Election Watch

Anthony Manduca highlights the main events of week six of the electoral campaign.

Sunday, February 10

Speaking on Radio 101 Lawrence Gonzi says this about Labour: “These people are projecting themselves as saviours but the last time they were in power they brought about a disaster”.

Joseph Muscat and Louis Grech appear on One TV. Dr Muscat praises his deputy leader for compiling a report, as an MEP, on EU budgeting and financial management. Anglu Farrugia agrees to represent the Labour Party at a Commonwealth parliamentary conference in the Falklands. Questioned by The Times, he says: “I never had any problems with the Labour Party. My problem was with Joseph Muscat”.

Alternattiva Demokratika general secretary Ralph Cassar says donations to parties of over €5,000 should be declared while those over €40,000 should be illegal. He suggests State funding to parties at €3 per vote.

Monday, February 11

Lawrence Gonzi is given an enthusiastic welcome at Junior College. He says at a press conference that the PN will continue to invest tens of millions of euros in education. He also says a PN government will award 3,000 more scholarships in the next legislature.

Joseph Muscat, speaking outside St Vincent de Paul, says Labour will not introduce mandatory private pensions. During a televised interview organised by the Broadcasting Authority, Dr Muscat says the reference to the Roman Catholic religion in the Constitution should not be removed because it is part of Malta’s cultural heritage.

Tuesday, February 12

Lawrence Gonzi says at the Grand Hotel in Gozo that a large chunk of the €1.1 billion EU funds for Malta will be invested in education. He promises increased University and Mcast courses. Simon Busuttil says the PN will give a €500 ‘discovery grant’ to all young people on their 21st birthday for a cultural experience in another EU country. Dr Busuttil says Toni Abela’s position as Labour deputy leader is untenable and he should resign, adding that during two separate television debates with him, Dr Abela had denied exerting pressure on the police over a particular case.

Dr Abela resists calls to resign after a secret recording emerged in which he talks about finding a Labourite policeman telling him not to press charges on a case. Joseph Muscat, speaking during a visit to Wignacourt Museum in Rabat, says censorship laws should be further updated to allow more freedom and personal choice.

Michael Briguglio says the war on drugs is a failure. The AD chairman says Malta should follow the Portuguese model which reclassified drug possession from a criminal to an administrative offence.

Wednesday, February 13

The three party leaders take part in a lively debate at the University in which they are cheered and booed. Lawrence Gonzi says students are the country’s future, Joseph Muscat says when the country took major decisions it always moved forward as one people and Michael Briguglio calls for an end to partisanship.

Dr Gonzi says at Mosta that Labour “is just an experiment promising everything to everyone”. Simon Busuttil says at a press conference that Dr Muscat is using two weights and two measures with Toni Abela and Anglu Farrugia.

Dr Muscat says at a press conference that jobs seekers who continue studying will not only receive unemployment benefits but also a stipend. He says students who repeat the second year of sixth form will not lose their stipend.

Thursday, February 14

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Austin Gatt tells a press conference he suspects he is being “framed” by the Labour Party, saying there were serious inconsistencies between the latest e-mails published by The Times and Malta Today regarding meetings with an oil trader. He points out he met oil trader George Farrugia on non-constituency issues at most “once every three months” but never spoke about oil procurement or tenders.

Lawrence Gonzi, visiting the Sliema offices of Neo Games Ltd, an Israeli gaming company, says a new PN government would set up a gaming industry agency to market Malta’s potential in this area.

Joseph Muscat, during a visit to the Michele Peresso store in Birkirkara, says a Labour government would be willing to discuss shop sales rules but this depends on a common position adopted by retailers. Visiting the Bidnija Shooting Range, Dr Muscat claims a minister may have intervened in the release of a person from police custody. In a joint statement later the entire Cabinet deny such a claim.

Friday, February 15

Lawrence Gonzi calls on Joseph Muscat to sack Toni Abela after a second recording emerges in which Dr Abela is heard saying could have gone to the police to report drug dealing at a Labour Party club.

In an interview with The Times Dr Abela defends his decision not to inform police about reports of drug trafficking at the Labour Party club in Attard 2010. Dr Abela says he used his discretion as he did not want to put “honest” committee members at risk.

The police look into Austin Gatt’s Swiss bank account after the minister specifically requested this to show it was not connected to any criminal activity. Joseph Muscat says in Siġġiewi that Dr Gatt’s claims that he forgot to declare his Swiss bank account dented his credibility.


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