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Muscat says Labour still has 'long way to go'
Labour leader Joseph Muscat says that the party is still the underdog as the PL still has a lot to do to convince people that it is a viable alternative government.
25 March 2012, 12:00am
"We are still underdogs because at the moment the government is using MEPA and other governmental entities for its own benefit."
In the recorded radio broadcast, Muscat was interviewed by the editor on The Malta Independent, Stephen Calleja. Asked whether the local council election held earlier this month, in which Labour gained 55.7% of the vote, had put the Opposition at an advantage, Muscat said the Labour party "still has a lot to do."
"That is why our reaction to the local council elections result was responsible and we did not get carried away."
Muscat said that Labour still need to convince people that the party is a viable alternative to the Nationalist Party which has been in power for most of the last 25 years.
"We cannot rest on our laurels as the result of the next general election will be definite when the last vote is cast and counted. There still is a long way to go," Muscat said.
On the high level of abstentionism on the 10 March local elections, Muscat said that this phenomenon was not exclusive to the Nationalist Party but "abstentionism has also affected the Labour Party in traditionally strong Labour strongholds. This is a signal that people are not happy with way local councils are led and was a message which the party has to understand."
Asked whether the Labour Party can be a viable alternative when it still has veteran party stalwarts in its ranks Muscat said that persons like Joe Debono Grech, Karmenu Vella and Leo Brincat have been successful ministers in previous administrations.
"The electorate must not vote Labour just because the other party has been in power for such a long time. People must vote for us because we have better ideas. We have new people, new ideas and the best team of candidates ever presented by a political party in Malta."
Muscat also criticised the out-reach campaign the Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi is undertaking and said "recent meetings which the Prime Minister had with public officials within the Nationalist Party structures indicates that he has no notion of the difference between the party and the state."
He added that it is "not exceptional for me to meet people, but it is a normal thing to do even if there are no cameras."
According to the Opposition leader, the Labour Party has become the natural home for liberals in Malta and this can be proved by the migration of previous PN exponents to Labour. "As time goes by more and more people will realise that that Labour Party is the only force that can bring about much needed changes."
"We do not fear speaking about our past. The party has had its good and bad moments and I have also apologised for past errors committed by Labour. Respect must be gained by being man enough to admit mistakes committed in the past."
On the current political situation, Muscat said that the government's position is "untenable" and described the situation as a "crisis of compromises."
He said that the status quo might be prolonged by more compromises in Parliament and lambasted the government for only taking one vote in Parliament since January. Muscat hit out at the delay in discussing the Opposition's motion on justice and home affairs and said "the Prime Minister is defending the Home Affairs minister in this matter."
Muscat said this motion will be an important test for the government in Parliament. Asked whether the Opposition intends to table another vote of no confidence in the government, Muscat said explained that it is up to the government to prove its majority by discussing and voting on the budget bill and the motion on justice and home affairs.
"The motion of no-confidence in January was not a defeat for the Opposition because since then the government has not taken a vote in parliament. It was our duty to table the motion of no-confidence." Muscat also stressed that the Prime Minister cannot postpone the votes any longer.
Asked whether an election might be held on 9 June as reported on Labour's news portal, Maltastar, Muscat said that he is not worried about speculation on possible early elections.
"I am worried about the government's financial performance in first two months of the year. Statistics published this week show that the government is off target by €60 million," Muscat said.
On Lawrence Gonzi re-election as PN leader, Muscat said he was not surprised at the landslide vote because "PN delegates are handpicked by the party's administration and it would have been a surprise if Gonzi gained fewer votes."
Muscat jokingly added "I was expecting him to gain 100%. In fact he gained a bit more than (former Tunisian president) Ben Ali."
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