The Malta Independent 11 December 2018, Tuesday

Watch: PM sets sombre tone in victory speech, speaks of latest migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean

Neil Camilleri Sunday, 19 April 2015, 10:14 Last update: about 5 years ago

The Prime Minister's victory speech in Marsa this morning started off on a sombre tone, as he spoke of the latest migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean. 

Dr Muscat said he was informed at 1am this morning that the AFM had been asked to assist in an Italian-led operation. A boat carrying 700 people was located outside Libyan territorial waters. A ship was sent to rescue them but as soon as they saw the vessel, the migrants panicked and the boat capsized. The AFM and Italian Navy are working at the site as we speak.  Not more than 50 people have been saved. If confirmed this will be the biggest Mediterranean tragedy in the last few years.

"Before celebrating we have to speak about humanity. Our soldiers are doing all they can, trying to save as many lives as possible. Malta and Italy are alone in this, everyone else shrugged off their responsibilities. Malta will not turn away from such tragedies, but if Europe continues to do so it will end up being judged in the hardest of ways."  Dr Muscat promised that Malta would keep doing all it can, with its limited resources, to save every life that it can save. 

Victory speech

Turning to yesterday’s electoral victory, Dr Muscat said Malta is truly an optimistic country. “Our tiny island is surrounded by trouble both in the north and south yet it keeps moving forward, creating jobs and prospering.”

Dr Muscat said the PL has won all seven elections it contested since he was elected Leader.  It won six of them with 54%. In the other one the PL obtained 57% of the vote. “We are humbled by the result and we should put things into perspective. There was only one government that won a majority in local council elections – in 2000 – with 49%. They were happy with that result so how happy should we be with ours?”

In 2012 the PL obtained a bigger majority but the circumstances were different. In that election it had obtained a higher percentage than the general election the following year. The most important thing is that the electorate has confirmed the same level of support to the Labour Party.

“We have managed to hold onto the localities targeted by the Opposition and won new localities, like Floriana and Munxar. The result was practically half and half in St Paul’s Bay and Nadur, and Nadur is to the PN what Marsa is to Labour.”

The PL victory in Gozo did not come as a surprise, he said, because he knew that Gozitans had long ago realised that Labour was the better choice. The Opposition, he said, had tried hard to mobilise its traditional supporters. These factors made the labour victory more significant.

The PL also has to take stock of the result. Some popular local politicians had chosen not to contest, others failed to get re-elected. “In Marsaxlokk, people are still waiting for the Delimara chimney to be removed. I promise you that we will bring it down during this legislature. This government will not wait years and years to deliver on its promises. Yesterday’s result gave us new energy to keep going.”

Dr Muscat said the environment should also be brought to the forefront. Some of the biggest investments in the environment will be made in the south. The government will not forget anyone and will be listening to every last person, he said. “We will be giving our 200%."

 

Simon Busuttil the one underestimating us

Turning to the Opposition Leader, Dr Muscat said he felt relieved that Simon Busuttil had been found at last. Simon Busuttil had finally turned up, to celebrate his defeat. “ I never underestimate anyone, but from his tone yesterday it seems that Simon Busuttil is once again underestimating our movement. Now that he has reappeared, Simon Busuttil has to answer the questions he has been avoiding for the past four weeks.”

He thanked all candidates and appealed to them to put the communities they serve at the forefront. The government will keep announcing projects that will lead to the creation of new jobs. "The best things are yet to come," he promised.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici also addressed the event. In a jubilant speech he thanked those who had voted Labour, allowing the party to keep working to change the face of Malta. Dr Bonnici said this election will be remembered for many years to come because youths had become protagonists for the first time after the government changed the law to allow 16-year-olds to vote. Youths will now be at the centre of the work carried out by local councils.

He hailed Joseph Muscat for winning his third consecutive major election, to uproar from the crowd.  No government had ever won the local council elections, he said. The PL had not only managed to do so but had also obtained a very good result. Dr Bonnici said Malta is truly an optimistic country, where even those who lost the election were celebrating a victory. “Those who suffered a record defeat have invited us to join them in their celebrations.” The government, he said, has three main aims – to create jobs, wealth and an equal and just distribution of that wealth. “I have never been as proud as I am today to be Maltese.”

Dr Bonnici said the government would remove the “invisible barrier” separating the south from the north. “We want to turn the south into a jewel.”

 

Party atmosphere in Marsa

A sizeable crowd had gathered in Marsa by 10am to hear Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's victory speech after the PL won a 54% majority in the local council elections. Loud music blared out from speakers as hundreds of PL supporters waited for Dr Muscat to arrive. Many supporters arrived on buses and could be seen waving their party flags from the windows. 

Labour's recently-anointed soldier of steel Manuel Mallia received a huge round of applause on his arrival. 

Pictures: Melvin Degiorgio; Video; Matthew Agius

 

 

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