The best time for a round-up on the goings on in an electoral campaign is always on a Monday. That’s because the different candidates will have been busy spraying their wise thoughts and marking their territories with the electorate. It’s no different on the little island where the long-weekend was the right excuse for campaigns to get into second-gear.
Firstly, the bureaucracy. The Electoral Commission has begun accepting nominations so we can now expect a daily update on the candidates who have officially registered their intention to contest. This is a second opportunity to inform the electorate of their intention - the first having been the pompous and colourful announcements of their respective parties. Until now the biggest surprise has been the submission of a nomination by far-right group leader Norman Lowell.
Norman Lowell was recently condemned to a two-year jail sentence (suspended for four years) although recent amendments to the electoral register might still allow the Imperium Europa chief to contest the election.
Remains the number one issue for the election. The recent spat with Italy over the duties and obligations of the two Mediterranean neighbours in rescuing and harbouring boatloads of migrants has provided an interesting background to a hot EP topic.
Italy’s main government party shares the same roof as Malta’s governing party within the EP. They are both members of the EPP. They have not shown the right sort of camaraderie on this particular occasion and this seems to destabilise the nationalist party’s arguments of strength in numbers on a European level. It was in fact the PN’s role in marshalling a report through a Committee at EP level that had been trumpeted as a measure of success early in the campaign. It will be difficult to square this with the incongruent behaviour of EP partners.
To make matters worse, Berlusconi’s private woes also highlight very indirectly another anomaly for the PN. A very public divorce is in the air in Italy - and divorce is one of the issues on which the conservative PN has always been loathe to make a move.
Blacking out the Greens
In other news, the Malta Broadcasting Authority refused the right Alternattiva Demokratika (the Green Party) the right to air its own programmes on a private channel. Hypocrytical par condicio (equal status) conditions were quoted as the basis for the refusal. Essentially if the AD wanted to go ahead with paying for space on private stations it would also have to host the other parties contesting the EP elections on the same programmes in order to guarantee equal exposure.
What the BA conveniently ignores is the fact that the two behemoths of Maltese politics - Labour and Nationalist parties - each enjoy the anomalous (in democratic Europe) position of OWNING their own broadcasting stations (TV and Radio).
In an effort to fill the pink pages of the local papers, the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition engaged in an exchange of ideas regarding what should be the one National day. The latest development is that the Labour Leader who had said that he was ready for an open discussion on the matter rejected a suggestion by the PM to declare Independence Day as the one national day. Apparently there are now more important things to discuss. At least one of them seems to know get his priorities right on the matter.
Latest list of nominations for EP elections (as of Sunday 3rd May):
Claudette Abela Baldacchino, John Attard Montalto, Ruben Attard, Glenn Bedingfield, Maria Camilleri, David Casa, Mary Gauci, Louis Grech, Norman Lowell, Roberta Metsola Tedesco Triccas, Kirill Micallef Stafrace, Maria Mizzi, Joseph Muscat, Edward Scicluna, and Christian Zammit.