This is the 19th day of the electoral campaign. As we have been doing in the past days, we will continue to bring you a rundown of events as they happen.

Read past blogs: Day one | day two | day three | day four | day five | day eight | day nine | day 10 | day 11 | day 12 | day 15  | day 16 | day 17 | day 18

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Live blog

What happened today on the campaign trail

10.05pm This live blog will end here. We'll be back on Monday for more updates from the 2022 general election campaign. 

It was a day for big electoral pledges.

•    The Labour Party unveiled their mammoth election manifesto. Containing 1,000 pledges and points, it is one of the longest documents in local electoral history. 

•    The Nationalist Party promised to complete a 'trackless tram' project within five years of being elected, saying it would cost €2.8 billion. 

•   On a lighter note, quirky independent candidate Zaren Bonnici was recorded in a video, uploaded onto TikTok, promising to offer free breast implants to Maltese women.  

Abela ditches 'roadmap' for electoral 'blueprint' 

9.40pm Robert Abela closed off Labour’s extraordinary general conference on Friday evening saying the party’s electoral programme is an ambitious blueprint for the island’s future. 

He told party supporters the PL’s manifesto was a detailed plan prepared by a party that has a clear vision of where it wanted to take the country in the next few years. 

A country, he said, which is based on its values, with fairness being the cornerstone.

He said that if the electorate gave him the “privilege” of his first electoral mandate, he will ensure that the plan is implemented and turn Malta into the land of opportunity. 

You can read a full report on the PL event here

Labour publishes election manifesto

8.30pm The Labour Party has just unanimously approved its manifesto for the upcoming general election. 

The document was presented at the party's extraordinary general conference on Friday evening.  

Prime Minister Robert Abela was handed a copy of the Labour Party's electoral manifesto by a child at a party event on Friday.Prime Minister Robert Abela was handed a copy of the Labour Party's electoral manifesto by a child at a party event on Friday.

The mammoth manifesto is 288 pages in length and has some 1,000 points, making it one of the longest political documents in local electoral history.

Read a breakdown of the full document here

Grech closes off a day of PN campaigning

8.08pm In his final event for the day, PN leader Bernard Grech took us through the party’s trackless tram proposals, which he unveiled earlier on Friday

He once again drew comparisons between the tram proposals and those for the metro put forward by the Labour Party. 

“They tried to ridicule us after we unveiled our proposal meanwhile they continue to talk about technologies of the past. They spent millions on a report to tell us about something they will do 20 years from now. 

“Robert Abela wants to find solutions by burdening the country with more debt,” Grech said. 

In a cryptic end to his speech, Grech said he had a question for the prime minister: “Abela, in recent days, were you in any meeting involving the Sannat project?”

He did not provide any details on why he was asking such a question, saying instead he would let Malta’s investigative journalists do their job. Earlier on Friday, an application for a mega-block of apartments in Sannat was given the green light by the Planning Authority.

Labour president opens up about traumatic miscarriage

7.53pm Labour party president Ramona Attard opened up about her painful experience with miscarriage on Friday evening.  

Taking the stage at the PL’s extraordinary general conference, Attard said March 11 was a difficult day for her as it was the day she had been expecting to give birth to a baby girl.  

Instead, she had an early miscarriage as the result of a prenatal blood clot.  

She said this experience had strengthened her resolve to work to ensure no one is denied the right to have a child.  

This, she said, was why the PL was working to widen IVF treatment through legal amendments to the IVF legislation that will be passed through parliament within the first 100 days of a new government. 

“This is a ray of hope from those who have been through the trauma of miscarriage,” she said.  

Labour extraordinary general conference launches manifesto

7.26pm The Labour Party is holding an extraordinary general conference on Friday evening. 

The event, at a packed Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta, will see the party official unveil its electoral manifesto which Labour says contains some 1,000 pledges for the coming legislature.  

Times of Malta will have more detailed coverage on both the event and the manifesto later on this evening. 

Pledge against favours for votes ignored by big parties 

5.14pm Just four candidates from the dozens of candidates running for PL and PN have signed a pledge against favours for votes.

The pledge was sent out by new political party Volt.  

So far, only Alicia Bugeja Said and Oliver Scicluna have singed the pledge from those contesting on the Labour ticket.  

Scicluna had himself spoke out against the practice of vote buying earlier this year. 

From the Nationalist crop, just Albert Buttigieg and Maria Fatima Deguara signed up.  

