The Malta Independent 6 August 2020, Thursday

‘Serene’ Joseph Muscat says that his successor should not be compared to him

Albert Galea Wednesday, 8 January 2020, 12:37 Last update: about 8 months ago

A “serene” Joseph Muscat said on a radio interview that people should resist drawing comparisons between his successor and him, noting that the country will be in strong hands regardless.

Speaking on an interview on One Radio aired on Wednesday, Muscat said that he had been living these last few days with “profound serenity”, and that in this – the last week of his premiership – he had made sure that the government’s momentum returns following the festive period.

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He said he would leave major and crucial decisions to the new Prime Minister, but noted that there are other important matters which he has had to attend to, adding that this week is one of continuous meetings and work.

The interview focused substantially on the Labour government’s achievements, with Muscat speaking about his government’s achievements especially in the social and social justice sector. There was no mention of the political crisis which led to his resignation, announced on 1 December.

He spoke of how the creation of jobs had led to the creation of wealth which had then been spread to the people on a wider basis. He spoke of changes to the benefits system to make sure that “social injustices” such as people who are able to work but choose to sit at home and receive benefit cheques instead.

Muscat was also asked about his legacy as the “most progressive and inclusive” Prime Minister that Malta had seen, wherein he spoke of how much the country and its people had moved forward since he was elected as Labour leader in 2008, when even his support for divorce was seen as shocking.

He said that the progressive agenda is far from being exhausted, and noted that there are still a lot of changes to be done.  He pledged that the Labour Party will remain a “vanguard” in these debates for the country.

Asked about how the Labour Party’s achievements had always been undermined by the Opposition, Muscat said that it is crucial for the party to write its own history and not let others undermine their achievements with the negatives.

Asked about ongoing measures, he said that the Gozo Tunnel tender was released this week, showing a commitment to the Gozitan people that this project will indeed happen.  He also noted that he regrets that he will not be in office to push through reforms that will ensure higher female participation levels in Parliament, saying that he hoped that the PN will support this measure – which requires a two-thirds majority – and recognise that such a “shock to the system” is needed.

Turning to this weekend, Muscat said that he is pleased that there is a lot of enthusiasm for his last speech on Friday, and noted that it definitely will not be the last time he meets supporters.  This being said he added that he will give his full loyalty to whoever is elected as the new Prime Minister.

He said that people should resist comparing his successor with him, and said that the country will be in very strong hands after this weekend.  He called on all eligible members to exercise their right to vote, a vote which is being made “in serenity”.

He said that it is the first time that there is an election within the party to elect a new leader who will definitely be the new Prime Minister, and said that when the Nationalist Party had “copied” Labour’s statute for the leader to be elected by the party’s members it had resulted in the PN ending up split.

 “There are those who are hoping and speculating that this will split the PL.  This process hasn’t split us, on the contrary, it has strengthened us. It doesn’t mean there will not be an argument here and there – it is an election after all, but I have seen a sense of unity in this process”, Muscat said.

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