Authorities stood at 53% in 2019 compared to 64% in 2018.

Trust in the Maltese government stood at 51% in 2019 a decrease of 12% over the previous year. Trust in the Maltese Parliament also showed a sharp decrease and now stood at 44% in 2019, while in 2018 it stood at 59%.

Looking at European institutions, a decrease was registered in the trust towards the European Union, and is now at 53% in 2019 when compared to 56% in 2018. 57% of the respondents said that they trusted the United Nations.

Trust in the European Parliament (59%), the European Commission (59%), the European Central Bank (61%), and the European Council (50%) showed an increase in trust when compared to the previous year. Trust in the Council of the European Union remains unchanged when compared to 2018.

Trust in Media

The survey also showed a reduced level of trust demonstrated by respondents in Malta in the media.

InstitutionTend to trust in 2018Tend to trust in 2019
The written press32%28%
Radio47%46%
Television53%45%
The Internet39%35%
Online social networks24%25%

Asked further about media usage and sources of news, the Media Usage Index showed that 58% of respondents in Malta were very high users of media, 21% are high users while 18% have a poor level of usage and 3% made no use of media at all. The highest usage was registered among persons aged between 15 and 24 years.

Watching television remained the most used medium at 81% with respondents replying that they either watch television using their TV set or via internet daily or almost daily. The results reflected the EU average.

Daily use of internet was also high with 71% of the respondents saying that they access internet daily or almost daily. Radio listenership also registered a high level of incidence with 55% saying that they listened to radio on a daily basis. Readership of the written press on a daily basis is at 28%, with another 18% reading the newspaper at least once a week.

Television remains the main source of news on national political matters at 72%. Online social networks and websites were a main source of news on national political matters for 52% of the respondents in each case. The written press, on the other hand registered the lowest amount, at 22%. Radio as the main source of news on national political matters stood at 50%.

Only 30% said that the media in Malta provided trustworthy information compared to the 56% for the whole of the European Union. 57% of the respondents in Malta believe that the media do not provide trustworthy information. 57% of respondents believe that the media in Malta do provide a diversity of views and opinions. Only 12% believe that the media in Malta provide information free from political or commercial pressure.

Only 12% of the respondents believe that the public service media in Malta is free from political pressure.

85% of respondents said that they often come across news or information that you believe misrepresent reality or are even false. This is high score when compared to the average among EU member states which stood at 69%. 65% of the respondents believe that it is easy for them to identify news or information that they believe misrepresent reality or are even false.

A high percentage of respondents (82%) said that the existence of news or information that misrepresent reality or are even false is a problem in Malta. A higher percentage, 87%, said that this was a problem for democracy in general.

Meanwhile trust in political parties went down from 36% in 2018 to 29% in 2019.