Off we go again!

The narrowest of wins for gonzipn. Euphoric Nationalists. Confused Labourites. A revamped Cabinet. Labour without a leader - not to mention the same fate for Alternattiva Demokratika (even if later) and Azzjoni Nazzjonali. A number of former ministers not elected. And some of those that have been have lost their Cabinet posts.

Back to business, the Mistra development topping the agenda. The Prime Minister goes on a well-deserved holiday and we all have some quiet days of reflection all round over Easter, before the Prime Minister, no doubt, announces the inauguration of the new Parliament on his return. But before that we need to hold the required bye-elections to elect MPs in place of those who have won a seat in two districts. We also need a Speaker of the House. The government will not, this time, choose a man or woman from its ranks in Parliament. It has far from the very comfortable majority it had last time round to do this. But there are many valid persons around, not least of which some party stalwart who was not elected (Guess who?).

So that was or will be the order of events and off we go again. The election was a perfect cliffhanger. It could have easily gone either way. The last polls gave a more comfortable majority to gonzipn then it actually achieved, albeit by a few more thousands. Certain revelations in the dying moments of the campaign could easily have derailed gonzipn and given Labour perhaps the same type of majority that the government now enjoys. The effect of those revelations was tremendously damaging but the PN machine bounced back into full gear and, with the resourcefulness and wily strategy it has now been renowned for over many electoral campaigns, it just about won the day.

It has been a campaign that we must all be proud of in terms of the maturity the political parties showed. I have been following electoral campaigns - and, indeed, followed the counting hall process - ever since and including 1971 (yes, I'm getting on!). The atmosphere and behaviour was fantastic and second to none and many from all camps deserve a good pat on the back.

So why did gonzipn win?

I had been thinking of going into a full analysis but then I read that excellent article by Ian Refalo (March 19) entitled The Psychology Of The Electoral Campaign and that took most of the wind out of my sails. However, even with the risk of repeating some of what Mr Refalo wrote (with which I agree 100 per cent and that is a rarity), I would like to make a few points.

Best Nationalist tool: gonzipn (that is why I have been using this word all along). Labour tried to ridicule this slogan. I, personally, was very sceptical at the beginning. But it worked wonders. First of all Lawrence Gonzi and the great Kate Gonzi, of course, portray an image of stability and sound moral values just in themselves. He is a no-nonsense man. He has already shown this and will continue to do so. He can be trusted. He does not have the aura of irregularity (real or perceived) that Labour hung over some of his Cabinet colleagues. The slogan was a brilliant idea (and, by the way, I know who proposed it but I'm not telling).

Second best Nationalist tool: Wooing the new voters and, particularly, the thousands of students in tertiary education (and Alfred Sant must be congratulated for his full cooperation at the University).

Third best Nationalist tool: Dr Gonzi's tireless efforts into the night, personally attempting to bring back lost Nationalist sheep. I am sure a good part of these efforts were successful.

Best Labour tool (in gonzipn's favour): "Reception" or "repeater" class (whatever).

Second best Labour tool (in gonzipn's favour): Reopening the EU accession package.

Third best Labour tool (in gonzipn's favour): Dr Sant (an all-rounder), Charles Mangion (of DNA and "siegħa b'siegħa" [flat rate] fame) and George Vella (who took on the student population by insulting them - just like Dr Sant took on Dom Mintoff - without knowing what he was doing, and lost).

That is my brief analysis.

Now, to look forward to very exciting but also very challenging times. Our focus must now be one, and a strong one at that: The vision for 2015. The vision for Malta to be a centre of excellence in a number of key sectors. This vision is clear. The Prime Minister and his government will continue to provide the infrastructure and do the necessary groundwork. We are the foot soldiers. We have to make it work. We have to utilise it to the full. We have to attract the users to what will be an international centre and a hub.

And don't forget that five years before that we will have a surplus budget for the first time ever in our political history. That means there will be more money to spend.

There will be hiccups, of course, but that is normal. There are also situations which can pull us back, like the prices of crude oil and cereals and the economic situation in the United States which, with the States being what it is, will have worldwide effects. But we have never been a nation to give up or to relent. Let us work together (and I mean together) as hard as we can for this beautiful country of ours.


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