The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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TMID Editorial: The end of a campaign

Thursday, 6 June 2024, 11:32 Last update: about 2 months ago

The election campaign comes to an end today. The political parties will be holding their last activities in a bid to convince the last doubtful voters.

Most of them have already decided what to do on Saturday. But there are pockets of people who are still to make up their mind. Maybe they did after watching the leaders of the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party spar on television last night. There are then voters who will choose not to participate in the exercise. They are sending a message too.

It has not been a quiet campaign, although towards the end both major parties seemed to be running out of things to say.

And it has been a different one, too.

The spotlight was mostly on the arraignment of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and three former ministers following the conclusion of the inquiry into the now-rescinded deal which saw the operation of three public hospitals passed on to private companies.

The conclusions of the inquiry and subsequent arraignments dominated the campaign.

The Labour Party tried hard to deflect attention away from it, dishing out one goodie after another in what were a string of attempts to sway the voters to its side. That governments use their power of incumbency is not a new phenomenon, but in this campaign Labour took it to the extreme. Never before has this country seen pork barrel politics at this level.

Prime Minister Robert Abela constantly pointed fingers at the self-invented “establishment”, whatever that means. His attacks on the judiciary were a common thread in his public speeches. He continued to defend his predecessor, and often put the interests of his party before those of the nation. He was keen to mention the timing of the conclusion of the magisterial inquiry, but never addressed the content which has led to the arraignments.

For its part, the Nationalist Party made good use of the inquiry during the campaign, highlighting corruption at the top levels and calling on the voters to send the message to the government that its shortcomings are not acceptable. Saturday’s election will not be for a new government, but a bigger victory for Labour would be rubberstamping all the wrong that it – and its previous top officials – is responsible for.

The PN has also focused on pushing hard for a third seat in the European Parliament. The way our electoral system works makes it possible for Labour to win by a large margin but one which will not be enough to guarantee four seats. A 3-3 finish would be most welcome for the PN, although it would still be in arrears in terms of votes won.

Let us then not forget that apart from the EP election, voters will also be asked to choose their representatives on local councils. While there are localities where Labour has a clear advantage and in others it is the PN which will win the majority, there are others where the battle will be close.

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