Immanuel Mifsud: ‘For Maltese voters, emotions trump rationality in elections’

Novelist Immanuel Mifsud joins Xtra panel of pundits Jeremy Camilleri, Tim Diacono and Robert Musumeci

The novelist Immanuel Mifsud has said Maltese voters are only primarily concerned with their self-interest in politics, as Malta heads to the polling stations to vote in six MEPs on Saturday.

“I wouldn’t be surprised by another Labour victory,” Mifsud said on TVM’s Xtra. “Voters tend to prioritise their personal interests when casting their ballots. We often say the public engages in thoughtful reasoning… we say ‘the people have spoken, they endorsed…’ however I believe the majority primarily consider what directly affects them and stop there.”

Speaking on TVM’s Xtra, Mifsud, along with three other panelists, discussed the aftermath of this year’s electoral campaigns, notably focused on the Vitals inquiry, with little attention given to other topics.

Panellist Jeremy Camilleri – who joined Mifsud and Lovin Malta journalist Tim Diacono on a discussion on the European election campaign – said the PN had yet to understand what had led to its electoral loss in 2013. “Since 2013, the Nationalist Party (PN) has been in opposition, yet I feel that the party has failed to ask itself the most basic question: what led to its loss in 2013?”

And journalist Tim Diacono argued that the PN is not totally absent but has somewhat accepted that Labour benefits when its voters perceive the party is under attack, even in cases such as the Vitals PPP corruption allegations. “When the PL is under attack, it is when it gains the most.”

The panel agreed that despite the calls for action to be taken against corruption and voters’ apathy, the electorate seems to be expected another major Labour victory at the upcoming elections, leaving the PN unable to critically examine its string of political losses for the past 15 years.

Pundit Robert Musumeci agreed that even within a climate of perceived corruption, voters were more likely to question whether they were personally worse off even amid the numerous allegations made against the members of the Muscat administration. “Personal interests come first in this country, before any other consideration.

Mifsud said even if you asked voters, ‘What do you think of the corruption?’ they’d respond: ‘We’re good as we are anyway,’ and that’s where the conversation ends.”

Mifsud added that the Maltese public approached politics emotionally rather than rationally, prioritising personal interests over broader considerations. “This is why I have come to accept that, even after all these years, we still lack a third force capable of providing a viable alternative to the major parties,” Mifsud said.

“We previously had a movement that proposed several beneficial political alternatives, but the public did not vote for them. However, when the same proposals were presented by the major parties, they garnered support.”