Election Playbook: Living la Villa Loca

Robert Abela and Bernard Grech seem to be living the good life in sanctioned villas, while many others were stuck in gridlock traffic – this is how Day 22 of the election played out 

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Cheque this out: The Labour government’s €100 and €200 cheques are being sent out to people’s inboxes together with the €60 and €140 tax refund cheques. This financial scheme was announced last February, before the election was announced, but its timing has still raised eyebrows. An added €200 in the bank is certainly welcome in this economy, but attempts to buy votes through electoral handouts are far less welcome. The initiative has also been weaponised by the Labour Party, more so after the PN made no mention of the tax refund cheques in their manifesto. The party line is this: if you vote PN, the next cheque in your inbox might be the last.  

Living la Villa Loca: When they’re not hitting out at each other in a battle of wits, Robert Abela and Bernard Grech seem to have a lot in common. Both are lawyers, both were thrown head-first into the political arena when elected to lead their respective parties. It now seems that they have another thing in common, namely that the two had regularised changes to their respective villas. In Grech’s case, he applied to sanction several changes carried out without a planning permit a year and a half before being elected PN leader. On Abela’s part, the PA regularised certain illegalities in his ODZ villa merely three months before he purchased it for €600,000. The catch is that he was the PA's chief legal adviser at the time. 

Speaking to SMEs: Robert Abela and Bernard Grech made their case to members of the Malta Chamber of SMEs on Monday in a pre-election debate. The two gave lengthy opening statements, listing their respective manifesto pledges to ease business for small and medium enterprises. But the gloves came off when the two started taking questions from the audience. Abela hit out at Grech over costings, Grech accused Abela of failing to create new economic sectors. Members of the business lobby asked about third-country nationals, banking problems, and the possibility for more free trade zones.  

Traffic trams: Many were stuck in traffic gridlock on Monday morning after Regional Road had to be closed to traffic due to a car accident. It took hours for police to clear the debris, leaving commuters frustrated in standstill traffic for hours on end. This is a good opportunity to reflect on the two mass-transit proposals being put forward by the PL and PN. How would a trackless tram navigate through traffic when such car accidents happen? Metro stations would be sparsely placed – would they be enough to alleviate traffic in key areas? 

There is power in a union: Workers of the world unite! - so long as it doesn’t pose logistical issues for your boss. During a chat with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana conceded that forced trade union membership could pose logistical issues for stakeholders involved in the process. In its electoral manifesto, the Labour Party says that in principle, it is in favour of making union membership mandatory and will kick off a discussion process with the social partners. The party has long toyed with the idea of making union membership compulsory. Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had said during his budget speech in 2018 that compulsory union membership deserves a proper discussion, and months later Edward Zammit Lewis, who was Equality Minister at the time, said that the possibility was being studied by government.  

Watch the Chamber of Commerce debate here!

Election 2022: The Malta Chamber Debates

Topic: Human Capital and Education

Posted by MaltaToday on Monday, March 14, 2022

Cassola left out of TV debate: Independent candidate Arnold Cassola was scheduled to feature on a TV programme on F-Living for a debate with Minister Roderick Galdes and PN candidate Ivan Castillo. However, it seems that Cassola was informed that he will be excluded from the debate a day before the scheduled interview. Cassola deemed this to be blackmail, accusing the Nationalist and Labour Party of being scared to debate him in an open and public manner. He added that F-Living is a private TV station, which only adds insult to injury.  

Left in the dark: The Nationalist Party had a technical issue at their political activity in Siggiewi on Monday evening. Perit Julian Borg was mid-way through his speech, ironically on the PN's flagship tram proposal, when the lights suddenly went out under the tent. The audience was quite literally left in the dark for almost half an hour, but the PN sorted the problem out and put the event back on in time for Bernard Grech to make his speech. 

@malta.today Lights go out during PN event in Siggiewi as Perit Julian Borg was delivering his speech 😳💡#pn #maltatiktok #generalelection ♬ original sound - MaltaToday

What’s happening today?: Robert Abela will be addressing a political activity in Ħamrun at 6:30pm. Bernard Grech will be at a Nationalist Party event in Mtarfa at 5:45pm.