Gozo’s political landscape has changed in 2017. The Nationalist Party, with its historical roots deep in Gozo has lost its vaunted electoral majority. Something which political observers used to consider as equivalent to the Labour Party losing its majority in Cottonera. As late as 1962, the Labour Party was able to muster less than 900 votes in Gozo. In 2017, instead the Labour Party beat the Nationalist Party by about 900 votes, mustering a share of the vote that was nearly 9 times that half a century earlier.
What was behind this turnaround? One factor is that during a time of unprecedented economic growth for Malta, for the last 4 years, the Gozitan economy has grown even faster than the Maltese economy.
In this light, many are failing to understand the logic behind the narrative that is being peddled about by the Opposition, that things were better for Gozitans under the previous Nationalist administration. The Leader of the Opposition argues that during this “golden age” there were only 1,500 Gozitans having to travel to Malta for work, against more than double now. He then continues his narrative by saying that the Labour Government has not created jobs in Gozo for Gozitan residents, like the previous administration had done.
Given the electoral turnaround in Gozo, this narrative appears quite suspect. And in fact, two replies given by Minister Clyde Caruana to parliamentary questions made by Labour Whip Glen Bedingfield reveal a very different situation.
Firstly, NSO data indicate that it is a myth that under the last Nationalist Government there were only 1,500 Gozitans working in Malta. In fact, it turns out that in 2012 there were nearly twice as much, or nearly 2,600. In addition, the data disprove the Oppossition’s narrative that under a Nationalist administration the number of Gozo residents working in Malta was not on the rise. In fact, there was an increase of 14% just between 2010 and 2012.
The information provided in Parliament also shows that the number of Gozo residents working in Gozo has increased by almost 4,000 since 2012. This in the context of an overall employment rise of 5,000 for Gozo residents. Which means that 4 out of 5 jobs added under a Labour Government were in Gozo.
This contrasts with what was happening before 2013. Between 2010 and 2012 the number of working Gozitan residents had increased by an average of 250 per year. This versus an average of almost 750 per year under a Labour Government, 3 times higher.
In the last two years of a PN administration, one in five new employment was in Gozo. Compare this with the record under a Labour Government of four out of five new jobs in Gozo.
Before 2013, there was an average increase of 83 Gozitans working in Gozo each year. Since 2013, the average increase rose to 531. This means that considering everything, the trend under a Labour Government is six times that under the previous Nationalist administration.
Before 2013, there was an average increase of 83 Gozitans working in Gozo each year. Since 2013, the average increase rose to 531.
The source of this narrative appears to be the shadow minister for Gozo, Dr Chris Said. The latter had started this narrative of just 1,500 Gozitans working in Malta in 2012, in his reaction to the 2021 Budget on national television. More recently, Dr Said stated in another national television show that NSO data shows that in 2012 there was a €300 gap between the wage of the average Gozitan and that of the average Maltese.
This appears to be another incorrect political statement, as the NSO publication “Gozo in Figures 2015” very clearly shows that whereas in 2012 the average Gozitan worker earned €14,805, the average Maltese earned €15,590. So,unless Dr Said has discovered some form of new quantum mathematics, the difference was close to €800, or nearly three times as much.
In view of this, the Occam’s razor Principle would come in handy for the Opposition strategists. The simplest explanation is usually the best one. The Nationalist Party is losing Gozo because Labour is delivering. To try to convince people that they are mistaken and that they were better off when they were indeed, worse off, is condescending and unlikely to ever work.