Editorial: The future after Saturday’s vote

Last Updated on Thursday, 6 June, 2024 at 10:05 am by Andre Camilleri

Malta will go to the polls on Saturday to elect its six representatives at the European Parliament, and the local council set-up for the next five years.

The 8 June elections are not as crucial as a general election. There will be no change of government. But the outcome will tell us so much about the way the people are thinking.

It is not an easy time for the country. A former Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, and three former ministers, Chris Fearne, Edward Scicluna and Konrad Mizzi, form part of a list of people and companies that are charged before the courts with serious criminal offences. Once the election is over, their cases will continue to be heard and, no doubt, will take up much of the public attention in the weeks, months and years to come.

Prime Minister Robert Abela has linked the vote on Saturday to one of confidence in his own government. Rather bizarrely, and unbecoming of a head of government, he is using the election to stir up public sentiment against the judiciary and the media, against whom he has embarked on a mission to denigrate. While ignoring the elephant in the room – the cases against his predecessor and others – he is seeking public support to continue leading the country in the same direction.

And he and his government are doing their best to sway the election in Labour’s favour. Never before has a government used its power of incumbency to such an extent. The election campaign has been intermingled with an interminable list of goodies the government distributed to voters in a bid to influence their thinking.

The Nationalist Party, for its part, is doing its best to milk the moment the country is going through, basing much of its campaign on the government’s wrongdoings in the hospitals’ deal, and promising a better administration. Its limited resources compound its difficulties in getting its message through.

The smaller parties and independent candidates stand a better opportunity of making inroads into the duopoly on Saturday, when compared to their chances in a general election. Yet, even here, they have to compete with much stronger adversaries who have more power and a better reach to the electorate.

As said earlier, an EP and local council election does not bring a halt to the country as much as a general election does. But a national poll is always a poll, and the slowdown that is experienced is there for all to see.

Whatever the result of the election, the country must quickly get back to its normal rhythm although, it must be pointed out that the hospitals’ cases have in their own right caused some kind of destabilisation. After all, it is the first time that a former head of government is facing criminal charges in court, together with others who held or still hold important public positions. So it is to be expected that these cases will continue to have an effect on the country’s life, and they will also continue to have their political repercussions.

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