The Malta Independent 15 July 2024, Monday
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TMID Editorial: The country has voted

Sunday, 9 June 2024, 09:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Malta has voted to elect its six representatives at the European Parliament for the next five years. We will know the unofficial result during the morning, but we will have to wait until 11pm for the official outcome to be known, given that the Malta poll is part of a wider election that involves another 26 countries, and our result cannot be seen to influence the vote elsewhere. Although it is hard to imagine how the vote in tiny Malta could have an effect on what the Italians, Germans and the rest of Europeans do, those are the rules and we have to abide by them.

Malta has also voted to elect its local councils, also for the next five years. In this case, we have to wait even longer for the results to be known. The counting of the votes will start on Wednesday and finish on Friday, and it is only then that we will have a clear picture of the situation. There are localities where the outcome is a foregone conclusion, as one of the bigger parties dominates over the others. But then there are towns and villages where history has shown us that the majority shifts between one election and another. Much of the focus will be there, and in other places where the presence of popular independent candidates can play a big part.

Both elections will tell us where Malta is heading.

The Labour Party has won every time since 2013, all of them with a sizeable majority which is expected to be confirmed today. Prime Minister Robert Abela has linked the vote with one of confidence in his government. He knew that he was going to win, so by connecting the election to the government’s performance he can now say that the people have voted for continuity. Never mind that the government is mired in a wave of corruption charges that was brought about by his predecessor and his former ministers, but one which he (Abela) endorsed and defended.

The next few weeks and months will be expose more about the “fraudulent” deal that the government led by Joseph Muscat reached for the operations of three public hospitals to be passed on to private companies. The sittings in these two major cases will continue this week even before the local council election counting process is finished. And all eyes will be on the prosecution, which has already committed its first “serious blunder”. Let’s see how it will develop, as we await more news about other magisterial inquiries that can cause uproar.

The Labour government used all the weapons it could to attract as many votes as possible. It knew that it must show it still has a powerful command of the country, and that if the advantage it had in previous elections is seen to have been cut down it would mean trouble. This is why Labour used to electoral campaign to distribute one cheque after another, complete projects in record time and promise so much more to come.

The Nationalist Party’s target was to get the third seat. The way our electoral system works makes it possible for a party to lose heavily in terms of votes but to elect as many representatives as its political counterpart. We saw this happening in 2014. Today we will know whether the PN has achieved its aim. The election will also determine the way forward for the PN, which has been struggling in the eyes of the electorate for more than a decade.

The performance of the smaller parties as well as independent candidates will also be looked into. With a government in so much difficulty and an opposition which is not too convincing, it was the right time for them to make inroads into the two-party system. This election gave them the best chance. We will see whether they have taken it.

There’s another point to be made – and this is about the people who did not vote. We already know that 10 per cent did not collect their document for the EP election, and 24% did not bother with the voting document for the local council election. There will be others who, although in possession of their voting documents, did not turn up at the polling booths.

Even they have sent a message – they think that the two major political parties are not worth it, and neither are the smaller parties or independent candidates. Their voice has to be heard too, and it would be wrong to ignore it. This time, the election is not for the country’s administration, but the next one will be, and all politicians must be more convincing in the next three years or so.

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