The Malta Independent 13 June 2024, Thursday
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TMID Editorial: A clear message sent

Monday, 10 June 2024, 11:21 Last update: about 3 days ago

The people have sent a clear message to the Labour Party through their votes in the European Parliament elections.

At the time this editorial was written, the final official result wasn’t yet clear. It wasn’t known who Malta’s six MEPs would, officially, be. But the parties had an early indication at around noon. The Labour Party members sang victory chants in the counting hall as it was clear that they obtained the most number of votes. However, soon after, PN exponents said that the gap has shrunk to 15,000 votes (in terms of first count votes), which would be the smallest vote gap between the two major parties in the history of the European Parliament elections.

The campaigns were mainly focused around a single issue, the Vitals inquiry and the subsequent charges being issued against former top officials in the country. Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, former Minister Konrad Mizzi, Chris Fearne – who resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister after charges were filed, and Central Bank Governor Edward Scicluna are all among those facing criminal charges overt the hospitals deal.

The Prime Minister, Robert Abela, chose to question the timing of the inquiry’s conclusion, and bring the inquiry process into question, resulting in him facing accusations of attacking the courts. His approach was seen to be that of a party leader, partisan, and not an approach befitting of a Prime Minister.

The fact that such serious criminal charges have been filed against current and former government officials would have definitely had an impact on the election, but the Prime Minister’s decision to act the way he did almost certainly also had a part to play.

The reduction in votes could also be seen as a show of anger by the Labour supporters over the hospitals deal, perhaps feeling betrayed by the party over what happened.

The reduction in gap came despite so many goodies given and announced during the electoral campaign period. This means it is a clear indication that people are not happy, that people want a change in approach by the government.

The Labour Party will need to think hard of its way forward now. It does not have the 30,000 plus majority that it has relied on for so long. Meanwhile the Nationalist Party needs to figure out how to gain voters to continue reducing the gap. There are two and a half years to go to the general elections, and it will be interesting to see what impact these results will have. Undoubtedly PN Leader Bernard Grech will feel secure in his position as leader with the support of party exponents, but what of Abela? This would be the smallest gap between the two parties since 2013.

One thing is for sure, the court cases will continue to be a focal point in the news for the weeks and months to come, and the prosecution cannot afford to make further mistakes. Meanwhile, the government must get the money that was taken through the hospitals deal back.

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