The final televised political duel between the two main political leaders was extremely civilised with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition Leader Adrian Delia airing their arguments and rebutting each other’s in a courteous manner.
There were no surprises during the second and final debate between Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition Leader Adrian Delia. Both leaders calmly explained their positions on many issues central to their respective campaigns. In a Broadcasting Authority debate, Dr. Delia said that the Labour Party’s position on abortion was not clear given that it had accepted the manifesto of the Party of European Socialists.
While denying this, the Prime Minister went on to say that the Nationalist Party had self-destructed: not only did they not want to contest Local Council elections in several locations but all their talk about foreigners was contradictory to the spirit of the European Union when 7 out of every ten foreigners in Malta were European.
Dr. Delia denied that his arguments on immigration were taking the PN to the far-right and said that he had a zero tolerance threshold for racism, recalling that it was Dr Muscat who wanted a pushback and that he was one of the lawyers who had signed a formal protest against it. On the Citizenship by Investment program, Dr. Delia said that this scheme had done more harm than good for the country because it had sullied Malta’s reputation. He referred to the harsh criticism levelled at the government in the last Council of Europe report because of the rule of law. Referring to the Vitals hospital contract, he asked Dr Muscat whether he agreed with Konrad Mizzi or with Chris Fearne about this contract.
Dr Muscat replied that he agreed with both Dr. Fearne and Dr Mizzi while the Leader of the Opposition was not in a position to say which of his deputies agreed with him. The Prime Minister stated that Dr. Delia’s argument to the effect that the Government was increasing the economy by means of population growth – did not hold water. He said if that were the case then Africa has would have a growing economy on account of its large population. He said that foreign workers came to Malta because of its growing economy. The two leaders did not agree on the subject of road investment.
As far as the Council of Europe report, Dr Muscat said that this was not an objective report on the lines of European Commission reports since it had been conducted by the Dutch Deputy of the European People’s Party who had his own apologising to do after coming out with a fake news story involving an airplane carrying passengers which crashed over Ukraine.
The two leaders also touched on the environment with Dr. Delia criticising the fact that deaths had doubled due to pollution and that the Government had wreaked havoc on the environment with no development plan whatsover. He said that Malta could be carbon neutral but had not yet reached the European Union objectives for clean energy.
Dr Muscat conceded that the Government could have been more sensitive to the environment. He added that most of the issues raised were in respect of ODZ development areas which had shifted to development areas under the Nationalist government. He mentioned the need for a long-term plan which would seriously address the issue of development. Dr Muscat said that the government had put an end to the pollution from power station and the Nationalist Party had put obstacles in the country’s way for it to continue to work with oil instead of gas.
The debate was peppered with quick-witted repartee on several issues including tax, the Egrant case, electricity bills, surplus, deficit and political credibility.