As Malta strides into 2024, a pivotal year awaits, marked by the critical European Parliament elections and the local council elections scheduled for June 8.

The political tempo is set to intensify, with parties gearing up for a campaign season starting as early as January. This period will not only decide Malta’s representatives in the European Parliament but also shape the local governance landscape.

The Labour Party, currently at the helm, faces the dual challenge of retaining its stronghold while winning back the trust of disenchanted voters. Their campaign, though European in scope, will tactically pivot around national issues, aiming to resonate with the local electorate. The strategy is clear: to transform dissatisfaction into a renewed mandate by addressing pressing national concerns.

On the other hand, the Nationalist Party is setting sights on reclaiming lost territory in local councils. Targeting former strongholds like St Paul’s Bay, Mosta, Valletta and Siġġiewi, the PN is banking on a more localised campaign approach. The objective is straightforward – to reinstate PN influence in areas that have gradually tilted towards PL in recent elections.

Beyond party lines, the imminent need is for competent, dedicated representatives who will champion Malta’s interests in the European Parliament. The electorate must navigate beyond partisan preferences to identify candidates with the vision and capability to represent Malta effectively on the European stage.

Similarly, for local councils, the emphasis should be on a blend of youth and experience, focusing on individuals who have demonstrated integrity and commitment to their localities.

Elections apart, there are other pressing needs that I believe we should focus on during the year.

The year ahead is not just about elections and economic strategies; it’s about setting the course for a future that reflects the aspirations and potential of the Maltese people

Malta’s economy, while stable, faces the challenge of over-saturation in its key sectors. 2024 must be the year where the nation pivots towards identifying and nurturing new, sustainable industries. This shift is not just a response to current economic conditions but a proactive measure for future-proofing Malta’s economic landscape.

The quest for a new lucrative industry is not about quick fixes but about sustainable, long-term solutions. It’s about industries that are not built on fleeting trends but on solid foundations capable of withstanding global economic shifts. The success stories of Malta’s past, such as the financial, aviation, maritime and iGaming sectors, serve as blueprints. The objective is clear: to brainstorm, explore and, ultimately, crystallise an industry that will offer not just jobs but careers for generations to come.

An essential aspect of this transition is the alignment of Malta’s educational framework with emerging industry needs. It involves a concerted effort to equip the Maltese workforce with the skills required in this new industry. Collaborations between educational institutions and industry leaders will be crucial in shaping a curriculum that is as forward-thinking as it is practical.

There is one more thing that I believe should be addressed. Malta’s societal fabric has long been intertwined with a system of political patronage, a legacy that has both shaped and sometimes constrained its development.

If we’re to address this, the path forward involves fostering a meritocratic society where success and advancement are based on skill, knowledge and ability, rather than political connections.

This shift requires not just policy changes but a cultural revolution, where the value of education and personal development is paramount. The establishment of think tanks and working groups dedicated to this cause can spearhead initiatives aimed at gradually transforming societal norms and expectations.

As Malta stands at the crossroads of change in 2024, the decisions made and the paths chosen will have lasting impacts. The year ahead is not just about elections and economic strategies; it’s about setting the course for a future that reflects the aspirations and potential of the Maltese people. It’s a year for strategic vision, decisive action and, most importantly, hope in the collective effort to usher in a new era of prosperity and progress for Malta.

Alan Abela Wadge is a former local councillor in Msida and the former president of the PN’s local councillors.

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