Election Playbook: University challenged

The political militants were on parade for the first leaders’ debate of the campaign – this is what day 18 of the election season looked like

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University challenged: Party leaders went head-to-head for the first debate of the election campaign at the University of Malta. The debate was dominated by booing, yelling and cheering from the student audience as the leaders went back and forth on several issues. One student yelled at Grech for his tax scandal, another yelled at Abela over Labour’s corruption controversy. Others booed Ivan Grech Mintoff for his conservative views on sexuality. Regardless, the crowd was clearly pro-Labour. When Bernard Grech emerged on stage he was immediately met with a mix of chants, some booing, and people shouting “Viva l-Labour".  

The University General Election Debate 2022

The University General Election Debate 2022

Posted by MUDU - The Malta University Debating Union on Thursday, March 10, 2022

Abort mission: A positive from the debate: abortion is no longer considered taboo during the election. Prime Minister Robert Abela said the public debate on abortion should not be stifled, and he vowed not to kick people out from the Labour Party for expressing pro-abortion views. Carmel Cacopardo echoed this view, although he more clearly stated that abortion should be decriminalised. Grech reiterated that the PN is pro-life, from inception to death, but said that women who want to undergo abortion should be helped. 

An owl in an IVF bush: Bernard Grech had a small slip-up on Wednesday, when he pledged to bring a permanent IVF consultant to Malta. The day after, gynaecologist Mark Sant slammed his comments and said he was dumbfounded with his pledge. He said that Malta has three embryologists, and have had them for three years. On Malta’s wider IVF situation, Sant said he sometimes finds himself telling patients to go abroad for the necessary healthcare. However, he welcomed the Labour Party’s pledge to introduce PGD testing in Malta. 

Facebook kills billboard spending: Billboards and streamers immediately adorned the streets with Abela’s name and the PL slogan when the election date was announced. However, the internet is becoming an important political arena, with parties battling it out online to spread their message. Political advertising spending on Facebook peaked in February, with the Nationalist Party taking the lead. In just one week, the Nationalist Party’s Facebook page spent €18,700 on advertising, and another €14,400 was spent on Bernard Grech’s page.  

Electoral notice: Special voting centres are being set up with the approval of health authorities so that people who are COVID-19 positive or are in mandatory quarantine may vote without safety concerns for themselves and the public. The Electoral Commission will be receiving a list with the details of such persons from the Superintendence of Public Health, starting from 12 March up to 9pm on 25 March. Voters must only cast their vote in the dedicated centre, and not at the polling station listed on their voting document. People on this list may apply to vote one week prior to polling day by sending an email on covid-19.electoral@gov.mt.  

Putting out fire with gasoline: ADPD claimed that Labour Party donors are behind a massive expansion of a petrol station in Marsaskala. Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo questioned to what extent political party donations are affecting administrative decisions like this one. ADPD proposed in their manifesto to limit single donations to political parties to €5,000. The current limit is €25,000. Apart from this, ADPD said that developers were given the go-ahead despite strong objections by residents in 2019.  

Any new proposals?: The day was laregly dominated by the University Debate, with no new proposals emerging. The Nationalist Party reiterated its pledge to drop the corporate tax rate to 25%, from companies as well as individuals. The Labour Party repeated its pledge to allow parents to have a second child through IVF. 

What’s happening today: The Labour Party is holding their general conference in Valletta at 7pm. The Nationalist Party will be in Tarxien for an activity at 6pm.