Election Playbook: The birds and the sleaze

On the 25th day of the election my minister gave to me, two turtle doves and bird hunting for 13 days in spring

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Survey-watch: A small update from our rolling survey. The Labour Party is 26,424 votes ahead of the Nationalist Party after widening its lead throughout the week. Support for the PL runs at 53.5 while that of the PN stands at 44.7%. Interestingly, the PL’s standing increased by 0.4 percentage points, and the PN’s declined by the same amount. Third parties collectively registered 2.1% of the vote. So far, the share of valid votes stands at 86.7%. No change was recorded in the trust ratings of both leaders. 

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Newsroom Ep. 20

Opinionist Jeremy Camilleri is our special guest at the MaltaToday Newsroom. Subject? Elections of course!

Posted by MaltaToday on Thursday, March 17, 2022

Flipping the bird: Thursday was somewhat dominated by news of the Ornis committee’s decision to lift a moratorium on turtle dove hunting for the spring. For context, Ornis advises the minister responsible for bird hunting on issues of conservation and bird hunting seasons. The moratorium was introduced in 2017 after the turtledove was classified internationally as a vulnerable species. The issue here is the timing of the decision, on the eve of an election and after two Labour ministers – one responsible for hunting and the other for the environment – were officially endorsed by hunting lobby FKNK. The lobby maintains that the committee was scheduled to decide on the issue last month, but BirdLife Malta noted how the government passed a legal notice hours before the committee meeting on the transfer of stuffed birds. 

Cassola calls it corruption: Independent candidate Arnold Cassola filed an official report to the OSCE and Malta’s Electoral Commission alleging corrupt practices over Robert Abela’s distribution of COVID-relief cheques and tax cuts. The Prime Minister committed to the stimulus cheques last February, but many have criticised the decision to distribute the cheque merely two weeks before the general election. The complaint was filed against Robert Abela and Clyde Caruana, as PM and finance minister respectively, for distributing “millions in cash as COVID stimulus to Maltese voters”. Cassola argued that the two are part of a caretaker government, and as such have no right to be disbursing such monies during an election in which they are candidates. It’s now up to the Electoral Commission to decide on the complaint. 

Electric feel: During a Chamber of Commerce debate on Energy and Infrastructure, Minister Miriam Dalli said that government aims to generate a minimum 50 Megawatts from offshore wind farms or 65MW from offshore solar plants by 2030. She added that Malta will be able to diversify its energy mix while still buying electricity from LNG imports of Electrogas, the owners of the Delimara gas plant. However, she evaded the elephant in the room, namely Enemalta’s relationship with Electrogas, whose shareholder Yorgen Fenech stands accused of masterminding the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. PN energy spokesperson Ryan Callus accused Labour of paying Electrogas an extra €10 million for its LNG, irrespective of whether it would be cheaper to source it through the Malta-Sicily subsea cable. 

Growing and spending: Our chief political analyst James Debono took a look at the two big parties’ election manifestos to identify where exactly they converge and diverge. Both parties want to increase public spending on goodies like free holidays and laptops, but the PN is making most of its fiscal incentives conditional on adherence to Environmental Social Governance criteria. Labour appears more open to debating controversial issues like euthanasia, but appears dangerously keen on land reclamation. PN is keener on addressing corruption, yet both parties conveniently left out major reforms like that of party financing. Read the full analysis here

What's happening today?: Robert Abela will be in Fgura at 6:30pm for a political activity, and will later head to Qormi at 8pm for a rally. Bernard Grech will be in Ħal Safi at 5:30pm, and will then make an appearance at a Meet the Candidates event in Attard at 6pm. Cassola will be visiting Junior College and meeting students at 10am.