Once upon a time there was a super majority

Robert Abela will have to accept that the super majorities for Labour are a thing of the past and that the new campaign strategy will have to be based on differences of a few thousand votes

Opposition leader Bernard Grech (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Opposition leader Bernard Grech (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Yesterday’s vote caught everyone by surprise. Even though MaltaToday’s survey was the closest to the result, it was still way off the mark. Surely, we got many aspects to our survey correct but all the surveys failed to gauge the mood of new voters who simply felt disconnected until the very last moment when they entered the polling booth and voted. And when they voted they did what appeared right to them. Voting for Labour was simply not the right thing to do. 

In the last 24 hours, I changed my mind about two things. On Saturday, as I accompanied my eldest daughter to the polling booth I was bombarded with questions of how to vote.   

Walking to the polling booth I tried my best to explain the voting system and the importance and value of the number 1 vote and the concept behind the single transferable vote.    

At least I got the message across that one can vote for one candidate and then put a number 2 to another candidate and go on to vote to yet another candidate. By the time we walked up the hill to the polling booth I was asked the million-dollar question. “Who should I vote for?”  And to that query I answered: “I am not telling you for whom to vote, that is your decision.” 

When we did exit the polling booth, I was pleased to see an empowered person who felt she was playing a part in the democratic process. I was humbled by the whole episode, and I accepted that there is no better way to practice democracy if not to allow someone to be part of the whole experience. So, there you go, I take back my words on young people being unsuitable to vote. 

The second thing that I learnt is that after yesterday’s electoral result, my presentiment that Bernard Grech would never make it as future prime minister was wrong. As things stand today, the earthquake allows for a possibility that Grech can win a national election. 

I may disagree with him on innumerable policies, but I doubt whether people share my views.  At this stage what concerns people is the need for an alternative government. This electoral result will also trigger donors to donate to the Nationalist party. This electoral result will also invigorate people to return to the PN fold. 

But Grech who will surely stay on as leader, will still need Roberta Metsola’s magic to win the next national election. 

Even though he needs to work more on his presentation, focus and delivery on key subjects he could still make it. The Nationalist Party’s relative success in this election was the result of Labour losing the super majority that stood at 42,500 votes in 2019 and because the people are angry with Labour because of the arrogance that has characterised Robert Abela’s administration.  

I guess the last straw for many was Robert Abela’s decision to back Joseph Muscat, who is not only discredited but is being charged with serious corruption crimes. Abela believed that by embracing Muscat he would stop the haemorrhage in his party. It probably contributed to erasing the big pale red alliance, who felt let down by Muscat. That alliance had elected Labour in 2013, 2017 and 2022 with landslide victories. 

Robert Abela also misread the mood of the public, especially when it came to issues such as the issuance of cheques, which served to offend more people than endear them to government. And then there were other considerations such as the Siggiewi social accommodation ID card fiasco, not to mention the endemic problems such as the planning and construction frenzy, traffic, cost of living, urban spaces and the population crisis. 

Abela still has time to change course and tackle the issues, but he will need to stop and think.  

He will need to take tough decisions. He will need to reinvent the party on many issues and think of what it means to be a Labour Party. But he will first need to decide whether he is going to administer the country till the end of his term or call an early election. The best in his case would be to walk the walk and govern the full five years. 

Abela will have to accept that the super majorities for Labour are a thing of the past and that the new campaign strategy will have to be based on differences of a few thousand votes.  

My last word goes to Arnold Cassola, before going to print, I did not know his final vote.  What I do know is that he attained the third highest number of first count votes but will not make it as an MEP. A pity. His campaign was impressive; his message inspiring and his political message different. It is a pity that he is no longer associated with the Greens and that he worked alone. As for the Greens, no one is to blame for their result other than themselves especially their leader Sandra Gauci. They look like a motley group of misfits. Uninspiring and at times comical. It is time for them to pack up and disband and hope for someone else to come along and hold the green flag.