The Armchair Critic | The Not-So Final Countdown

In a week, we head to the voting places to submit our votes and form part of the important democratic process. But, the week before an election can be a testing one- one word or one mistake can cause a colossal change in the electorate’s voting intentions. Some of us enjoy an intense drunken conversation with friends to discuss our withheld political objections. Others, enjoy nothing more than to spectate the events leading up to the big day from our television, from the comfort of our sofas and/or armchair. This is one of those times.

What are we criticising?

Yesterday’s political events: A rally organised by the Labour Party addressed by the Prime Minister, Robert Abela and an 11th District Candidate Meet-Up Rally organised by the Nationalist Party, one of the districts where Leader of the Opposition, Bernard Grech is contesting in. 

What do we know so far?

  • We are officially a week away from casting our votes for the upcoming general election.
  • An approximate 37,000 voting documents remain uncollected, with a deadline to collect voting documents on the 24th of March. 
  • Fundamentalist far-right political party ABBA has announced that it will initiate criminal proceedings against a list of pro-choice activists and organisations. 
  • A chemical tanker is currently adrift just off the shores of Bahar Ic-Caghaq as a result of gale-force winds which have ravaged the island in the last two days, a salvage operation is currently ongoing to prevent a chemical disaster from ensuing.
  • Ukraine Crisis: Russian Federation President, Vladimir Putin addresses a mass-rally commemorating the 8th anniversary of Crimea rejoining the Russian Federation.

Abela’s Rally Speech

Yesterday’s Labour Party rally took place in Fgura, a branch of the 4th district and a stronghold for the Labour Party. After speeches made by candidates running on the 4th district ticket, Prime Minister Robert Abela takes charge of the podium to deliver his speech to the aspiring voters. Abela starts by thanking the audience for their presence and reminding them that as of today, early voting will commence. Here is one which many can agree on, that the election is the only survey that counts. If it is- can we see more on how voter abstention and Vot 16+ will be targeted in the one week left to vote? At least, Abela insisted that he will not stop, come hell or high water, telling people why the Labour Party’s plan for the next 5 years is the strongest and most energetic. 

Abela insisted on three things that will be the driving force: a more beautiful country, more opportunities and an impeccable quality of life. He further said that despite every cataclysm thrown at the country, with a steady hand and carefully concocted plans, the country was ready with a steady hand. Abela criticised the Leader of the Opposition for demeaning the Labour Party’s vision for the future, insisting that what else can one focus on, if not on a better future? Ah, finally, some talk on voter abstention. Abela preached that there are people who are encouraging that because there is a predicted Labour win, voting would be futile or that the election is simply a fait accompli.  

Here is one which many can agree on, that the election is the only survey that counts.

What does Abela say? This is a trap, and we should not fall for it. Oh, if you have decided to stay at home instead of voting, you should remember a few of the things that could happen if a group of party adversaries were our elected officials. Well, given the examples mentioned, we think ‘Of course we’re going to vote, and how!’. Instead, Abela pledged to those viewing to vote for better results in the long run and that the last two years were just the beginning. If re-elected, Abela promised to keep on working for everyone and for Malta. 

Ah, proposals which make up the ambitious Labour Party Manifesto. Not in a particular mood to regurgitate them all, but in case you have forgotten here are a few: 700 million euro for the conversion of green and open spaces, increase in pensions and reduction in income tax. Oh, this is something which we don’t think we have ever seen in Abela’s speeches. He seems to be taking an aim at balance: ‘while work is important, so is rest’, ‘while education is important, so is sports’, ‘while everyone should have a roof over their heads, everyone should feel secure’ and that these are the things which shape the Labour Party. Finally, some distinguishable public speaking and speech points. Abela closes by saying that together, there will be a certain future and that, ultimately the future is in our hands. Anyways, we think we got the gist. Let’s rank. 

