It's day 12 of the electoral campaign, and we expect both main parties and other electoral candidates to hold events to detail further pledges ahead of the March 26 general election.  

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As it happened

Here’s a round-up of today’s main events:

  • Robert Abela keeps avoiding the media
  • Environmental NGOs put out a manifesto of their own
  • Some women candidates debate each other

Live blog ends

10.08pm That's all from us today. We'll be back tomorrow to give you more 2022 election updates, as they happen. Thank you for having joined us.

If you want to change direction, vote PN - Bernard Grech

10.05pm Speaking in Valletta during a meeting with young people in the evening, Bernard Grech said Labour had become the negative party, something it used to accuse the PN of being.

This, he said, is a historical moment. The PN was giving the country new hope, a new future to its youths.

He appealed to the young people to vote PN saying that whatever their natural choice was, they should give the PN a chance.

The current government, he said, was a joke. It had not yet come up with an electoral programme, showing it was unprepared, it had not created any new economic sectors and the Prime Minister avoided journalists.

“If you want to change direction, you only have one choice - Malta. Vote PN,” he said.

PN event in Valletta

9.32pm The Nationalist Party’s event in Valletta has started.

Watch it live in the video below.

ADPD meets MUT

9.01pm The ADPD also met the Malta Union of Teachers on Friday, the party said in a statement in the evening.

ADPD's electoral manifesto focuses primarily on the need that investment in schools prioritised educators.

CDAU to be set up in Gozo

8.30pm When speaking in San Ġwann, Prime Minister Robert Abela said the government will be setting up a Child Development Assessment Unit (CDAU) in Gozo and will extend the unit’s services to schools, in a more comfortable environment for children.

He also announced that the carer grant, first introduced last year, would be increased from €500 to €4,750 a year, equivalent to almost €400 a month.

The carer grant is given to a parent or relative who is not in employment to be able to look after a child with a severe disability who is over 16 years old.

Abela, Grech to take part in event for businesses

8.10pm Looks like Robert Abela and Bernard Grech will also be taking part in an activity for businesses organised by the Malta Chamber of SMEs on March 14.

The event will be held at Villa Arrigo in Naxxar at 11am.

Labour has no weapons but lies, attacks and hatred - Bernard Grech

7.56pm Opposition leader Bernard Grech told the crowd in Żabbar that the Labour Party's campaign has shifted to negative rhetoric, with billboards and other campaign material proving this. 

Labour, he said, has resorted to "lies, attacks and hatred" because it has "no other weapons left."

He urged listeners to keep in mind that a vote for Labour or Robert Abela will only lead to a greater gap "and he (Abela) will continue to dismiss people like flies".

He acknowledged that surveys showed his party was still trailing well behind Labour.

Grech once again criticised the Labour Party for not yet publishing its electoral manifesto, saying the party had no idea what it was doing, something which had been the case for months.

"We are in the second week [of the campaign] and we have yet to see Labour's electoral manifesto. The party is not prepared," he said.

PN event in Żabbar

6.45pm The Nationalist Party’s event in Żabbar has started.

Watch it live in the video below.

PL event in San Ġwann

6.42pm The Labour Party’s event in San Ġwann has started.

Watch it live in the video below.

Keeping tabs on the big cheeses

6pm It’s been another ghostly day for Robert Abela, who has limited himself to photo ops with friendly Labour supporters pretty much all week. 

He's now made an (unannounced) visit to Safi, to greet more fans of his. 

Abela will follow that up with a Labour Party event in San Ġwann, starting at 6.30pm. 

Bernard Grech, meanwhile, spent the day picking up some street cred by having a kickabout and talking up his gamer credentials. He’ll now wrap up the day in a more conventional manner, with a PN event in Żabbar that begins at 6.15pm and another in Valletta at 9pm.

Women in politics

5.55pm Some of the women contesting this general election debated one another in Ta' Qali earlier this afternoon.

PN candidates Graziella Attard Previ and Josianne Cardona Gatt, Labour candidates Davina Sammut Hili and Amanda Spiteri Grech as well as nonbinary candidate Mina Tolu, representing ADPD, all took part.

They discussed the politics of inclusion, the participation of children in politics and youth in society as well as work-life balance.

Grech's pitch to Marsascala: you can't trust Robert

5.45pm Ten days ago, Robert Abela announced that the government would not be building a yacht marina in Marsascala, after all. 

"We listened," he told residents as he announced that change of heart

Bernard Grech tells residents that it's once bitten, twice shy. 

"They only changed their minds [about the marina] on the eve of the election when they realised they would be losing a lot of votes," he said in a brief statement from the southern coastal town. 

Lies, damned lies, and campaigning

5.06pm PN spokesperson Peter Agius has accused at least one Labour politician of lying to voters, in an attempt to mislead them. 

Agius claims that a Russian-Maltese family he spoke to was told by a PL candidate that a PN government would revoke their Maltese citizenship. He did not name the Labour politicians responsible. 

That is not true, of course: the PN has said nothing of the sort. 

“Do not fall for the misinformation!! We will scrap the current system of passport scheme with its secrecy. That has nothing to do with you and all to do with Labour’s mismanagement,” Agius told his followers on social media. 

A leaders' debate - save the date

4.39pm  We finally have a leader’s debate on the horizon - but the independent media is not involved. 

Robert Abela and Bernard Grech will debate one another on Wednesday, March 16 at 11am, at a debate organised by the Malta Chamber. 

We don’t know who will host it or how it will be structured. All we’ve been told is that “members of the business community will be invited for this discussion.”

