The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Gozo: a vote that screams and shouts!

Emmanuel J. Galea Sunday, 23 June 2024, 08:23 Last update: about 25 days ago

The June European Parliament (EP) and Local Council elections were the prime aim of this government, as they were adamant they wanted to give another crushing defeat to the PN opposition. In Gozo, the hard-core supporters understood and implemented this aim. Small groups met at the corner of a pavement early morning or after a Saturday mass and together they whispered, gossiped, and planned where the next target of a potential vote was.

Similarly, government departments geared themselves to accommodate anyone who wanted a medical appointment, even employment, favours from all departments, especially those concerned with the planning authority, sideline bureaucratic processes to accommodate anyone applying for a permit.

That is not all. They visited old people’s homes to pamper the aged and offer them all they could dream of. Singling out persons living on their own, they saw to it to provide them with their daily needs, attracted with the ultimate reward of the vote.

They left nothing to chance, they even provided free spectacles to older adults, maybe to ensure that these persons see the red colour on the vote more clearly.

And so they prepared to celebrate an even larger majority than 40,000 votes in 2019. In Gozo, anticipation was high, as they had done all that was possible to snatch every vote that came within their sticky grasp. ‘Dar San Guzepp’, the recently opened old people’s home, and the Gozo general hospital were beehives of activity where the bees did not care about pollen but votes.

The day following the election was calm, but soon rumours swirled around, which did not comfort the PL supporters. The EP votes were being sorted, and the majority predicted by all surveys such as Malta Today, Times of Malta, and Dr Vincent Marmara was not materialising. In fact, a much lower majority headed the news. This was comforting music to the PN supporters’ ears, but surely did not bode well for PL. All the perks they gave blew up in their faces and voters all over Malta and Gozo manifested their disapproval that things are not right – they screamed! The voters showed their frustration about how the Government was dealing with the present situation. The PL finally had to swallow its pride and predictions of a ‘solid victory’ to a mere 8,400 vote majority. Still, the issue that voters had swung to the PN did not materialise, but the fact remained that most of the 40,000 votes majority had vanished.

The council elections were next and Gozo started with a false indicator as the Ghasri local council swung to PL. This was mainly because of the mayor, who in 2019 contested the election on a PN ticket. Now, after Robert Abela whispered something in the mayor’s ears, the mayor contested the 2024 election on the PL ticket. His followers ignored their PN party allegiance and followed him blindfolded as the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

But here, the Local Council election results confirmed a swing to the PN. Let’s keep in mind that this was a protest vote and the voters did their choice smartly. This was not the general election where the outcome would be more sensitive. Time will tell how the intentions of these voters will play out in three years’ time.

The swing to the PN candidates was clear in all Gozo villages. Compared to  2019, PN managed to turn Gozo in its favour, obtaining 50.6% this year against the PL’s 46.1%.

Zebbug asserted its PN credentials at the outset. Remember that Zebbug covers a part of Marsalforn also, where the Gozo Ministry after so many promises has not yet constructed the breakwater. Another village bordering Marsalforn is Xaghra, here the PL kept its majority but lower so that the PN elected two more candidates to have the final reading 4 seats PL and 3 seats PN.

Xewkija is another PL stronghold and PL managed to hold onto their majority, still PN elected an extra seat.

Victoria defied this trend. A member elected to the council with the highest count of about 900 votes benefited from the incumbency of the Health Minister, who is also in charge of older adults. Though at a reduced majority, Victoria remained a resolute PN stronghold at 57%. Curiously enough, the voters from Victoria forgot about the controversial Marsalforn project, the mind-boggling traffic situation, the invasion of St George’s Pjazza, pavements, and the delayed over budget projects. The empty promise of the ring-road and the overall parking problems, including the disgusting state of the roads, add to the Gozo Ministry unkept pledges.

Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri’s fortress Qala sidelined the success which mayor Paul Butigieg achieved in halting the Hondoq project. From an overall majority of 76% in 2019, this has dwindled down to a whisker above 50%.

They came, they saw, but they did not conquer. The ghostly employments which the government dished out to persons reporting only a couple of hours daily is coming back to haunt them. Shakespeare said: “some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” This last category is the persons of trust and the cushy jobs this Gozo ministry has handed out irresponsibly to its followers at the expense of the taxpayer. These people could not handle the greatness of responsibilities which the Gozo Ministry entrusted to them, so the system is on the verge of collapsing.

The present government leaves a legacy of a national deficit of about €10,000 million, which the future generation will have to pick up. All newborns will have features from their mum and dad, including another unintended feature – the national debt levied on this newborn by the present labour government.

The notable swing towards PN in Malta and Gozo in the Local Council elections is a shout by these voters for help. The Vitals court decision spearheaded by PN Adrian Delia was an eye-opener at how things are being mismanaged by the government. This gave a much-needed gust of wind to boost the PN sails to at least prop it towards a new but still foggy horizon.

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