After the usual 9 to 5 routine, some of us enjoy nothing more than to wind down in our own way by catching up on the tittle tattle that the parties have to say on the campaign trail from the comfort of our sofas or armchairs. Maybe paired with a glass of wine and crackers, to make everything all the more tolerable. Our children can also join us in our humble abode and space and give us a brief of what they believe is the more appealing side. This is one of those times.
What are we criticising?
Abela and Grech’s discourse at their respective events and if they attempt to park in each others’ lawns.
What do we know so far?
The Government has temporarily suspended applications hailing from Russian and Belarussian nationals. Abela visits Junior College to attract those who are 16 years of age and eligible to vote and hosts a Q&A. Grech addresses a press conference and an ‘under-the-tent’ interview held in Msida and takes an attractive approach to Gen Z.
Abela’s day in politics
Yesterday, Prime Minister Robert Abela visited Junior College- a tertiary education institution where students study to achieve advanced level exams to qualify for university. The visit to Junior College has been a long lasting tradition for political leaders to undertake in the course of the campaign trail. However, this time, it carries much more significance, and politicians visiting must ensure that they are ready to answer questions imposed by the younger generation and provide detail of how they will pay their dividends to this generation in the course of the legislature. More on this later.
In last night’s Q&A in the village of Santa Luċija, Abela addressed a series of questions put forward by the audience. Abela compares the realities of the people he met during his campaign trail and how they are substantially different and yet, their vision for the future of Malta is very much similar. Abela was very much realistic about tragic events which ensued in the year so far- more specifically on femicide and explained the significance and effect of the recent bill brought forward in Parliament. Abela also said that peacekeeping will remain a priority and that Malta welcomes all communities, immaterial of their nationality.
The first question came from a life-long dedicated teacher. In his answer, Abela put forward a new pledge, which is to improve the conditions and infrastructure of teaching conditions, which also means an increase in pay for teachers and the re-negotiation of collective agreements to achieve this. A pragmatic and very much needed start. Oh, and a salary for teaching practice- does not cover all of unpaid internships, but it is a starting point. Hmm, a question imposed by an 11 year old- on the environment.
Abela speaks about the importance of achieving carbon neutrality and how much young people hold the environment to heart- which all the more prioritises the need for the million-euro investment for green open spaces if a Labour government is re-elected. Abela gave note to previous projects which incentivised reaching environmental goals. An increase in children’s allowance in reply to a question imposed by a member of the audience. Abela mentioned the importance of reading from a young age as the impetus for the pledge for investing in a mini-library for every student. In an age where we are seeking a balance with technological advancements, finding time and including literature in one’s daily life is imperative. It will help aspiring students learn the nuances of the language and think critically. Finally, including arts and sports for children in the discussion. Abela acknowledges the reality that not everyone may have the means to invest in extracurricular activities and as a result will triple the current measure which incentivises financing extracurricular activities by adding a tax credit of €300.
Oh this is an interesting one- a father shares a heartbreaking story about his daughter being born with a pre-genetic condition which saw her growth decrease rapidly. The father’s question to the Prime Minister was how long will they have to wait till the IVF proposals devised by the Labour Party will be enacted if the Labour Party is elected in office once again. Rightly so. Abela staunchly pledged that improvements for reproductive technologies will be chiselled in the Labour Party’s upcoming manifesto. Abela did not hesitate to promise that after 100 days of being in office, the Government will table these reforms in a bill presented in the House. Abela also mentioned advanced technologies, but he did not specify what these technologies are, for example, such as Preimplantation Genetic Diagnostics (PGD).
Abela’s approach in last night’s Q&A session was pragmatic, engaging and gave a sense of commitment attached to every proposal and answer put forward. A break from the usual press conferences is refreshing too, considering technicalities and big numbers are not everyone’s cup of tea. An event which sees discussion and a chance to face the person pledging to move the country forward for the next 5 years, is imperative and gives the audience a chance to question their elected officials- as is done in a democratic society. This event handled fundamental issues which people deal with on a daily basis, and gave all the answers which those attending wanted to hear.
Where the Labour Party may be lacking or should not get too comfortable, on the other hand is how the Party is appealing to those who have turned 16 and are now eligible to vote in the upcoming election. Grech made it clear from the get-go that he is targeting this cluster of eligible voters and while Abela’s initiatives are certainly in good faith, we believe that to gain brownie points from all sides, the Labour Party needs to address and improvise more to the needs and wishes of Gen-Z and should listen with an open mind, be open to criticism and be willing to learn from this generation.
Solid Answers: 9
Clearly spoken: 8.5
Grech’s sprint to the finish line
Last night we headed to Msida, a branch of the 9th District. The first question imposed on the Leader of the Opposition, Bernard Grech, is the regeneration of the Nationalist Party and if there will be other veteran candidates who will step aside ahead of the general election. Well, realistically, we don’t think Grech will show his hand or is somewhat of a mind-reader of people’s intentions. Grech maintains that despite his short tenure so far, he has managed to turn around the Nationalist Party in the way he envisaged and if possible, no one should leave the ranks of the Nationalist party, rather, to empower more people to enter into their ranks, either as a voluntary role or taking the role of a candidate.
Grech sang the praises of the mammoth billion-euro investment and maintained that one of the reasons behind it is the future of the upcoming generations, coupled with many other factors. Grech exemplified his vision for initiatives which will strengthen families’ day to day activities and uses the example of…an embryo from conception? And apparently Abela’s plagiaristic streak? Not sure where we are going with this. Oh, well at least Grech advocated for a work-life balance with his proposals- there’s our silver lining.
Grech criticised Abela for not putting the average family in the centre of social justice reform and maintained that his rigour is superficial. An increase of paternal leave- this is interesting and a good one. This should be taken seriously by all parties. Grech’s points on equal parenting are admirable and make sense, but once again, he relies very much on the nuclear family visualisation of a family, rather than other forms of parenting and familial institutions. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, not including other forms of families, such as single-parent and/or same-sex couple fantasies falls short of an inclusive and progressive idea of governing. A low birth-rate? Trust us, coping with life’s many tasks is not the sole reason why couples are choosing not to have children- some couples may not even have the luxury of choice.
Grech gave testament to the Ukraine-Russia cataclysm. Grech re-affirmed his position and praised European Parliament President Madame Roberta Metsola for using her position to show European solidarity. On whether Grech will make use of the Citizenship by Investment Scheme if elected and how he will use it, Grech did not really give an answer on this, rather he focused on the billion-euro investment and scrutinising Abela. An appeal to Robert Abela to take more notice of people, why the PN is the better choice and so on. Let’s rank.
Grech’s speech hit a couple of targets which are undeniably good and important. However, it was also somewhat anticlimactic. Grech targeting the youth, on Facebook groups and in his proposals is somewhat catching the attention of the younger generations and maybe this is where the Nationalist Party is performing well. While it may not necessarily generate into votes, in this reality, it’s still a tool which the Nationalist Party is using.
However, a more mature audience will appreciate other things such as action and reforms which address an array of scenarios which the common person faces in everyday life. The Opposition is there to give the government the occasional and needed reality check. However, the Opposition must also have a solid foundation if it wishes to switch the side on where it sits in the House. It must be open to collaboration on causes which aim to achieve the common good and this is juxtaposed with the Nationalist Party’s current endeavours.
Solid Answers: 6.5
Clearly spoken: 7