• Doctors for Choice

Why candidates' pledges to anti-choice group may have backfired

Updated: Apr 17

In the run-up to the general election 2022, many electoral candidates sought to pledge to a local anti-choice group called "Abortion in Malta? Not in my name" that they would vote against any bill in parliament that favours abortion. They would then have their name and picture shared on the group of around 37,000 members, presumably in the hope that this would boost their chances of getting elected. However, as the numbers show, this is unlikely to have had its desired effect.

A few hours prior to polling day, a list of candidates endorsed by the anti-choice group was published as a pinned post on their group.

Post on anti-choice group endorsing a candidate.

There were 175 candidates for the parliamentary election 2022, 90 of whom pledged to the anti-choice group. This means a slim majority of candidates - 51% - pledged to the anti-choice group.

79 candidates were elected to parliament. Out of these 79 elected candidates, now MPs, 28 had pledged to the anti-choice group before the election. This means the proportion of MPs who had pledged to the anti-choice group is now only 35%.

Malta general election 2022: Share of candidates and share of elected MPs who endorsed anti-abortion pledge

Out of 90 candidates who pledged to the anti-choice group, 28 were elected, which represents 31%. On the other hand, out of 85 candidates who did not pledge to the anti-choice group, 51 were elected, which represents 60%. This means a candidate who did not pledge to the anti-choice group was around twice as likely to get elected than one who did. We'll let our readers decide whether the strategy to promote themselves on anti-choice group did these candidates any favour.

Why is "Abortion in Malta? Not in my name" a problem?

"Abortion in Malta? Not in my name" is an open Facebook group of around 37,000 members at the time of writing. The group admins and members are known not just for posting anti-choice content, but also regularly push homophobic and transphobic propaganda. Earlier this year, a member from that group was convicted of hate speech against one of our doctors.

We have nothing against politicians letting people know their views on abortion, in fact we encourage them to be open and honest about this. However, we do have a problem with politicians trying to advertise themselves on a group with such a reputation. In any case, as the figures above show, those 37,000 members are unlikely to have translated into any significant votes.