‘Labour government will not run roughshod over Opposition’ – Muscat

Labour leader Joseph Muscat insists Labour will not run roughshod over opposition despite strong seat advantage but will work towards national unity

Triumphant Labour leader Joseph Muscat speaking minutes after the confirmation that Labour had won the 2013 general election with a landslide result.
Triumphant Labour leader Joseph Muscat speaking minutes after the confirmation that Labour had won the 2013 general election with a landslide result.

Prime Minister Elect and Labour leader Joseph Muscat's first official reaction to the 2013 election result, which saw labour winning by a landslide over the incumbent Nationalist Party, was to describe the result as one possible only for a movement.

Muscat was speaking minutes after the electoral result was announced, which saw Labour securing 55% of the vote compared to the Nationalist Party's 42%  resulting in a 12% vote lead for Labour, or 33,000 votes.

"This result could not have been obtained by the Labour Party alone, or any single political party. It is the result of a movement. We campaigned as a movement, and we will govern as a movement."

Muscat also said thata  new Labour government's first priority remains the development of a new energy plant, and reconvening parliament as soon as possible so that Malta's 2013 budget passes.

The labour leader however said that despite having a seven-seat majority, a new Labour government "will not try to run roughshod over the opposition" and insisted that "we will try to work with the opposition and with whomever who wants to work with us."

Muscat also saluted outgoing Prime Minister and Nationalist leader Lawrence Gonzi.

"Obviously we didn't agree on many things over the past five years, but I can say we built a good personal relationship. I salute him for the work he did for our country. I think he served the country well, even if I don't agree with him.

He said that the country is now facing two new deadlines: the first is the election of a new Nationalist Party leader and by default the Leader of the Opposition, while the second is the constitutional deadline by which the government can approve the budget which did not pass through parliament last November.

"We will be consulting with the Opposition to ensure that the budget passes without controversies. The only change we will be making is regarding the tax on minimum wage, and we will be passing it as soon as possible."

Asked whether he already had in mind certain ministerial appointments, Muscat admitted that he already has several individuals in mind, but insisted it was too early to discuss appointments.

"First we must how parliament will be composed. There are new dynamics which in Malta's post-independent history were not seen in any parliament," Muscat said, noting Labour's strong seat advantage.

He also noted that it remains to be seen how it could be constitutionally changed, given that the Opposition's seat allocation might be increased to ensure district proportionality.

"There is also the issue of EU meetings which we will be preparing for in the coming days," he said, adding that Labour will be preparing for next week's EU summit, as well as the 2017 EU presidency,

"This is no joke," Muscat said, adding that he looks forward to "everyone playing their part in this."

 

He said that the only appointment that he can announce at this juncture is that of PL deputy leader Louis Grech as deputy Prime Minister with part of his portfolio being the implementation of Labour's electoral programme.

Asked to comment about Labour's landslide victory, Muscat said that "the people chose to discard the politics of the past. I think that is the message they wished to send. We are careful to keep that in mind.

"Our approach will not be to simply bring down the blue flag and put up a red one. It is essential that even with such a big majority, we work towards national unity."

Asked about whether Labour risks becoming complacent with its solid parliamentary seat majority, Muscat said that the troubles experienced by the outgoing administration and despite how it had only a one seat majority it still became detached from the public "will remain an example in our minds."

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