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There’s still a long way to go

One of the many attractive Mal­tese sayings is It-tiġrija sal-barkun (it’s not over until it’s over). So here we are, in the third week of the official election campaign. Less than seven weeks to go, but that is a long time. Time enough for predictions (led by polls of course) to swing significantly. This is what happened in 2008.

Mizzi seems to have finally been pulled out, following the battering he received from Tonio Fenech
- Austin Sammut

As I can understand, last week’s polls ranged between 11 points (Malta Today) and six points (The Sunday Times), in favour of Labour. The former is a good lead. The latter, with all the “don’t knows”, and the margin of error accepted by the pollsters, is, shall we say, marginal. What is to be noted in Malta Today survey results is, one, the overall reduction in PN support in its traditional strongholds in the ninth and 10th districts, and, two, the way the new vote is going towards the Nationalists.

With regard to the first, this is no surprise, since the voters in these districts always tend to “play this game” (and I don’t mean to be disrespectful to them, but only to be realistic, based on past history). When they come to the moment of judgement in the polling booth things would be different – for many at least.

As for the second, it is encouraging for the PN to see new voters favouring that party. First time voters range in the 18 to 23 year old bracket and they are the people who have the longest future ahead of them; a future which they cherish and care for. Most of them are also highly educated, benefitting from free education at tertiary level.

Certainly, these are people who can reason and weigh the options. And what is important is that they tend be liberal. So why should liberals back a “conservative” party, as the PN is labelled? Interesting.

These polls, however, must be judged in terms of the time and circumstances in which they are conducted. To date, in the last fortnight or so, the Labour Party has come out forcefully, the water and electricity “plan” leading their barrage. Then there are volumes of other proposals. One would think we were approaching heaven. The PN stance has largely been to react, attempting to tear the Labour plans to pieces.

We have had reports from “experts” presented by both sides. I would say that so far there has been much of a stalemate. We have had a full mouthful of the fresh faced, slick, fact machine Konrad Mizzi (and how important the English-speaking is, because otherwise the constantly increasing number of English speaking voters would be at a loss).

I think we’ve had more than enough of him although he might be a margin above the Kremlin-style press conference troika of Karmenu Vella, Edward Scicluna and Carmel Mangion.

They talked nonsense about Malta’s unemployment rate being worse than Spain’s and Dom Mintoff’s economic performance being better than today’s.

In fact, after an opening week of his cool presentations day in, day out, Mizzi seems to have finally been pulled out, following the battering he received from Tonio Fenech on Bondi Plus.

He had by then “tilef il-boxxla” (literally translated as “lost his compass” or perhaps “his direction” – very hard to translate this one). However, this being said, voters (I for one) are not in a position to judge Labour’s proposals until the full and complete technical and financial reports are published, something they are refusing to do.

Not only do they have be published, but they have to be analysed thoroughly by those who are in the know (and I certainly am not one of them), and this particularly in the face of the damning KPMG report. And what about the “private” investors who have shown an interest in the project? So let’s not waste any more time and space on what may very well turn out to be pie in sky.

Many of the other Labour proposals have already been made by the PN or, better still, are already in place. The PN has largely stayed silent with putting forward the Nationalist proposals. These are expected this very week; unless they have already started to trickle out by the time this piece is published. I am sure there are many more proposals up the PN’s sleeve.

I must say that the only really concrete proposal that the PN has come out with, until the time of writing at least, was that on Gozo.

Lawrence Gonzi presented a long list of clearly doable proposals on that island’s future. I must say that I have been asked many times by close Gozitan friends in the last months to help Gozo temper its insularity.

I think that the Prime Minister’s proposals last week go a very long way to addressing this.

Joseph Muscat was vague and wishy washy about his proposals for Gozo. He has now said he will deliver soon. Let’s see

A very interesting and attractive week ahead!

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