The Malta Independent 13 June 2024, Thursday
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TMID Editorial: Independent candidates and third parties

Tuesday, 11 June 2024, 11:18 Last update: about 2 days ago

The 2024 European Parliament elections saw many noteworthy points.

The biggest surprise was the gap between the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party. Pre-election surveys showed this gap to be over 24,000 votes, yet in reality, it was below 9,000. The PN did far better than expected.

Both parties celebrated the result, although the Labour Party’s internal blame game is underway. To be expected after such a drastic reduction in vote gap. One wonders how Prime Minister Robert Abela will handle this situation.

But another noteworthy point is the rise of independent candidates.

Independents collectively received more first count votes than all third parties put together. Independents received 22,352 first count votes. That is a sizeable number of votes, and the highest amount ever given to independent candidates collectively in MEP elections.

If one were to add the number of first preference votes that went to all independent candidates and third parties together, they add up to being close the quota required to elect a Member of the European Parliament. Collectively, they received 33,102 votes, and the quota was 37,180. That alone is an interesting statistic for a country that has been politically dominated by the PL and the PN for so long. To put things into perspective, in the 2019 MEP elections, independents and third parties received a total of 20,334 first preference votes. Some independent candidates fared very well the 2024 election. Arnold Cassola for instance, received 12,706 first count votes. Conrad Borg Manche, a former Mayor for the Labour Party, received 5,936 first count votes.

The results show that people are becoming more willing to vote for candidates who are not tied to one of the two major political parties. This, despite the advantage that the PL and PN have in terms of owning their own media stations, having more funds for campaigning, and having larger teams and the party in government having the power of incumbency. It also shows that a portion of the electorate did not connect to either party.

The Labour Party could possibly have lost a number of its moderate votes through the way it handled the Vitals inquiry, and the highly controversial statements the Prime Minister had made. Meanwhile the Nationalist Party, while gaining votes when compared to the 2019 MEP elections, hasn’t managed to win over enough people to receive a majority.

There were likely to have been protest votes given to third parties and independent candidates from people not willing to vote for their party and couldn’t stomach voting for their party’s main rival, but there are others who are fed up with the two-party dominance and saw in the other candidates people who they wanted to support.

Third parties and independent candidates have a higher chance of success in these elections when compared to general elections, because they are country wide quotas, rather than district based. No single third party or independent candidate on their own came close to getting a seat, it is true, but the showing for independent and third party candidates was, collectively, significant. It cannot and must not be brushed off.

The signs that people are not pleased with the two major parties are there, and the signs that many are willing to vote elsewhere are there for all to see. signs that many are willing to vote elsewhere are there for all to see.



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