Editorial: The sixth seat

Last Updated on Friday, 16 June, 2023 at 12:13 pm by Andre Camilleri

We are one year away from the next round of European Parliament elections, which will be coupled with local council elections.

The first will determine the six Maltese representatives in Brussels and Strasbourg, while the latter will elect mayors and councillors for the 68 localities for the next five years.

The elections come more or less midway through the third consecutive legislative term under a Labour government.

The Labour Party has won one election after another for more than a decade, and it is unlikely that the 2024 MEP and local council elections will bring about a change. But, whatever happens on 9 June, 2024, it will enable the political parties to take stock of the situation before they start their plans for the 2027 general election.

The most recent surveys have shown that the Labour Party has given up some of the advantage it accumulated. But the Nationalist Party is still too far behind to be seen to be making a threat. Added to this, it must be said that MEP and local elections are a different matter when compared to a general election – for one thing, the turnout is lower and there are then more people who are more inclined to experiment with their vote.

All eyes will be on who will be grabbing the sixth seat. As things stand now, Labour is likely to elect at least three candidates and the PN will take up another two. Who will take the sixth seat is the biggest question mark, and one cannot discount the possibility that it can be won by an independent candidate. The fact that Malta will be one big district for the MEP election makes it less difficult for independent candidates – or others from the smaller parties – to make some inroads.

There are many factors that will have an effect on the outcome. For example, the Labour Party will not have Miriam Dalli and Alfred Sant on their list, with the first dropping out to become a minister while the second will not contest after a long career in politics. Another factor is the political growth of Roberta Metsola since the last election – the PN MP has been appointed as President of the European Parliament.

Although, as said earlier, MEP and local elections are distinct from a general election, it is clear that happenings in the country will also have a bearing on how people vote. Inflation, which has hit us hard, and political scandals, which have hit us harder, will also play their part in the game, as will other matters that will come up between now and June 2024.

The main political parties are still to provide a comprehensive list of the candidates who will represent them on the ballot sheet. We will know more in the next few months.

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