PN screened its election candidates
The Nationalist Party screened the candidates it was fielding for the general election, telling people who had pending criminal cases not to contest, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.
He was speaking at a press conference to launch the PN’s 70 candidates, 36 of whom are running on two districts. Nearly a third of them are contesting for the first time, 19 per cent of the candidates are women and a fifth are under 25.
Dr Gonzi was asked by The Times whether the party had screened its candidates, in the light of the open rebellions he has faced throughout the legislature from backbenchers such as Franco Debono and Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando.
Dr Gonzi steered away from referring to these problems but simply said he was proud of his team, through which the party could offer a secure future.
Replying to another question, he said the exercise he had entrusted to deputy leader Simon Busuttil – to re-establish contact with the people – had worked. The party’s electoral programme, which in draft form carried 1,300 proposals, was the fruit of this discussion.
“The party listened. It doesn’t mean we said yes to everyone and everything but we listened to people’s wishes, complaints and aspirations. I do hope, and believe, that we are closer to the people now,” he said.
On the tablet-for-all-schoolchildren proposal, Dr Gonzi admitted that the Malta Union of Teachers had not been consulted on its idea. He said this was because the PN did not want to “raise expectations”.
Asked whether a tablet was what children actually needed, since they are already exposed to technology in classrooms through computers and the interactive whiteboards, Dr Gonzi replied:
“We want children and teachers to be 10 steps ahead in terms of technology.”
He said the tablet would complement the education reform carried out in recent years.
Dr Gonzi listed the party’s electoral pledges, including the cost of each one, and the promise to achieve a balanced budget by the end of the 2015 financial year and a budgetary surplus in the following year.
He said the PN was the only party able to offer a secure future and a leap in quality for the people by continuing to build on what had been achieved.
“Labour is risking and tampering with your future. It is experimenting. But, on the contrary, PN can offer a secure future. We want to continue reducing the tax burden and leave more money in people’s pockets,” he said.
Asked whether he still believed the PN could win the election, Dr Gonzi replied in the affirmative.