The commentariat is visibly irked with the size of Robert Abela’s electoral victory. After having failed miserably in their target of ensuring a smaller gap between Labour and Nationalist parties, these independent writers are all out trying to minimise Labour’s third landslide.
Some are arguing that the fact that Labour did not get a two-thirds majority was the real target for this election, inventing up stories that since the election of Bernard Grech as Nationalist leader there was a considerable rise in support for the Nationalist party. In reality, under Bernard Grech’s leadership, the Party managed to get its lowest popular vote share since the 1955 general election.
Another narrative that the commentariat is trying to peddle is that despite winning by the largest margin in post-Independence history, Robert Abela’s government is in electoral trouble. This because they claim that if one adds all those who voted for other parties, those who invalidated their vote and those who did not bother to vote at all, this number is higher than those who voted Labour.
In so doing this narrative is trying to redefine what constitutes an electoral victory. Any victory whereby the winning party does not command more than 50% of the registered voting population does not enjoy popular support. By this definition, the leader of the free world, President Joe Biden would be a veritable oligarch as he only managed to get 34% of all registered voters in America. Boris Johnson who in 2019 was credited with one of the biggest electoral victories in UK history is pulling everyone’s leg, as in reality his party only got 29.3% of the UK’s registered votes.
Using the same benchmark of the commentariat, the only time that a Maltese political party commanded an electoral majority that exceeded 50% of all registered voters was the Labour Party in 2013, when it beat this benchmark by a mere 0.8%. All other elected governments would not make the cut. Every single Nationalist government had more registered voters not approving it than approving it. This includes the 2003 administration that claimed its electoral victory meant that EU membership was mandated by popular support.
By the commentariat’s new electoral benchmark no Nationalist Prime Minister in history merited office as none of them ever commanded the vote of more than 50% of registered voters. The worst culprit would be Nerik Mizzi who became Prime Minister while winning under 22% of registered voters’ approval. Gorg Borg Olivier took the country to Independence despite having under 38% of registered voters giving his party their first preference. Neither Eddie Fenech Adami nor Lawrence Gonzi ever made the cut either.
The ridiculous extent to which the commentariat is going to try to diminish Labour’s largest victory in post-Independence history is becoming obvious to all. It would make much more sense if instead of trying to redefine the legitimacy of an electoral mandate, the commentariat focuses its energies on understanding why its favoured political side has been failing to win an absolute majority of the voting public for nearly two decades, with the amount of first preferences down to their level in the 1987 general election and the vote share back to what it was in the mid-1950s. Trying to delegitimise the new administration’s strong electoral mandate is a sure way to continue cementing the secular downward trend of the Nationalist Party’s electoral fortunes.