Muscat plays the Schulz card for MEP elections

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says that the national strategy of European Parliament president hopeful Martin Schulz is reason enough for Maltese to vote for Labour candidates at MEP elections.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning told party followers that it was their duty to go out and vote in the upcoming MEP elections and, unsurprisingly, urged them to vote for candidates contesting the election on a Labour ticket.

Muscat was speaking a Labour event in Mosta in which he began by telling the crowd that the most important thing was to vote for the best candidates “irrespective of the party they derived from”.

The tone would soon change, though, with Muscat listing all of government’s achievements over the past year as reasons to support the Labour party and its candidates come election time. These included reducing the national deficit, lowering income tax, increasing health services and the number of free medicines, as well as the reduction of MEPA tariffs by half.

Muscat also outlined government’s part in lowering the price of petrol and locking the price of diesel for the remainder of the year, the introduction of free childcare, and the increase in stipends for students.

This tactic of using past achievements to gain political points is one which has become all-too-familiar during this year’s MEP campaign, with little or no reference being made to the MEP candidates themselves or to what they could bring to the European Parliament if elected.

Muscat, however, used yesterday’s visit of EP president candidate Martin Schulz to Malta to outline reasons as to why the Maltese will be better off voting for Labour. Muscat said that Schulz’s plan to implement an EU national and cross-border strategy on migration, for instance, would help alleviate the problems Malta was facing with regard to irregular immigration.

“At last, we have someone who shares our idea that we need a concrete plan on migration,” he said. “We want to make sure that there are no more migration-related deaths in the Mediterranean.”

“Schulz knows Malta and he wants the best for it,” Muscat said. “He speaks our language.”

“And if he gets elected, he would be pushing for a common policy on migration,” he said. “This way, immigrants coming here will be doing so legally.”

“For the first time, we will have a legal system whereby these people will apply for access to the EU… the burden will then be shared by all the member states and not by Malta only.”

Muscat explained, however, that Schulz could only get elected if he earned a majority of votes. Therefore, electing Maltese MEPs to the European Socialist party – the party which Schulz himself is representing at the president elections – was essential.

“Those of you who are worried that the EU has done nothing on immigration will be able to speak up in a fortnight’s time,” he said. “By staying home and not voting, you would be telling the EU to continue doing as it has been doing this whole time.”

“This election is about something which affects us greatly,” he said. “And this is why I urge you to go out and vote for all the Labour candidates and help make Malta one with a positive energy,” he said, in a reference to Labour’s campaign slogan.

Muscat said that government’s work would not end after the election. He said that already a third of government’s electoral promises had been implemented and stressed that government had not broken or back-tracked on any of these promises.

“This government hit the ground running within its first week and it will only continue to pick up the pace,” he said. “Our aim is to make Malta the envy of all of Europe.”

He admitted that mistakes have occurred during government’s first year and could not promise that others will not follow as “no one is perfect”.

 “What I can say is that this movement is here to stay,” he said.

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