Marlene Farrugia: ‘I will keep PN government in check’

Bold words from former Labour MP Marlene Farrugia, who says she will demand a national environment policy in a common electoral programme with PN

Marlene Farrugia said coalition talks with the PN were still ongoing
Marlene Farrugia said coalition talks with the PN were still ongoing

Democratic Party leader Marlene Farrugia has said she will keep a PN government in check and make sure that it implements its promises.

Speaking on TVM’s Dissett presented by Reno Bugeja, Farrugia confirmed that coalition talks between her party and the PN were ongoing and that “the deal is yet to be finalised.”

Farrugia said she had consistently defended the country’s interests when asked whether her chequered political career would pose a threat to a future PN government’s stability.

“I can reassure the electorate that if a government does not implement what it promised I will keep it in check… The people demand good governance and stability which leads to an improvement in their quality of life,” she said.

Acknowledging that a government could eventually tweak its policies, Farrugia said: “it’s unacceptable to do the direct opposite of what was promised.”

The former Labour MP has accepted to contest the next election on a PN ticket, which will rent out space on its ballot sheet to Farrugia, who will carry the nickname ‘Tal-Orangjo’ next to her name and other PD candidates.

Farrugia put up a good show and was more than a match for the incisive Bugeja. When asked why she has now decided to form a coalition with a party she harshly criticised, Farrugia acknowledged that the PN still has a “credibility deficit” which can only be undone by the voters.

“Voters should not only vote for Democratic Party candidates but also for PN candidates who offer the kind of politics which the country needs,” she said.

Using a culinary metaphor, Farrugia said: “you can turn eggs into an omelette (froga) but you cannot turn an omelette into eggs. I’ll give you a soundbite. The omelette was voted out by the people and admittedly some of the omelette remains. We are the fresh egg, and other eggs are being brought to the table by new PN candidates. Now, and take it as you like, the people can choose a lot of fresh eggs and a bit of omelette or a lot of omelette and few fresh eggs.”

Quizzed over whether she was ready to compromise on the environment, given that the PN is strongly backing a controversial tunnel between Malta and Gozo, Farrugia said she will be demanding a wide-ranging national policy on the environment.

She added that the coalition was still “budding” and insisted that the parties will be discussing all matters, including a common political platform, thoroughly. 

Insisting that “no contract has been signed” between the two parties, Farrugia dismissed Bugeja’s assertion that her hasty announcement had embarrassed PN leader Simon Busuttil, saying this was “Panama-Labour’s spin.”

Farrugia also defended her poor parliamentary attendance record by saying that her commitment goes beyond the three-hour sessions three times a week. Farrugia was absent for 11 sessions since July 2016, for which she was fined €550, which she said were immediately paid.

Noting that she has previously had attended marathon sessions, Farrugia said: “let’s not fool ourselves, some MPs just go in and out of Parliament. If there’s anyone who has fulfilled all Parliamentary duties it’s me.”

However, she said, if she had to choose between tending for her sick family members or attending Parliament, “I will choose my family.”

After having originally militated in Labour, Marlene Farrugia’s first formal foray in the political scene came in 1996, when she stood as a candidate for the Nationalist Party in the local council elections and was successfully elected, serving as a councillor between 1996 and 1999. She subsequently stood for the 1998 General Elections on the Nationalist Party ticket when she gained 311 first count votes from the fifth electoral district and was not elected. She had also contested the seventh district and obtained a meagre 355 votes.

Farrugia then crossed the Rubicon and contested the 2008 elections on behalf of the Labour Party and was elected from the fifth electoral district with a total of 3,375 first-count votes. She was re-elected from the same electoral district in 2013, garnering 2,525 first-count votes.