Eurobarometer: Survey fieldwork on government trust was carried out last November, and figure was 51% not 55%

Published: August 1, 2016 at 11:15am

Headlines were made last week across the media by a Eurobarometer survey which concluded that 55% of Maltese trust their government.

The government has gone to town with this, issuing press releases that have been faithfully reported in the newspapers, and crowing fit to burst. Meanwhile, the headline (because people on Facebook mainly only read headlines) has been heavily shared on social media.

The interesting thing is that the main reaction outside the narrow world of Muscat supporters is not ‘Wow, the government is doing great’ but ‘Are Maltese people warped, crazy and corrupt?’ People are nervous at living in a society where the majority trusts a demonstrably highly corrupt government. How can people still trust this government after the Panama Papers scandals and so many others?

But I have reassuring news for you: the fieldwork for that Eurobarometer survey was carried out last November, months before the Panama Papers scandal broke. It is completely out of date. This is the link which takes you to Standard Eurobarometer 84 report, where you will find all the information you need, including the fact that the fieldwork was conducted between 7 and 17 November 2015. I am taken aback that neither the Opposition nor the free press has gone straight to the source.

This crucial information should have been reported by the newspapers before they served up a pro-government headline on a plate, completely unquestioningly. And it goes without saying that the Opposition should have used it to rip the government and its lying propaganda to shreds.

With every survey, the most important piece of information is when the fieldwork was carried out. Without that, you can’t place the results in context. Ironically, when Maltese newspapers carry out and publish the results of their own public opinion surveys, they always report the exact period when they spoke to people, because they know that this is important.

There’s more: if you go to Table 2 of the national report for Malta in the link above you will find that the correct figure for trust in the government is not 55% but 51%. And that was way back in November, before the shocking Panama Papers scandals and other disturbing news.

The free press has a duty to the public. When we let the government get away with lies and propaganda because we are too lazy to go to the source, or because we trust the government too much to check what it has told us, we are failing in that duty.

Muscat’s party has an eight-year history of manipulating the media and using sharp practices in propaganda. I am astonished that some journalists are still failing to examine the small or even the large print of whatever those people tell us. It’s like signing a contract given to you by a known crook, without bothering to get it checked, on the basis that it’s a contract so it can’t be wrong.

He told you that 55% of the electorate trusts his government, but it was 51% and that was back in November.

He told you that 55% of the electorate trusts his government, but it was 51% and that was back in November.