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Election watch

Anthony Manduca takes a look at the way the first week unfolded

• Monday January 7

The campaign officially opens with both main parties launching their campaign slogans, logos and first billboards.

The Nationalist Party’s slogan is Futur fis-Sod: Xogħol, Saħħa, Edukazzjoni (A Secure Future: Work, Health, Education). The PN’s logo consists of what looks like five rainbow coloured petals that form other colours when they overlap. Beneath them is a white and red petal, symbolising the Maltese identity.

The PN’s first billboard of the campaign features Lawrence Gonzi and deputy leader Simon Busuttil, confirming that Dr Busuttil will be playing a leading role in the PN electoral campaign.

In his first press conference Dr Gonzi points out that the party’s electoral logo symbolises that the PN was the “party of diversity”.

The Labour Party’s slogan is Malta tagħna lkoll (Malta Belongs To Us All). Labour’s logo is an abstract landscape depicting land, sea and sun with the Maltese flag in the middle. The party’s first billboards feature images of families, children or workers holding a sign with the Labour slogan.

Addressing a party rally Dr Muscat highlighted the importance of both Independence and Malta becoming a Republic. He pointed out that “liberals, progressives and moderates” had the same aim, “to make sure this country will be the best in Europe”.

• Tuesday January 8

The Nationalist Party launches its electoral manifesto in which it explains its beliefs in areas such as the role of the family in society, civil liberties, work, education and healthcare. It highlights the importance of recognising the changing nature of families, reaching out to liberal elements in society.

Labour announces its plan to cut utility bills. It consists of a €370 million project (€68 million funded by the taxpayer) which would convert the Delimara (extension) power station into a gas-fired plant and build a new power station (financed by the private sector) run on gas, which Labour says will lead to a 25 per cent cut in utility tariffs. Two gas storage tanks will also be built. The cost of water will be reduced by five per cent.

• Wednesday January 9

Konrad MizziKonrad Mizzi

During a trip to Berlin Lawrence Gonzi receives a welcome boost from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who praised Malta’s “excellent economic performance”. Dr Gonzi sates that his Government’s proposal for a gas pipeline, partly financed by the EU, would reduce electricity tariffs.

Addressing a business breakfast Joseph Muscat promised to appoint an energy minister should Labour win. He also ruled out the privatisation of Enemalta. Labour candidate Konrad Mizzi is given a high profile role in explaining the party’s energy policy. Dr Muscat later tells a Labour gathering in Mqabba that there will be no wage rises for MPs or ministers in the next legislature under a Labour administration.

• Thursday January 10

Tonio FenechTonio Fenech

Finance Minister Tonio Fenech slams Labour’s energy proposals saying the plan will cost €300 million more than forecast “which will mean more taxes and higher utility bills”. He questions Labour’s timeframe for the project and points out that the private sector could not guarantee a fixed rate for the price of gas. PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil says on TV that Labour’s energy proposals are contrary to EU law on public procurement and safety and would not be eligible for EU funding.

Joseph Muscat said Labour would allow households and businesses a choice on utility billing frequency: every one, three or six months. The Labour leader also condemned the physical and moral violence against Nationalist supporters in the 1980s and stressed the importance of national unity.

• Friday January 11

Lawrence Gonzi said a new Nationalist Government would invest heavily in primary healthcare. He asked where Labour was getting its money from, saying the party must have already spent €1 million in the campaign.

Joseph Muscat revealed that he would step down should a Labour government fail to reduce utility rates. He also said Labour’s energy plans did not rule out the possibility of a gas pipeline. A Labour government, he said, would disqualify companies that employ people precariously from bidding for Government tenders. It would also create a charter for workers and further promote gender equality.

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