The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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TMID Editorial: A year away from MEP, local council elections

Friday, 9 June 2023, 11:37 Last update: about 2 years ago

We are exactly one year away from an election that will serve to choose the six people who will represent Malta in the European Parliament.

On 9 June, 2024, the Maltese will be asked to pick the six best candidates that will take on this responsibility for the following five years. The local council elections will also be held on that day.

Both elections will arrive almost midway through the legislature, and will give a solid indication as to what the Maltese people are thinking.

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Surveys that are held by newspapers and others do give a reliable account, but the real test is always when an election takes place. Not everyone is honest when answering questions over a phone by an unknown person; but when one sits down to list his or her preferences on the ballot sheet, the real choices are made.

In the last election, Malta chose four candidates from the Labour Party and two from the Nationalist Party. The Labour Party has also won the last local council elections handsomely, confirming the trend that was set more than a decade ago when the PL started to win these elections before winning the 2013 general election and not looking back ever since.

MEP and local council elections can also be used by voters to send a direct message to their party. The latest survey shows that the number of people who move from one party to another in between elections is on the rise, and so there is a greater chance that voters will use the 2024 MEP/local council elections to express their discontent.

One must also keep in mind that in the last general election of 2022, the number of people who chose not to exercise their right to vote also increased sharply – 15% of voters decided not to vote, which is one in every seven. By Malta’s standards, this is a high number.

Normally, the turnout for MEP and local council elections is lower than that of a general election – it hovers around the 70% mark. If the turnout in 2024 will be lower than that, it would mean a confirmation that Maltese voters are, as time goes by, getting more disillusioned with politics.

The political parties have started their preparations for these elections. Some EP candidates have already been approved by the party they will be representing; some are new, while others will be taking their chances again. On the other hand, we already know that the Labour Party will be “losing” Alfred Sant, who has said that he will not be contesting again.

Similarly, the parties have started an exercise to confirm councillors who wish to re-contest and new candidates who would like to take their place. Many upcoming politicians tend to use local councils as a stepping stone towards their bigger target – a place in the national Parliament, and a quick look at the list of MPs shows that many of them were first elected to local councils before moving a step up to the House of Representatives.

So much needs to happen before we cast our vote in a year’s time. But the race is already on.

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