The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Now what ?

Wednesday, 12 June 2024, 07:34 Last update: about 2 months ago

Joe Azzopardi

“Nothing can stop me, not even a pandemic, war or the establishment”

Robert Abela, prime minister

For some uncanny reason nobody has understood, Robert Abela had modified last Saturday’s MEP and Local Councils elections into a vote of confidence for him personally as prime minister and his government. His whole campaign ignored any local government issues and stressed that while Labour is for peace the Nationalists MEPs are all for war. Robert Abela even described last Saturday’s elections as a choice between him and Bernard Grech.

Throughout the campaign he frequently referred to ‘the establishment’, whatever or whoever that is. Speaking and sometimes screaming hysterically he claimed that ‘the establishment’ is propagating hate and division, and that it did not want elections but just wanted to protest. Ironically he said this while Manuel Cuschieri and Jason Micallef were organising a show of force protest in favour of the dishonoured Joseph Muscat in front of the Law Courts. Towards the end of the campaign Robert started pleading for votes. He implored to his faithful to Bring them to us: we'll understand what their issues are and look for solutions to their pains, we are your shield against the establishment.” He made an appeal to voters to vote for the Labour Party so the government can continue to implement its 2022 general election manifesto and that the vote last week was a vote for him, even though his name was not on the ballot sheet. Surreal, to say the least.

Now that the elections are over and we know the results, what will Robert Abela do? Will he accept and acknowledge that the loss of the fourth seat at the European Parliament and the fantastic result obtained by Roberta Metsola as a vote of no confidence in him and his government. I was sure that he would squirm around the facts and call it an impressive victory. In fact he did, asking supporters to keep calm. The Ġaħans shouting ‘Viva l-Labour, Viva l-Labour’ at the Naxxar Counting Hall must have missed the fact that Robert lost more than half of the majority Labour won in 2019.

Roberta Metsola got the biggest number of votes, a record, becoming the candidate to obtain the most votes ever in a Maltese election. A personal triumph. Certainly not what Robert Abela and all Labour speakers were expecting. Robert and his trolls started a vicious personal attack on the President of the European Parliament months ago. They levelled all sorts of disparaging adjectives against her. They called her a warmonger and an Israeli ally. Robert Abela even said that his hands were clean “not like somebody’s whose hands are smeared with blood.” He was referring to Metsola’s call for the European Union’s increase of its defence budget. Her statement triggered harsh criticism from Robert Abela and his government. However we learnt that the prime minister joined his counterparts and voted for the EU to “increase its overall defence readiness and capabilities to its needs and ambition in the context of rising threats and security challenges.” Abela never forgave Metsola for exposing his hypocrisy and instigated a series of verbal attacks which lasted throughout the six weeks of the campaigning.  Robert the people spoke, loudly.

Robert Abela’s third big fail last week was the loss of the fourth seat at the European Parliament. While before the elections he skirted journalists' questions on whether he expected Labour to retain its four seats in the European Parliament, now that the seat is lost he needs to explain. He needs to put in plain words if this is a renewal of the government's strong political mandate. He needs to enlighten us if he considers this as a vote of confidence.

And later this week I am expecting Robert Abela’s fourth debacle with the Labour’s poor showing at the local councils election. But on this later.


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