Abela tells MCAST students 16-year-olds should be able to contest general election

The Prime Minister says he believes students should enagage in employment whilst studying

Prime Minister Robert Abela at the Paola MCAST (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Prime Minister Robert Abela at the Paola MCAST (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Prime Minister Robert Abela said he wants to see electoral reform so that those aged 16 and over would be eligible for candidacy in local and general elections. 

Abela said this during a visit to the MCAST campus in Paola on Friday afternoon, where he was greeted with loud applause and the infamous "Viva l-Labour" chants. 

Asked whether it was ever in his plans to become Prime Minister, Abela did not shy away from his ambitions, saying he always wanted to advance in his political career. "I contested the general election for the first time in 2017. What happened in 2019, led to my decision to contest the leadership of the Labour Party," Abela said.

"The choice me and Mr Fearne had, was to build on what had been done right and implement changes wherever necessary. Everyone in the party was aware that certain changes had to be made."

Abela spoke of the pandemic and said he never imagined that during the recovery period, a war would break out. "No one from the 27 EU member states believed it would happen. We were all proven wrong."

Addressing the students, Abela said he believed students should also work whilst studying. "We want students to be active in a working world from a young age. That’s what I did when I was a student. We want to award hard work and that is why the maximum amount of working hours, one could work whilst receiving a stipend, has been extended to 30 hours."

Whilst answering questions from students, the PM said he believed that those aged 16 and over should contest the local and general elections. "If you can vote you can also occupy the role."

Faced with a question on whether a reform was due on ‘fake news’ and party owned TV stations, Abela said, "my message is clear - fake news has no place in society and I insist that news delivered by party stations, should be fact based."

Abela promised the government would be implementing anti-SLAPP laws, to protect journalists and journalism from "vicious" attacks.