We're also expecting the PL and PN leaders to debate one another at university at some point in this campaign - Abela said last week that he would be attending that one.  

Kitting up 

3.45pm Bernard Grech took a break from pursuing his campaign goals to score some real ones during his visit to Junior College this morning. The PN leader even belted one in with the outside of his left foot.

Labour's Aaron Farrugia also showed off his skills on social media last week. We're now three politicians short of an electoral five-a-side team. Any other candidates? 


What do eNGOs want? 

3.10pm Many of Malta's leading eNGOs have put out a manifesto of their own, which they are putting to all politicians and parties.

They're calling it 'from words to action'. Some of its requests: 

  • Entrench environmental protection and environmental rights in the constitution 
  • Give the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and ERA veto powers on planning applications 
  • Create a public database and map about land ownership and publicly accessible paths 
  • Set a target of making 25% of agricultural land organic by 2030 

Read more about their requests in our full report.

Prime Minister meets Żabbar residents

2.32pm So it looks like the Prime Minister was electioneering this morning after all. But it does not seem like the media were informed.

Robert Abela posted about the event after it happened on Facebook, saying there was massive enthusiasm in the city for the call of Malta Flimkien.

Bernard Grech to meet Malta Union of Teachers

2.26pm After teachers' meeting with the Prime Minister on Thursday, it seems that it is now the PN leader's turn.

Bernard Grech is scheduled to meet the Malta Union of Teachers at the PN headquarters at 3.15pm.

Candidates, start your paperwork

12.58pm Facebook is awash with photos of electoral candidates filing their paperwork to run on March 26. Applications have been trickling in for days, but it appears activity at the Naxxar counting hall is really picking up steam now.  

A smiling Chris Fearne appears to be the most excited of them all, posting an "ejja minn hemm!!" [Let's do this] along with his photo.  

Grech's youthful turn

11.59am Bernard Grech followed up his breakfast with a meet-and-greet at Junior College. He smiled and took selfies, and urged the youngsters to “convince other people” to bring about change. 

There's a 10-minute video of event, if you're inclined to watch. 

Nothing new for breakfast

11.26am Incidentally, Grech was answering journalists’ questions at the end of a PN business breakfast in which he spoke about the need to broaden Malta’s economy and ensure a better work-life balance and promised better conditions for teachers.

Grech also criticised Robert Abela for not acting proactively on Ukraine. 

“During this general election, people have a choice between someone who does not decide and someone who has a clear vision for this country," the PN leader told his audience. 

The PN and putting pen to paper

11.18pm On Wednesday, we noted that some of the proposals Bernard Grech unveiled regarding parental leave and work-life balance were not explicitly listed in the PN's electoral programme. 

We asked Grech about that this morning. "“Just because it’s not in the electoral programme, it doesn’t mean it’s not part of our party’s vision," he said. 

Here's his full reply. 

Bernard Grech speaking on Friday. Video: Giulia Magri

Cassola's R&D concerns

11am  Independent candidate Arnold Cassola wants Malta to significantly increase its spending on research and development. 

Malta currently invests 0.6% of its GDP in R&D, compared to the 3% EU average. That needs to change, Cassola believes.

The 10th and 11th district candidate shared that view during a meeting he had with the Chamber of Commerce earlier today. ADPD and Partit Popolari candidates were also present for the meeting, but we've not yet heard anything about it from them. 

Cassola told the lobby group that Malta's economic model must be resident-focused, and not just look at macroeconomic factors. 

Cassola shared a number of other ideas with Chamber president Marisa Xuereb, too: from introducing incentives for young people to take up farming to establishing a higher minimum wage that people can actually live on.

Cassola (fourth from right) and ADPD chair Carmel Cacopardo were among those who met with the Chamber.Cassola (fourth from right) and ADPD chair Carmel Cacopardo were among those who met with the Chamber.

Missing: Robert Abela 

9.38am It’s been four days since the prime minister took questions from journalists.

Abela ducked and weaved questions about his questionable property deal with Christian Borg on Monday.

He made no public appearances (save for stage-managed Labour Party ones) on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, he visited Junior College without informing the press (incidentally, Bernard Grech will be meeting with students there today at 11am. We know, because the PN told us so).

On Thursday, he met privately with the teachers’ union and visited Lufthansa Technik and legged it without taking questions.

There are no indications so far that he will be breaking his media blackout streak today.  

We don’t know whether Abela’s absence is planned or coincidental. Either way, it’s not a good look for a prime minister of an EU member state in the middle of an electoral campaign. 

PN business breakfast kicks off

9am Claudio Grech, who has been tasked to draft the PN electoral programme, is addressing the party's business breakfast.

You can watch here:

What's on today?

8.30am Good morning and welcome to our live blog on the twelfth day of the electoral campaign.

Political events will kick off earlier than usual today, with Bernard Grech addressing a business breakfast at the Xara Lodge in Rabat at 8.45am.

The PN leader has a packed day. At 10.45am he is scheduled to meet students at Junior College in Msida. In the afternoon he will visit Marsascala and Gudja residents, and then address party supporters at 6pm in Misraħ tal-Madonna Medjatriċi, Żabbar. Grech will also be meeting youths in Valletta at some point throughout the day. 

At 10 am, independent candidate Arnold Cassola will be meeting the Chamber of Commerce in Valletta.

So far we have not been informed of any PL press conferences, and all we know is that Robert Abela is set to participate in the ONE TV Awla programme, which will be broadcast at 6.30pm from Misraħ Lewża in San Ġwann.

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