Today’s Ranking

The speech was just ideal. It wasn’t unnecessarily long and lagging, but was short and straight to the point, all the while giving, more or less, the same focus to every issue mentioned. Abela seems to be understanding the assignment, now more than ever. He used simple examples, coherent discourse and spoke with a light tone. Finally, a light was shed on voter abstention- the relevant majority of points made by Abela on this concerning issue were relatively good and spoke to those attending, but the problem is that voter abstention should not be addressed solely at a rally, but on a national level and in a way that targets everyone. Possibly what not voting can mean, what a vote for a certain party or candidate could mean. This is perhaps an issue worth further discussion, but a better effort from Abela’s end nevertheless. 

Verdict

Energy: 9

Pragmatism: 9

Clearly spoken: 8

Presentation: 7

Grech takes it to his district 

Yesterday, the Nationalist Party took it to the Silent City of Mdina, a part of the 11th District. Voters of this district will find the Leader of the Opposition, Bernard Grech running in their district. After a long list of candidates running in the 11th district made their pledges to potential voters, it was Grech’s turn to speak. Grech opens by demonstrating his family members present at the rally and throws a joke about the weather and names each and every candidate present. Well, to be fair, the gale-force wind over the last few days has been somewhat terrorising. Grech seems to be taking a somewhat light-hearted tone today, throwing a couple of jokes around- always a good sign. 

Grech starts by saying that every promise must be kept and executed, a value which his father used to preach to him and that the idea of a promise is the heart of the matter of the Nationalist Party. Grech started by giving testament to the truth-seeking drive of the Nationalist Party and that the truth always comes out. Grech thanked his predecessors and the late Daphne Caruana Galizia for their work. 

Grech mentioned the importance of consultation, which was a key shapeshifter in the making of the PN’s electoral manifesto, coupled with a vision that can be achieved by a Nationalist Party Government. Grech called out the Labour Party for its ‘half baked’ measures and that Abela did not act upon Grech’s advice. Ah, we are going to talk about more proposals, which according to Grech were devised way before those eligible to vote early were to cast their vote. Grech mentions his plan for energy, that’s good. Oh my, the ‘originality’ tug of war continues, on who released the sexual health proposals first. Well, if you are going to go down that road, Nisa Laburisti originally made a proposal for financial assistance for contraception and prophylactics and sanitary products. Can we for once, instead of resorting to a jocular ‘I did that first!’ narrative, maybe take the time to work on something as a team, if the desired outcome is mutual? A small observation though, it sounded like Grech did not even know what will essentially be offered, but the ‘MAA’ will be one of them.

Ah, costings- do we finally have an answer? Apparently not. The PN’s estimated costs will be released ‘at the right time because we decide on our own strategies’. But hey, it’s all good and well, because Grech tells us to ‘keep calm’. Okay? Pretty sure that is the English people who say that, but who needs facts, eh? Grech also said that when he buys a product from a supermarket, he does not care about how much money it costs to make the product, but the price he is buying it for. Okay, maybe money can be daunting, but at least with a clear and unchallengeable number, you know where you stand. At least, according to Grech, the only thing that matters is how the investment will come to fruition and how it will affect people. 

More proposals on health today. Just in case you haven’t heard the word ‘proposals’ enough. Continuous glucose monitoring for everyone who suffers from Type 1 diabetes- that sounds good. Free medication on the medicine formulary, no specifics however and more specialised nurses. You can probably find all these in the Nationalist Party’s manifesto, let’s rank. 

Today’s Ranking

Grech started well, but slipped up along the way. Light-hearted jokes and not taking things too seriously are always a breath of fresh air, rather than the siege-like attitude which we are used to. Grech made some imperative points and ones which we can agree on, but he also seems to be adopting the same narrative for others, instead of being open to collaboration. The idea of not having estimated costs is somewhat daunting. A plan can appear nice on paper, but without a rough estimate of what this will take, this makes it purely unrealistic. He closes on Abela, again. We can make our own objections about politicians, but what we would like to see is not a microscopic analysis of them, rather, that and a balance of what you will do to be better. Then again, we have another week to go, maybe the light will finally shine. 

Verdict

Energy: 8

Pragmatism: 7

Clearly spoken: 7

Presentation: 5

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