Election Playbook: It’s a kind of trackless tram magic

Tonight is the night, when two car lanes become one... or three? Here’s what Day 26 of the election campaign looked like

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2 become 1: There seems to be a bit of confusion over how the PN’s trackless tram proposal will play out. This week PN candidate Ryan Callus said that the tram would run on arterial and distributor roads with a dedicated lane. But on Friday his colleague Toni Bezzina, the PN’s transport spokesperson, told a press conference that the party’s plans would not occupy any existing lanes. It’s hard to say which version is the truth. Will two lanes turn into one to make space for the tram? Will a third tram-only lane be added to major roads? 

Passing the buck: Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia distanced himself from the government decision to lift the spring hunting moratorium on turtle doves. He said the decision was taken after government consulted the relevant studies, but then immediately stated that “the responsible minister” will speak on the issue, not him. Indeed, hunting regulation falls within the portfolio of Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri rather than the environment ministry. But Farrugia still insisted that the Labour Party, if elected to government, will fight all the way in Brussels to retain the tradition in Malta. 

Knee-In Borg: Ian Borg had to take a two-day hiatus from the campaign trail to seek treatment on his rare knee condition. Borg apparently suffers from pigmented villonodular synovitis, a disease that causes the tissue lining one's joint to grow abnormally. His condition forced him to travel to an orthopaedic hospital in London to treat the condition, and he will have to undergo two surgeries in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Borg said that he will still be able to work, but must not overdo it.  

Ħbieb, Kif għidtilkom ġejt Londra nitkellem mat-tobba li qed isegwuni. Hemm diversi modi kif il-kundizzjoni tiġi...

Posted by Ian Borg on Thursday, March 17, 2022

House of cards: Housing Minister Roderick Galdes stood by his practice of personally ringing up constituents applying for social housing to inform them of the verdict. He insisted that it is not only his right but his duty to personally help his constituents, and this practice does not cross any ethical lines. The latter part is certainly up for debate, especially with a background discussion taking place on what constitutes corrupt practice during an election campaign. But it’s worth noting that Galdes would deliver the news before the Housing Authority would. Where does one draw the line between helping constituents and doing favours for votes? 

Hang the cost: Bernard Grech insisted that the Nationalist Party will publish its manifesto costings when the time is right, without giving into pressure by the Labour Party to publish the information. This is nothing new – Grech has been promising to publish the costings for weeks now. But what’s in a costing? Grech pointed out that the Labour Party simply put a €3.3 billion price tag on its manifesto, and not a comprehensive breakdown. He is right to a certain extent. We know the cost of some measures, but many of Labour’s 1,000 proposals show no costings either.  

Soft subjects: A chorus of university lecturers called out Malta’s employers group, the MEA, over an election request to push students into science and out of so-called ‘soft options’, namely arts and humanities. The MEA want post-secondary and tertiary education students to be encouraged to take up STEM subjects and to be “weaned off” the softer options to address the lack of female graduates in science and tech. This proposal was immediately rubbished by University of Malta pro rector Prof Carmen Sammut, followed by several other academics. The Chamber of Commerce, while separate from the MEA, wanted to make it known that it is a keen promoter of both humanities and STEM subjects, and is against siloed approaches to education. 

What’s happening today?: The Nationalist Party will be holding a fundraising marathon from 2pm onwards and will then be at Dar Ċentrali for a political activity. The Labour Party will be holding an interview with Robert Abela at the Orpheum Theatre in Gżira at 6:30pm. Independent candidate Arnold Cassola will be on Campus FM at 10am and will be holding a press conference at Castille at noon. ADPD will be holding a press conference at 1:30pm opposite Parliament.