The pledge has garnered the support of all of ADPD’s candidates, as well as independent Arnold Cassola.  

Volt’s two candidates for the election Alexia DeBono and Thomas ''Kass'' Mallia have also taken the pledge.  

Cassola rambles on with the ramblers

3.20pm Independent candidate Arnold Cassola met with the Ramblers' Association on Friday to discuss issues related to open access to the countryside, among other matters.

Cassola raised concerns about free public access to every part of the Maltese coast and protecting all public country pathways by including them in maps. 

Arnold Cassola (second from right) met with members of the Ramblers Association.Arnold Cassola (second from right) met with members of the Ramblers Association.

Election goes tits up 

3.05pm Quirky independent candidate Zaren Bonnici has entered the election race with a rather unconventional pledge of his own. 

The candidate, who styles himself as Tal-Ajkla (The Eagle), has been recorded in a video, uploaded onto TikTok, promising to offer free breast implants to Maltese women.  

“I will give you €4,000 to make your breasts bigger,” he says to chuckles in what appears to be horse stables.  

Address road safety, doctors tell politicians

1.59pm Doctors for Road Safety (D4RS) called on politicians to come up forward with "significant and concrete proposals" to address the alarming road situation.

Pointing out that there have already been nine fatalities on Maltese roads this year, the same number as in the whole of last year, they said that an overarching authority dedicated solely towards road safety that regulates and coordinates these various stakeholders might be a good start.

Terms and conditions apply

1.09pm Terms and conditions apply in the Nationalist Party's manifesto, Transport Minister Ian Borg told a news conference.

He ran a word count of the words in the PN manifesto that indicate that the proposals come with countless conditions.

"The word but appears 87 times, the word criteria 49 times, conform, 41 times. Subject to and so long as appear 60 times," he said.

Borg said the PN is constantly amending and re-uploading new versions of their manifesto while trying to hide the terms and conditions.

'We need someone who knows what I'm doing'

1.06pm During the same news conference, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana let a Freudian slip slip by...

"We need a finance minister who knows what I'm doing," he said.

No new taxes in spite of the war

1.04pm  The government will keep its word and will not introduce new taxes, despite the intensifying Ukraine war, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said on Friday.

"Introducing new taxes will backfire on the economy because it generates inflation," he told reporters during a Labour news conference.

Caruana also said Labour's electoral pledges are costed and programmed in accordance with the developing conflict.

Read the full report here.

Addressing the climate change challenge - ADPD

12.55pm ADPD also had their event on Friday, during which deputy chairperson Mark Zerafa stressed the need to address the climate change challenge.

He said that Malta’s target to become carbon neutral at the earliest may only be achieved through the use of renewal energy sources. Emissions needed to be reduced by more than half the current levels by 2030 and the government’s indicated reduction of 19% was too low, showing it was not willing to take the issue seriously.

Measures that needed to be taken were challenging but also brought with them opportunities for a more sustainable future, new types of employment; and a guaranteed continuous supply of energy that is not dependent on circumstances beyond Malta’s shores, he said.

Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said Vladimir Putin’s war brought to the fore the urgent need for Europe to gain its energy independence. 

“It is not secure and definitely not in the interest of EU peace for Malta to remain dependent on the whims of despotic and autocratic leaders through the Chinese-owned power station and the provision of gas from Azerbaijan.

“We must act now before it is too late,” he said.

Metro no solution to transport problems - Grech

12.47pm Addressing the party's noon press conference, Bernard Grech said the government's transport plan in recent years consisted only of the widening of roads and uprooting of trees. 

He outlined a series of proposals the PN was making on transport.

"Travel in Malta has become too difficult. Remote working is possible and so we will be providing incentives for employers and employees," he said.

Photo: PNPhoto: PN

He added that the solution for the congestion is not a metro but making it easier to shift to public transport. 

The PN, Grech said, is instead proposing the introduction of trackless trams, which if elected, the party could have up and running within the next five years.

This, Grech said, contrasts with the building of the metro being proposed by Labour and which will take some 20 years to complete. 

Bernard Grech's private meeting with farmers

11.10am The PN has called a press conference for noon. It will be addressed by Bernard Grech.

Meanwhile, we're told Grech was busy meeting farmers in MÄ¡arr this morning.

And it seems he's taken a leaf out of the Robert Abela playbook - the media was not informed of it.  

Getting to know Volt Malta 

10.58am Volt Malta was missing from Thursday’s leaders debate at University – it was excluded because it is only fielding candidates in two districts. 

