[WATCH] Muscat’s ratings give him political strength to sack corrupt politicians, MEP candidate insists

This is the perfect moment for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to remove corrupt politicians surrounding him, PN MEP candidate Michael Briguglio said as he discussed the upcoming MEP elections with Labour candidate Josef Caruana

PN MEP candidate Michael Briguglio
PN MEP candidate Michael Briguglio

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s popularity among voters should give him the political strength to remove any corrupt politicians in his midst, according to PN MEP candidate Michael Briguglio.

He was speaking on current affairs programme Xtra, hosted by Saviour Balzan, together with former l-Orizzont editor and Labour MEP candidate Josef Caruana.

Discussing revelations surrounding the Dubai company 17 Black, and its links to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism minister Konrad Mizzi, Briguglio said he agreed with PN leader Adrian Delia in saying that rather than speculating he would prefer to know all the facts.

Caruana on the other hand said he would follow his leader’s reasoning and will await results from ongoing investigations.

“Joseph Muscat has always been consistent,” Caruana said. “His credibility was shown in the Egrant inquiry and will once again be shown when the 17 Black investigations are over.”

Caruana said that ultimately, politics always boiled down to credibility, which, he said, was why Muscat enjoyed the trust of such a high proportion of the population.

“This government has been the most transparent government the country has ever had,” he insisted, adding that “all ethical guidelines have been abided by”.

Asked by Balzan whether the Prime Minister was riding the wave, and refusing to remove Schembri and Mizzi because he was still popular with voters, Briguglio agreed.

“Muscat is a very good communicator, if not the best communicator we have ever had in Maltese politics,” the former AD chairperson explained.

“I feel that this is the opportune moment for Muscat to remove the corrupt in his midst, as his survey ratings give him a lot of leg room to do so.”

PL-PN hegemony

The discussion then turned to the two main political parties’ dominance over the Maltese political landscape, with Briguglio saying that an “unfortunate situation” had developed that was seeing small pressure groups realising that it is more effective to lobby the big parties.

This, he said, often meant that they are able to bring their message across more effectively.

Josef Caruana (right)
Josef Caruana (right)

“Look at the LGBTIQ+ community, lobbying and choosing to use the Labour Party as their platform helped their message to be successful,” he said

At the end of the day, voters choose to elect one of the two big parties, Briguglio said.

The two candidates were also asked whether they expected a protest vote from the electorate in the coming MEP and local council elections, as had happened in the past.

Caruana said he did not believe this would be the case, but people had had enough of MEPs working against the country’s interests.

“The PN will realise that working against your own country doesn’t get you anywhere,” he said.

Briguglio on the other hand said he could see there being a protest vote, because despite the economy doing well, the government was not doing enough to address certain bread and butter issues like the high cost of renting accommodation. 

“You can love Joseph Muscat and you can love the Labour Party, but at the end of the day when you are evicted out of your home what matters are you and your family,” Briguglio said.

‘Opposition acting like the boy who cried wolf’

Environment minister Jose Herrera, who was the guest in the second part of the programme, said that much like the story of the boy who cried wolf, the PN was becoming less credible.

Reacting to comments by the PN’s environment spokesperson Jason Azzopardi, Herrera said that the fact that Azzopardi and the PN criticised every government initiative was making their message less effective and more unclear.

Asked about the government’s new waste separation scheme, Herrera conceded that the country was far from reaching its European target of having 65% of all household waste being recycled by 2035.

Environment Minister Jose Herrera
Environment Minister Jose Herrera

“It has been a difficult challenge as we are finally starting to implement changes after years of shelved policies,” he said.

Reacting to criticism that the organic waste bins distributed in Maltese households were too small, the minister said that had the bins been bigger “they would have criticised us for making them too big”.

Herrera was then asked whether the Maghtab landfill posed by imminent danger to the population, as a result of methane gas being emitted by decomposing organic matter, to which he replied in the negative. 

In this regard, he said there were two options that could be explored. The first, he said, was mining, which involves digging into the landfill and extracting the gas build-up inside. He said this was however deemed too dangerous due to the combustible nature of the gas.

The second option involves allowing the gas to slowly escape in a similar way to what had been done with other landfills.

Asked about statements he has made in the past, suggesting that the Environment and Resources Authority should have the power to veto ODZ developments, Herrera said he was simply recommending that there be a level playing field. “Reports from both ERA and the PA should be available for review.”  

More in Xtra