Election Playbook: Leaders fret over undecided voters

Konrad Mizzi finds God while we find a cute dog at a party rally, this is what Day 15 of the election campaign looked like 

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Vote gap: Labour’s still ahead by 27,000 votes, and Robert Abela enjoys a 43.2% trust rating over Bernard Grech, who trails behind at 29.9%. In fact, the Labour leader is trusted more than the Nationalist leader across all age groups, among men and women, and in all regions bar one. Might be worth noticing that Abela is trusted by men more than he is by women, while Grech is more equally liked between the two groups. 

The debates are on: Robert Abela and Bernard Grech will be going head-to-head in at least four debates during the election campaign. These include a University debate, a state-broadcasted session, and two other debates organised by the Malta Chamber and Chamber of SMEs. Here is the full schedule: 

Leaders worried on undecided voters: It seems that both party leaders are worried about the share of undecided voters and predicted low turnout. On Sunday Grech rallied for undecided voters to read the party’s manifesto, saying that their vote was key to a better future for Malta. Abela has been doing the same, urging people to vote on 26 March so that their pledges can become reality. Both are probably right to worry about the protest vote, as MaltaToday is projecting a higher abstention rate than five years ago, and that appears to be impacting the Labour Party more than it is the PN. 

Party pups: Who let the pups out? And more importantly, who let them wear party merch? This one Shiba Inu was snapped at a Labour Party rally with a Malta Flimkien bandana wrapped around its neck. Dogs might not have a vote, but they certainly have a license to look adorable at party rallies. Next up: Nationalist Party dog collars and ADPD-branded chew toys. 

Cassola wins again: The Constitutional Court upheld an appeal filed by independent candidate Arnold Cassola, thus ordering the continuation of a case in which he is challenging the gender quota law for parliament. He doesn’t argue against gender quotas per se, but rather challenges how the mechanism only kicks in if two political parties are represented in parliament. He says it discriminates against women unaffiliated with the two major parties. Between this and his vocal concerns on sexual allegations in government offices, Cassola is becoming the feminist icon this election really needed. 

Right wing parties: A story from the weekend – Malta has a new church party and its full of River-of-love militants and members of the far-right. The party is led by Ivan Grech Mintoff, who led anti-vaxxer protests throughout the pandemic, and includes ex-gay campaigner Matthew Grech. While it’s too late to submit more nominations for the election, I think I know just the right consultant-turned-minister-turned-staunch-catholic that could win the party a few votes next time round (and possibly some added cash from a Panama slush fund...). 

Any new proposals?: The PN reiterated their education pledges, among which include opening a specialised secondary school every year and a 25% increase in maintenance grants for students. Labour pledged to introduce a “right to a company bank account” for businesses and self-employed workers in a bid to soften FATF blowback. 

What’s happening today: The Labour Party is holding an activity in Żabbar at 6:30pm. The Nationalist Party will be in Żebbuġ for an activity at 6pm. Cassola will be meeting Friends of the Earth at 3:45pm.