The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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TMID Editorial: The Prime Minister’s decisions

Saturday, 15 June 2024, 10:57 Last update: about 2 months ago

The 2024 MEP and local council elections did not fare well for the Labour Party.

The MEP elections saw the gap between the PL and PN shrink, significantly, to just 8,400 votes. Indeed the PL lost a seat in the European Parliament.

As for the first two days of the local council elections – when this editorial was written the result of day 3 were not yet known – the Labour Party was not faring as strongly as it did in the past, losing control of the local councils in San Ġwann, Msida and St Paul’s Bay, in which the PN gained the majority of seats, and with a number of other councils ending in deadlock.

The people have sent a message to the Government that they are not as pleased with the Government as they once were, and this despite all the goodies that the Government gave just prior to the election.

So what does this mean? Well Abela still received the majority of votes in the MEP elections and, as by the end of the local councils being counted on day 2, had the majority of votes in the local councils. But he does not have much wiggle room.

Going by the 8,400 votes in the MEP elections, it’s not that big a gap, especially when one considers that out of the 370,000 registered voters, only 270,000 cast their vote, and 10,000 of those were invalid. This shows that there were many who didn’t have faith in any politician who contested, which is also a message in itself.

Former Minister, Evarist Bartolo, had posted a Facebook comment earlier in the week, one which asks pertinent questions. “A Prime Minister takes difficult decisions in the first two years after winning an election. After a win-loss that he had in the 8 June elections, the Prime Minister is saying that he will take difficult decisions regarding environmental degradation, the number of foreign workers to bring in, excessive construction, the way restaurants put out tables and chairs on the streets, and what kind of economy we will have in order to think long-term for the benefit of our country ... These are problems that have been accumulating over the years, inherited from one Government to the next, and they require a united national effort to be addressed seriously. The Prime Minister didn’t start taking these needed decisions after the 2022 election when he was much stronger and able to lose votes (instead there is where he made it worse, or let things become worse, and that is why we saw the electoral result last Saturday), how will he take them on the eve of the 2027 election when he is far weaker and doesn’t really afford to lose votes?”

Bartolo is right, there is a lot that needs to be done in the country. In addition to the points he mentioned, one can add tackling traffic issues for instance, and decisions to tackle that problem might not be popular, but are needed. Serious decisions also need to be taken about planning policies.

This is not to mention the obvious questions surrounding the rule of law. Complaints about the inaction by the Police Commissioner and Attorney General have been plenty, will the Prime Minister take the needed decision?

Another question to ask is, has this election revealed that the moderates are no longer willing to look the other way when faced with Government scandals? Probably.

The Government has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons many a time – the Prime Minister’s reaction to the Vitals inquiry, the driving license scandal, the benefits fraud scandal, the Siġġiewi gerrymandering case ... the list goes on.

The Prime Minister cannot act like he did on the Vitals inquiry, and needs to tighten his ship to ensure that no more abuse takes place. Enough is enough.

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