The Malta Independent 20 November 2018, Tuesday

We Expected it – Lawrence Gonzi

Malta Independent Monday, 14 June 2004, 00:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

He said this in reference to the fact that none of the parties obtained an absolute majority in the EP election held on Saturday. The law, as it stands, allows for extra parliamentary seats to be given to the party that obtains the majority of votes but the minority of seats, to make up the difference.

This happens, however, only if one party gets 50 per cent plus one of the votes. In the EP election, none of the parties obtained an absolute majority. In view of what happened yesterday, one has to see how the situation can be addressed, Dr Gonzi said.

Speaking at a press conference held yesterday to examine the results of the European Parliament election, Dr Gonzi said the government has had to take decisions in the national interest that cost the party a number of votes.

The result shows that people might feel the government must work harder in certain sectors, he said. Although the results must be analysed more carefully, it is clear that the people want certain issues to be addressed, such as the efficiency of the public sector, control of finances and waste management. The government must tackle problems and propose the best solutions, said the prime minister.

Dr Gonzi added that the government’s first priority is to move the country forward and therefore it sometimes has to take decisions that carry a political price. He gave examples of the restructuring of Air Malta, the dockyards, the Gozo Channel and others.

These issues have become a priority, said Dr Gonzi. Previously Malta had other concerns that were of more importance but now these reforms are crucial to the country’s development.

The people will see that the government will be working to convert challenges into viable opportunities for Malta to move forward, Dr Gonzi said.

Speaking about the reform of the pension system, he said that the Nationalist Party is simply working to guarantee that future generations will have a sustainable system. If this is not done, the future government, regardless of which party is elected, will have a serious problem that will cause the Maltese people to suffer greatly, he continued.

The way the MLP spoke against reforms to the pension system was irresponsible and did not safeguard the national interest, said Dr Gonzi. When Dr Sant was prime minister, he was aware that a reform was necessary and therefore now he should not claim that the system must remain the same. “Alfred Sant should have taken a different stand on this issue, as well as many others,” Dr Gonzi said.

Saturday’s election cannot be compared to last year’s referendum and general election, continued the prime minister. Because votes would not bring about a change in government, people were more free to vote for who they believed would make the best MEP.

The people had made a choice and it must be respected and accepted to strengthen the sense of democracy, said Dr Gonzi. He said the PN had foreseen the result of the EP election. Some of the 52 per cent of votes the

party had claimed in last year’s general election had now gone

to Alternattiva Demokratika. Surveys had indicated that the PN would lose votes to AD.

Although the people chose to vote for AD candidate Arnold Cassola, their wish for him to win a seat in the EP will probably not be realised, continued Prime Minister Gonzi. Since Prof. Cassola will probably not have enough votes, the Malta Labour Party will probably win the third seat in the parliament.

Despite the high rate of participation in the election, 40,000 people did not vote. Dr Gonzi said that a number of these, and some of those who had voted for AD, did not agree with some of the government’s decisions. He emphasised once again that any decisions taken, although not always the most popular, were taken in the national interest and everyone will benefit from them in the long run.

Prime Minster Gonzi said he has faith in the MEPs elected, regardless of their political colour. He believes all five MEPs will work together towards one aim, the development of Malta.

The government had not changed as a result of this election and as from tomorrow, it will go about its business as usual, said Dr Gonzi, promising that the government will spend its next four years in power working towards improving the quality of life, overcoming hurdles and making the most of every opportunity.

In response to a question by The Malta Independent on whether the change in party leadership had any effect on the outcome of the election, the prime minister said that in his political career, every experience, good or bad, is one that teaches and helps build a solid future. He added it was somewhat premature to say that there was a shift of votes from the PN to AD. The people chose the people they thought would make the best MEPs, he said.

When asked about Arnold Cassola getting a large number of votes from districts that were traditionally Nationalist, Dr Gonzi said that AD had targeted the core of Nationalist supporters. “It is exactly what I would have done, had the roles been reversed,” he said. AD reached intelligent people who exercised their freedom to make their choice.

Dr Gonzi concluded that the EP election was a perfect example of democracy being strengthened. The public was given a choice and the decision it has taken will be respected and accepted.

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