With April 11 fast approaching, candidates for local council elections are already campaigning in earnest. Some 34 localities will be taking to the polls on this day to choose their local government.

A total of 377 nominations have been cast, 184 candidates on the PN ticket, 177 on the PL side, seven in the name of AD and nine independent candidates.

After much dodging and delaying of holding these elections, the country will be going to the hustings for the last time before the next general election. It will certainly be most interesting to see how things will pan out on the day. Combined with a national referendum on spring hunting, these elections are expected to reveal four important results. I will elaborate.

Firstly, the much anticipated referendum will hopefully settle once and for all an issue which has haunted a number of elections in the past years. Finally, people will have a chance to express what they think of the hunting of birds in spring. With the welcome end of partisan lobbying on the matter we can look forward to a civilised, democratic process of choice which will bring to light the aspirations of the Maltese society.

One trusts that whatever the outcome of this referendum, we will continue with our efforts to keep the healthy state of the environment on top of the national agenda in the firm belief that it is our responsibility to act as caretakers for future generations.

The second and third reflections will fall squarely with the electoral successes of the political parties. For the two major parties, this is a particularly crucial test.

The government, led by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, should be in a comfortable position to face these local elections, the majority of which are in Labour strongholds. Two years of a Labour-run government has exposed the true meaning of the ‘Malta tagħna lkoll ‘Malta tagħna biss’ (Malta ours alone). Labour activists and supporters went on a feeding frenzy of salacious positions, government jobs and perks and light speed fast tracking of applications and permits.

Such an unabashed populist perspective from a position of strong incumbency must surely mean that Muscat can rest on his laurels for this electoral test.

On the other hand, Simon Busuttil and the Nationalist Party will be the authentic underdog (apologies to Muscat) in these local elections. Notwithstanding this, the PN is proud to present the largest cohort of candidates for this election and is confident that this team will do the party proud even in tough Labour-led localities.

Any increase in PN votes during these elections will be a positive sign that these changes in the party have been well received

PN candidates will be driving home several crucial political messages on where Labour is failing the country in important sectors such as health, energy and industry.

As Busuttil further consolidates his role as leader of the PN, these electoral results will afford a valuable insight into how much the party has managed to recover from its last grinding defeat in the general election. Since then, heaps of effort has been invested in the regeneration of a party which, despite being in Opposition, has served the country loyally, steadily and with a great social conscience in the past two years.

Any increase in PN votes during these elections will be a positive sign that these changes in the party have been well received, much appreciated and will set the PN on a strong bulwark in anticipation of the next general election.

The fourth and last reflection on the electoral result of April 11 will be, in my opinion, by far the most important. Thirty-four localities in Malta and Gozo will be asked to choose their representatives to run the locality.

Like all other candidates contesting, I am engaged in a programme of house visits in my locality and never cease to be amazed by the divergent attitudes of residents to these elections.

On the one hand you have those who appreciate that in order for their locality to run smoothly and up to their expectations, it is imperative they pitch in on the day to cast their vote.

Others tend to take a more laid-back attitude, justifying their indifference with accounts of how insignificant their contribution would be.

Thankfully this indifference is not widespread but is symptomatic of a common feeling in most localities. Local councils serve our communities in a myriad of ways and failing to make your choice at this level is simply saying that you could not care less if your locality goes to the dogs.

Our local newspapers and web portals are at times inundated with people expressing their satisfaction or dissatisfaction at the way their local council is run or has reacted to a particular situation. Here is your chance once again to be heard.

You may think that your one vote is inconsequential but that one vote is your right to choose the best leaders in your community and may very well be that one vote to tip the scale in favour of an extra seat for a particular party.

On April 11, make your voice heard by voting for the best candidates in your locality to ensure the improvement of your community. Let’s work towards stronger communities as a driving force for a stronger society. Good luck to all candidates and thank you for your service.

info@carolinegalea.com

The author is a PN local councillor in Santa Luċija.

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