These past weeks and months we have been seeing signs of fissures developing in the Labour Party, the one that had triumphed so massively in two successive general elections.
Maybe what happened is only normal. Elections see people expressing their hopes and fears through their vote and people and circumstances change over time. A leader worth his salt always tries to hold the election at a time when support is at a peak.
But that is not always possible.
We have recently seen the Labour administration submerged in innumerable scandals that day after day involve people at the top of the administration.
More than that, some key targets have become unhinged: the hospitals saga has put paid to any claim this was a very important reform; the national airline is going to fold up; and what had been claimed to be a thorough reform of energy procurement turned out to be a fake squib masked from public anger only by the much-derided helpline from Sicily – the interconnector – part of the heritage left behind by the Nationalist administration.
So three key programmes have belly-flopped.
The government continues to boast that there is a record number of people at work and a record number of people out of work.
This is true but then there are other records to take into consideration – such as the facts that just under 50,000 people are materially and socially deprived and 25,000 are severely deprived according to EU figures.
In March, food prices rose by 12.9% – double the annual rate of inflation, which was 7.1% in March.
In 2022 Malta had the fourth-highest deficit among EU Member States, according to Eurostat. The government deficit was €981 million while debt reached €9,003 million.
According to The Shift, public debt has been increasing by a staggering €3 million a day since Robert Abela has been at the helm. When Joseph Muscat was forced out of office, public debt stood at just €5.7 billion. The Nationalist administration had left it at €4.8 billion.
Now that the pandemic is over, the EU will once again put countries with an annual deficit of over 3% of gross domestic product into an Excessive Deficit Procedure. Remember the gloating when Malta slipped into EDP at the tail-end of the Nationalist administration?
The government will be forced to rein in its profligate spending about which we hear new examples every day. Those who have not been among the recipients of this largesse are already on the warpath.
We are already seeing fissures developing. The abrupt resignation of the courageous mayor of Xaghra took place in the same week that the equally courageous mayor of Gzira was successful in repelling a government-backed application to take a big slice of that locality’s meagre open space to accommodate a petrol station.
There have been similar falling outs in the blogosphere, where longstanding Labour writers have been expressing their disillusionment.
The only defence, such as it is, of the government is only coming from the usual sources – Karl Stagno Navarra, Manwel Cuschieri and One News. It may persuade people who listen to only One News, but will it fill the square on 1 May like it did on that extraordinary day when Joseph Muscat announced an election?
What will happen now? Will these disappointed mayors just lick their wounds and retire from the scene? Knowing them, I am certain they will not be bought out by some backhand gift.
This is a unique opportunity to redraw Malta’s political map. Given that these persons will not consider crossing over to the other side, there is still space for the disgruntled to come together as a group distinct from the official Labour Party at the coming European Parliament and the local council elections.
They might make the difference.
Hopefully, there will be my Independent Candidate for the MEP elections for whom I will vote.
If there is one person who fills the blanks for the unmovable orphaned voters in both camps, it is surely the one and only ‘Arnold Cassola’.
I back your approval of Arnold Cassola who has campaigned hard on environmental issues as well as censoring ceaselessly the Govt for the daily scandals, flagrant and unnecessary spending, stupid mistakes, gross inefficiency and what have you, which this ‘Mickey Mouse’ Govt is well known for.
Arnold Cassola is man for all seasons, as straight as a ramrod and as persistent as a martinet, insomma, an asset for Malta.
Disclaimer, I have never met Arnold but follow his posts on FB.