The armchair critic | And so, let’s begin.

On a Sunday morning, some of us head to our party of preference’s rally to hear the leader speak. Other common people prefer to contain their concern from the comfort of their own home, on their sofas, chairs, reclining armchairs… this is one of those times. 

Who are we criticising?

Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition Leader Bernard Grech at their respective rallies on the 20th of February.

What do we all know?

We will perform our democratic obligation to vote on the 26th of March 2022. 

Robert Abela under the Marquee 

The introduction and handing over of the stage to the leader of the party in question always seems to be made out as a hyperbole. Nevertheless, it does make things interesting, let us hope there is a climax of some sort. In the audience, there can be seen ‘Robert 2022’ signs held up by some people in the audience- already, an indicator that this is no ordinary gathering. 

The Prime Minister and his wife, lawyer and philanthropist Lydia Abela walk onto the stage. He starts with a simple statement ‘Malta, the future is bright’. From the Prime Minister’s first few sentences, it looks like he is not beating around the bush about the possibility of an upcoming general election. The Prime Minister goes on to speak about all the aspiring citizens and people he has come across which empower him to improve everything which makes Malta better. Given Abela’s pro-business streak manifests in his speech too, which is arguably subject to many of the leader’s criticisms. And yet, the citizens are the most awarded and imperative contributing factors, regardless of their political footprint, in Abela’s books. Abela makes it a point to sing his administration’s praises on the conduct and handling of the repercussions of the global COVID-19 Pandemic.  

Brownie points for acknowledging his administration’s mistakes, however he still maintains that the interest for every decision made was in the interest of the people. And now a list of all the good things which boast the Labour Government’s portfolio and an account of the investment injected into everything carried out by the administration. So far, these self-praises are all leading to one thing — an announcement of some sorts? Oh, an explanation of the important pillars which make up the ambition for Malta in the next few years. The Prime Minister makes it a point to demonstrate both his pride as a father and as a Maltese citizen. 

And here we go, the Prime Minister is laying out our choices and why the Labour Party movement is the better choice — on a higher pitch and emphasis than before. The way this speech is advancing, the pressure is very obvious. This may be taking too long to announce but, it is a speech after all. 

Now, we might just get a number- and the Prime Minister knows the eagerness of people wanting to know when. He imposes a rhetorical question on the audience on national interest, in that his mission in January 2020 was to bring back political stability (despite being welcomed into office with a baptism of fire). An imperative point, Robert Abela’s talks of the success of the vaccination programme will not fall on deaf ears during the upcoming campaign.  

Here we go, Spring 2022 — but when? Spring could not be a better time to start a new administration, immaterial of the party heading it. It’s the time for change, new beginnings, and growth finally blooming. Symbolistic? Maybe. Let’s hear it now, we need the date. 

And there we have it. We head out to carry out our duty to vote on the 26th of March 2022. The audience cheers and chants, their eyes glistening up with hope and excitement. We have a slogan for this electoral campaign ‘Malta, together’. And now that we have it — let’s rank this. 

Policy Mentions: 

Most interesting: Affordable and better schemes for potential and new parents. 

On everyone’s minds: Good governance, the cost of living, the environment (particularly open spaces) 

Needs further explanation: Economic Growth 

The Good: 

What was refreshing about Abela’s speech was his acknowledgement of every citizen in Malta, immaterial of their political ideology, in the progress of shaping a better Malta — a well-deserved acknowledgement for everyone. His optimism. Making his priorities for the next 5 years clear and cohesive. 

Room for improvement:

What Abela needs to also prioritize is not only national issues but shaping Malta’s international reputation. The style and delivery of Abela’s speeches have drastically improved, and it shall be interesting to see how they will further progress during the course of this campaign. Abela needs to show strength in admitting that mistakes were made, as he admitted, but he is willing to learn and be taught how to improve.

Verdict: 

Ambition: 8

Optimism: 10

Energy: 9

Style and Delivery: 8

Pragmatic: 8

Bernard Grech outside the headquarters

And now, we go to a live stream from the heart of Pieta. Wrapped by an audience of hopeful and ambitious Nationalist Party voters, Bernard Grech, leader of the Opposition, and his wife Anne Marie Grech, make their way on the stage for the leader of the Opposition to pitch his promise to the electorate. 

The stage seems a little cramped, but has a presence of standing young people — possibly an aim to promote the 16-year olds eligible to vote in the upcoming election?  Bernard Grech makes his way to the stage and launches the electoral campaign of the Nationalist Party. He claims that the campaign is testament to how ready the Nationalist Party is for the upcoming election and how the campaign has been in the works for ages and is ready to let it flourish. He further claims that among the audience, are Labour Party supporters who have crossed over, with one intention at heart:  improving and implementing change in Malta, for everyone. 

Surprisingly, Bernard Grech’s first pledge is an economic one — this same pledge is imprinted on a banner on the headquarters of the Nationalist Party, quite disconnected from his general political positions. He sings his own praises by saying that the politicians running on the Nationalist Party ticket have a single intention, far from personal gain, which reflects the party’s commitment to good governance. The speech ends with a standstill, as the National Anthem plays on.

From the speech, Bernard Grech’s priorities, coupled with the campaign’s motto ‘Mieghek Għal Malta’ are what we have been expecting all along: a reflection of the ‘religio et patria’ motto which the Nationalist Party holds to heart. Without further ado, let’s rank. 

Policy Mentions: 

Most interesting:  The billion-euro investment for new economic sectors. 

On everyone’s minds: Good governance and freedom of speech. 

Needs further explanation: The driving forces behind the Nationalist Party’s campaign.

The Good: 

Bernard Grech seems to be taking a target towards the youth — with a stage full of young people and adolescents, this may seem obvious. Similar to the Labour Party’s slogan, the Nationalist Party’s ‘Mieghek għal Malta’ slogan loosely translates to ‘‘Unity for Malta”. Could this hint at working hand in hand with the Labour Party for any such common objectives they have together? At least, he admitted that the Nationalist Party is far from perfection, but willing to try.  

Room for improvement:

The Nationalist Party and the man driving the wheel behind it have long claimed that they are ready for an election, immaterial of the set date. And yet, Grech’s speech leaves much to be desired and is deconstructive, in substance. What is shocking, is that when the audience booed at the sound of Prime Minister Robert Abela’s name, Bernard Grech did not do much, except raise his hands and speak further about the ‘lies’, lack of credibility and competence of the Labour Party. While Bernard Grech might not intrinsically agree with Robert Abela, the very least he can do, if he aspires to lead, is show a degree of respect to his counterpart. 

Ambition: 10

Optimism: 5

Energy: 7

Style and Delivery:  7

Pragmatism: 6

4.8 32 votes
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Loreto dalli
Loreto dalli
2 years ago

Well said.

A.Cutajar
A.Cutajar
2 years ago

Very well written

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