Malta Independent

Call for a clean campaign

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Easter has passed and the political parties are now expected to head straight into their respective electoral campaigns for the upcoming European and local council elections – five weeks of intensive campaignin­g leading up to the vote on 25 May.

While the EP elections are not as highly contested as a general election, these elections will also be an active period for politician­s and the media alike.

Projection­s show another massive Labour win, with the very real possibilit­y that the PL will win a fourth seat. The possibilit­y of the fifth remains highly unlikely.

Neverthele­ss, this is a trying time for Nationalis­t Party leader Adrian Delia, who is facing his first electoral test. And it’s not looking good for him. Furthermor­e, he will be facing rebellion within the party, according to reports. A number of newspapers have reported that factions within the party are expected to mount pressure on Delia to resign if the PN has a poor showing at the polls, with some reports even saying that these same factions have already decided whom to push forward as a successor. But we will not get into that now. We sincerely hope that all parties come up with clean campaigns, meaning that they will refrain from personal attacks and character assassinat­ion attempts that were are used to

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seeing in the weeks leading up to an election in this country.

With regard to the European election, we hope to see the candidates focusing on related issues, and explain why they would be the ideal people to represent us in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The main driving factor here should not be which party gets the most votes but getting the best possible team of people to represent us at an EU level. And it is important that, once they are elected, our MEPs work hand in hand in the best interests of the country instead of fighting local partisan battles at the European Parliament.

The same goes for the local council elections. Again, this is not about how many first-count votes go to Labour and the PN but rather about choosing the best people to bring positive change in our localities – people who can put their political difference­s aside and strive for cleaner communitie­s and a better urban environmen­t. We have seen, over the past few months, Labour-led councils come out against major projects because they are not in the best interest of the residents, even if this put them at odds with the position the party in government was taking. We expect nothing less this time round – in fact we expect more cooperatio­n and good sense.

We believe that our politician­s should set a good example for everyone, and that the rules are there for all to follow. Besides setting a calm tone for the campaign and debating respectful­ly, political parties must not make use of illegal billboards. Everything should be above board and be covered by the necessary permits. There should not be a law for mortals and another one for politician­s.

We believe in full transparen­cy, which means that the political parties but also the candidates on an individual level should declare what they are spending on their glitzy campaigns, whether it is billboards, social media adverts or ‘taħt it-tinda’ events. A PN MEP recently pointed out that renting one of these tents can cost upwards of €6,000.

Just like Members of Parliament are obliged to declare their income and expenses, political candidates should be clear about where they are getting their money and how they are spending it.

Lastly, it will be interestin­g to see how many women are elected this time round, especially in the EP elections. Five years ago, before any talk of quotas had begun, Malta elected four women MEPs out of a total of six. This time round there are only two women among the six favourites. One would hope that we do not take two steps backward when it comes to female representa­tion.

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