Labour Leader and Prime Minister Robert Abela is at the forefront of political parties breaking electoral law by defying the ‘day of reflection’ that is intended to stem political propaganda in the hours before people are to cast their vote in tomorrow’s general elections.
Despite the electoral law stating that political communications are forbidden on both election day and before election day, Facebook and Google ads are still carrying ads from both political parties on the eve of the election. Meanwhile, the independent media is muzzled.
A cursory analysis carried out by The Shift today, which follows up on our more in-depth analysis of the amount of billboards and streamers in major roads in Malta as well as an examination of parties’ overall spending on digital marketing, reveals how both PL and PN have breached Article 114 of Malta’s electoral laws.
As for PL, the party’s official Facebook page lists sponsored posts that have not been discontinued – one features a video of the prime minister’s wife, Lydia Abela, and the other features a video that lumps figures from PN’s past and present as ‘the same clique’.
The PN is leaning heavily on sponsored Facebook ads which are still being promoted through their official page, with sponsored posts mainly referring viewers to their meet-the-candidates style production, Ħerġin.
Given that Google’s Transparency Report data is not comprehensive, The Shift is not in a position to immediately analyse the more recent data-sets pertaining to this week’s advertising. However, as seen in this article’s featured photo and in other screenshots obtained by The Shift, propaganda ads from the Labour party are still visible on Youtube and other channels, clearly showing they have not been discontinued.
Meanwhile, individual candidates from both parties have evidently failed to consider or otherwise ignored their legal obligation to not spread digital propaganda material on the eve of the election.
The same analysis by The Shift revealed that, according to Facebook’s data on political ads that are active and ongoing, at least 13 candidates from PL and the same number from PN are also in breach given that their sponsored posts have not been terminated.
In particular, four PL candidates were observed to have multiple sponsored posts still active, such as PL candidate Jean Claude Micallef, Aaron Farrugia, Andy Ellul, Jonathan Attard, Malcolm Paul Agius Galea, Silvio Schembri, Chris Bonett, Oliver Scicluna and ‘Perit Audrey‘.
Fellow PL candidate Audrey Demicoli, of ‘traffic is a perception’ fame, was also spotted sponsoring her posts in Maltese as images rather than as text-based posts, making them harder to detect in searches.
Ongoing ads from the PN include Opposition Leader Bernard Grech, Chris Said, Errol Cutajar, Ian Vassallo Hagi, Jason Azzopardi, Leone Sciberras, Rebekah Cilia, Frederick Aquilina, Alex Mangion and Toni Bezzina.