That deprived the new progressive party of some much-needed public airtime.

So here’s a 12-minute interview with the party’s 10th and 11th district candidate Thomas ‘Kass’ Mallia, aired on the national broadcaster this morning, to help shed some light on the party’s stances. 

An ESG mishmash? 

10.30am  Words like ‘however’, ‘criteria’, ‘conforms’, ‘if’, ‘as long as’ all appear dozens of times in the PN manifesto, Ian Borg said at a press conference this morning.

“Anything the PN says always comes with a condition,” he says. 

Borg cited a number of examples. We’ll focus on one: a PN pledge to slash taxes for companies that conform with ESG criteria.

The EU, he noted, only requires companies with more than 500 employees to file such non-financial reports. 

Clyde Caruana noted that just a handful of companies locally are currently in line with ESG criteria – and that the PN itself has been unable to explain, in detail, what companies will need to do to qualify for tax breaks. 

“It seems even the PN itself doesn’t know what it’s proposing,” he said.

Caruana noted that the PN’s “tax credit” promises would totally leave out minimum wage earners – because people on the minimum wage do not pay tax and therefore cannot receive any tax credits. 

It's a point he made a couple of days ago, when he accused the PN of slashing taxes for the rich while taking money off the poor.

Your money, my votes 

9.25am Jose Herrera announced a €570,000 investment in one of his constituencies. Alex Muscat and Roderick Galdes unveiled open space investments in their districts. Silvio Schembri announced repairs in his hometown. Miriam Dalli celebrated the completion of a restored reservoir in one of her constituencies.

All those projects are funded by your taxes, and all were announced during the election campaign by ministers seeking reelection.

They’re far from being the only such cases: almost half of all official events held since the election was announced have been of ministers holding forth in their own electoral districts. 

Unsurprisingly, they see nothing wrong with this. See our full story. 

Video: Jonathan Borg

What's on today's agenda? 

9.15am Labour: It’s a big day for Labour: the party is holding a general conference this evening, during which it is expected to unveil its electoral manifesto. That begins at 7pm. 

The party is holding a press conference at 10am and it’s wheeling out two heavyweights for it – Clyde Caruana and Ian Borg. 

PN: Bernard Grech will make a soapbox appearance in Qrendi at 5.30pm and then move to Tarxien, where the PN will be holding an evening event with its fourth district candidates. 

There will no doubt be other events earlier in the day, but there have been no announcements yet.


Rules for voters in quarantine 

8.51am  If you end up in quarantine or self-isolation due to COVID-19 between March 12 and 26, you’ll be voting at a special centre. 

That’s the crux of an Electoral Commission notice regarding such cases. There’s no word about where these specialised centres will be set up yet, with the commission saying the arrangements “are being put in place”. 

Here’s an abridged version of the rules.

  1. Anyone who is COVID-positive or in quarantine from March 12 until the election date can only vote at a specialised centre.
  2. If you qualify, ignore the polling station marked on your voting document. Authorities will be contacting you to tell you where you need to go to vote instead.
  3. If you qualify and want to avail of early voting, you need to apply for permission to do so by by emailing You have until 12pm on March 18 to apply.
  4. If you will be in mandatory quarantine after arriving from an overseas country, you’ll need to make arrangements to have your voting document collected.   
  5. Anyone who
    1. does not collect their voting document by midnight of March 24
    2. is not on the list of quarantining voters provided by health authorities by 9pm on March 25

will not be allowed to vote. 

If all of this is confusing, call 2226 1010  from 8.00am to 2.00pm and from 3.00pm to 8.00pm or e-mail

Or have a read of the rules in full.

Yesterday's leaders' debate

8.45am Political party leaders sparred in the first major debate at the university yesterday with both Prime Minister Robert Abela and Bernard Grech surviving relatively unscathed.

It was a rowdy one, characterised by noticeable loud cheers for the Prime Minister and often loud jeers for the Opposition leader. 

The controversial subject of abortion came up during that debate with Abela acknowledging that the debate is ongoing and Grech saying that while it is important for the country to have a discussion on abortion, his party was in favour of life “from conception to death”.

We asked five analysts to give us their verdict about who they think won it. 

Good morning

8.30am Good morning and welcome to our live blog. We have not yet been informed what the political leaders will be doing this morning but Labour have their general conference tonight, during which they will launch their electoral manifesto.

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