A long campaign

19 days to go...

Cartoon by Mark Scicluna
Cartoon by Mark Scicluna

It is 19 days to go until the 9 March national election date. MaltaToday together with our very popular 24x7 online edition will be providing readers with a detailed reportage of what is happening and an analysis of the day's events. 

It will do this through the MaltaToday election specials which will be published from Monday to Friday, Saturday excluded.

This has been a long and tiring electoral campaign. 

Everyone seems to be questioning the wisdom of such a long campaign, this has led to serious fatigue within political circles and more significantly a slowdown in local business activity.

It is obvious that the long campaign was construed to favour the PN led by Lawrence Gonzi, but it seems that this has actually backfired.

The Nationalist party had probably underestimated the transformation of the Labour party from a mediocre party in 2008 into an organised well-oiled marketing machine.

It also underplayed the probability of being haunted by events from the past which were bound to surface now at such a critical time.  The oil scandal is one of them.

More significantly the PN campaign was taken off guard by the fact that the PL campaign did not start off with a negative message. 

Someone seems to have learnt from past mistakes.

In 2008, the PL embarked on a negative campaign and this had clearly not worked. 

Five years later the PN landed itself in a negative campaigning mode.

More significantly as the campaign moved on more former Nationalists were willing to align themselves publicly with the PL.

They included very surprisingly Paul Bonello of Finco, Kevin Drake a former head of Radio101, former minister Jesmond Mugliett's wife Karen Mugliett, the entertainer Daniel Chircop and artist Kenneth Zammit Tabona amongst others.

Their decision to take a public stand may be instigated by the fact that the polls have been showing a Labour majority.   

But it may also be genuine, fired by the attacks some of them have experienced in the last years by the usual blogger who many associate with the PN. 

Behind the scenes there is little doubt that many others have flocked to the Labour party, some of them are of course seeking some form of insurance policy, knowing or aware that the chances for the PN to regain ground is difficult.

Again, nothing is impossible in politics and anything could happen but it is unclear how the PN wishes to win over the hearts of so many disgruntled Nationalists.

The Gonzi-Busuttil tandem has tried very hard to break Labour's spirit, but with limited success. In spite of the support they find in most of TVM's current discussion programmes and the two breaking stories which separately involve the General Workers' Union secretary general Tony Zarb and deputy leader of the Labour party Toni Abela were leaked to undermine Labour's credibility.

But there is nothing to indicate that such stories are leaving any spectacular changes in the polls.

Then what do we expect for the next weeks?

In the first part of the campaign we were overwhelmed by the proposals from all three parties, but in the second phase one of the campaign should expect less of a civilised campaign and more of a negative campaign.

Such campaigning is symptomatic of panic. 

There are also signs of lack of coordination in the PN campaign and less of a central control of what is happening.

If the PN want to regain any ground they must focus on their 'administrative' achievements and on those candidates that offer the electorate a picture of change. 

19 days are a long time, but all political parties are aware that their ammunition is running out and that the last lap for convincing the last segment of undecided voters or the floating vote is the most difficult.

At MaltaToday we hope to publicise and analyse their political messages, their rhetoric, their arguments and their accusations. We believe our readers to be mature and discerning. The choice is in your hands.

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