Local councils elections: Grech urges 'unity and respect' as PN reduces Labour's lead by 27,000

The PN has gained 6 new local councils and lost one, and now controls 24 local councils with additional relative majorities in Birkirkara and Mellieha in last week's elections

PN leader Bernard Grech and the elected PN councillors
PN leader Bernard Grech and the elected PN councillors

Bernard Grech stressed the importance of unity and respect amongst the Maltese on Saturday, as he announced that the gap between the Partit Nazzjonalista (PN) and Malta Labour Party votes had been slashed by half - a shift of 26,861 votes.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday morning, PN leader Bernard Grech said that he was determined to build a new national PN majority, continuing the trend which he said ,clearly emerges from the results of last week’s European Parliamentary and Local Council elections.

“The PN has gained 6 new local councils and lost one, and now has 24 local councils in its hands,” Grech said. Adding Birkirkara and Mellieha, where the PN won the majority of votes, but not of seats, would increase the number of PN councils to 8, he said, “a majority in 26 councils.”

Labour lost 9 of the local councils it previously controlled and had gained one, Grech said.

PN reduced the gap between the parties by 26,861 votes, added the PN leader. The difference between the two major parties now stands at 20,155, he said, adding that Labour’s lead had been slashed in half : from 18.1% to 7.8%  - a decrease of 10.3%, and its total number of votes had been reduced by 52%.

20 local council seats had been gained by the PN, reducing the gap to 27 seats. Grech said that this figure was yet to be broadcast on the national TV station, “because they are still trying to hide it.”

He reeled off a list of localities where the PN now held a majority of local council seats:  St Paul's Bay, Fontana, San Gwann, Siggiewi, Mosta, Zebbug in Gozo and for the first time in 21 years -Msida, amongst them. The party now also holds a relative majority - meaning it received the most votes but still less than 50%, in Birkirkara and Mellieha, added Grech. This was due to the election of independent candidates in those localities.

An increase in PN seats had also been recorded, he said, in the Birzebbugia, Hamrun, Lija, Qrendi, Munxar, Xewkija, Zurrieq, St. Paul’s Bay, Xaghara and San Gwann councils.

“Even with respect to these, PBS, which is run on your taxes, isn’t giving you this information.” he said.

The PN had lost a total of 5 seats in three localities, he said. Bormla, Ghasri and Kirkop, but now has a majority representation in 24 local councils, when compared to the 19 it controlled in 2010. 

Labour had lost its majority in 8 councils in the same period of time and had lost seats in many other councils, Grech said.“It is clear that the PN is succeeding in bringing back votes it had lost to Labour. The people are recognising that the PN can be an alternative government to get Malta out of the problems the Labour government had put it in.”

The results of the European Parliament and Local Councils elections had sent a clear message, Grech said. “Our priority remains one: you. The people.” Grech said, promising that the PN would now start working on implementing the plans it had already drawn up for every locality in Malta. 

When asked by a reporter whether he felt that the PN was now ready to govern Malta, Grech  replied in the affirmative.

He stressed the importance of unity and respect both amongst the Nationalist party and amongst the wider electorate. It was important to recognise each other’s humanity, Grech said. 

“Even those of you who do not see the PN as an alternative government, I want to work with you too to find a way forward. You can disagree with us, but you can still work with us,” he said, borrowing former Labour Prime Minister’s Joseph Muscat’s catchphrase.

Many of those who had not voted had taken heart after seeing Labour’s lead in the polls so drastically reduced, he said.

Grech ended the press conference with an Obama-esque soundbite set to rousing music. “Everyone has value. You have a value. You made choices for the country and gave a new hope to the people. You can also give new hope in the general elections. Let us work together. The country is waiting for you.”