The Malta Independent 13 June 2024, Thursday
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Labour Party victorious in European Parliament election, but majority slashed to 8,454 votes

Sunday, 9 June 2024, 08:05 Last update: about 3 days ago

The Labour Party has won the European Parliament elections, but the distance between the two major parties has been reduced considerably, with the gap between the two being 8,454 votes. In 2019, the margin between them was 42,000.

PN secretary general Michael Piccinino said on Sunday morning, soon after the PL victory was declared, that the gap between the two parties was 15,000 which was, even then, the smallest margin ever registered between the two big parties in the EP elections, held for the first time in 2004.

That, later, this gap was further reduced to 8,454 was an even better result for the PN, certainly not expected given that surveys were indicating a victory for Labour by 28,000-30,000 votes.

Unofficial information that was filtering through to the media gave the gap, at different times, fluctuating between the 15,000 Piccinino had mentioned and going down to 5,800, a figure that was arrived at when the European Parliament issued its own projection.

The European Parliament, at 7:30pm, issued a projection which stated that the PL stood at gaining 44.67% of the votes, while the PN stood at 42.52% - a gap of just 2.15 percentage points. With 269,551 votes cast, that would have translated to a gap of just 5,800 votes. Third parties and independent candidates between them were expected to pool together 12.81% of the votes. according to the EP projection.  This was equivalent to almost 35,000 votes.

At around 8:20pm, with 99% of the votes scanned, the PN agents burst into celebration, with party sources telling The Malta Independent that the PN were practically guaranteed to win three seats.

At 9:30pm, The Malta Independent was in a position to confirm through its sources that the gap between the two major parties was of 8,454 votes, a result that was confirmed later by the Electoral Commission.

The European Parliament projections predicted a seat-split of three to the PL and three to the PN, and this was confirmed later in the night. Alex Agius Saliba, Daniel Attard, and Thomas Bajada were elected for the Labour Party, while Roberta Metsola, David Casa and Peter Agius were elected for the PN.

In the 2004 EP election, the PL won by 21,000, in 2009 it went up to 35,000, in 2014 it was 34,000 while, in 2019, the gap was 42,000.

In the last general election in 2022, Labour won by 39,000 votes.

The results led to a surreal situation in the counting hall, with Labour Party delegates and supporters celebrating their victory in terms of votes, especially when Prime Minister Robert Abela visited the counting hall and then, an hour later, it was the turn of the Nationalist Party delegates and supporters to likewise celebrate, singing the PN anthem and shouting "tuna s-siggu" (give us the seat) as it became clearer that the PN was set to win three seats.

It is the first time since 2008 that Nationalist Party delegates were heard singing and shouting, having endured 16 years of electoral defeats. And, although today's result is also a loss, the significant inroads the party has made into Labour's lead - which was 42,000 in 2019 and which has been chopped down by four-fifths - is being taken as a positive result.

Solid win for Labour - Robert Abela

Speaking on national TV just before noon, Prime Minister Robert Abela declared victory, as PL exponents in the counting hall erupted in scenes of jubilation.

"It is a solid victory for the Labour Party," Abela said, "as the Maltese and Gozitan people have recognised the party’s work and efforts".

‘The people sent a clear message that they want Labour’s leadership’ – PL Deputy Leader for Party Affairs

Daniel Micallef, the Labour Party’s Deputy Leader for Party Affairs, said that this election result is a clear message by the people that states that it wants the Labour Party’s leadership. Micallef added that his party receives this result with great satisfaction.

While referencing the speculated voter gap, Micallef refused to comment until these figures have been confirmed. At the time of asking, the Nationalist Party was speculating the gap to have gone down to 15,000 votes, which the party was celebrating as its best result ever for European Parliament elections.

“At this stage, I will not talk about figures, but I will speak about the indications of a result that show a solid message in favour of the Labour Party,” Micallef said.

He noted that PL is determined to continue implementing its electoral manifesto, as it keeps working as both a party and a government.

Micallef refused to confirm the speculated 3-3 result for the distribution of EP seats. Although, he made reference to the 2014 elections and reminded that despite winning by a significant 33,000 votes, the final result was a 3-3 distribution between the two major parties.

He also refused to speculate on the possibility of an independent candidate being elected ahead of a PN candidate.

Celebrate calmly - Ramona Attard, PL president

In comments to One News, PL president Ramona Attard said the Maltese and Gozitan population has once again chosen the Labour Party. "I appeal to the PL supporters to celebrate in a calm and serene manner. This was a long campaign, but now we look forward to continuing the work on Monday, not that it ever stopped."

Minister Miriam Dalli said that this election was another certification of Abela’s leadership and that the people showed faith in the Labour Party.

Minister Chris Bonett said that he and his colleagues will now be rolling up their sleeves on Monday and focusing again on working for the country.

Minister Byron Camilleri said that the PL is capable of offering solutions. He continued that in regard to determining how many seats have been won, the process being seen today is different from years prior and that the result is being built box by box, so it is difficult to determine the margin by which the election was won, as not even 100 out of 900 boxes have been counted at this point. He concluded however that it is a solid victory for the PL which shows faith in Abela’s government.

For his part, Minister Silvio Schembri said today’s result needs to be kept in mind with the context that we are in the middle of our third legislature, which is often the hardest period, but the people have once again shown solidarity and faith in the Labour Party.

People have sent a message - Darren Carabott

Nationalist MP Darren Carabott said that “at the end of the day it is a loss”, and that when it is a loss one cannot be content or happy. He added, however, that the people gave a message of hope to the PN and has given the government a “shaking”. 

Carabott said that the Labour votes decreased by such a great amount that it is a “slap in the face” for the Labour Party but at the same time, it is the best result achieved by the PN, for as long as the PN has been contesting on the EU, so it is a message of hope. 

“A volatile seed has been sown”, Carabott said and went on to appeal to the people to unite with the PN as there is need to keep on building on what they gained. He truly believes that this message of hope is a sign that the PN is moving forward, even in the face of losing votes to independent parties. 

Carabott said that something was born today, that is hard to keep, but “the responsibility is on us now to show that the PN deserves to be in government at the next election.” He concluded that they will keep on working to turn this “gap of loss” into one of victory.

Nationalist MEP candidate David Casa described a result as the slap in thr face of the Labour Party. The people are sending a strong message: "do not continue to pig out on us".



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