Tuesday is day 30 of the general election campaign.

These were the key events on the campaign trail: 

  1. The PN filed a legal bid to force a re-take of voting in prison, amid concerns that some prisoners who were ineligible to vote did so anyway.
  2. The PN focused the day on Gozo, with Bernard Grech discussing the party’s Gozitan plans at a business breakfast, then leading a party rally in the evening.
  3. Labour focused its efforts on unions and workers: Robert Abela addressed General Workers Union veterans, with union firebrand Tony Zarb urging them to get out and vote for the party. Abela later spoke at a PL event in Paola.
  4. ADPD and Arnold Cassola both complained of discrimination by electoral authorities, saying they were being denied access to facilities which the larger parties have full access to.
  5. Bank of Valletta, the country’s largest retail bank, said it does not agree with a Labour proposal to guarantee every business a bank account. 

Spotted something worth noting? Get in touch at newsroom@timesofmalta.com

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 | day 19 | day 22 | day 23 | day 24 | day 25 | day 26| day 29

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Live blog ends

9.26pm This live blog will end here. We will be back tomorrow for more information from the 2022 general election campaign.

PN to file injunction to force re-take of prison vote 

9.05pm The PN is taking its qualms about irregular voting at prison to the law courts. 

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the PN said it will be filing a court injuction to ensure ballot boxes related to the early voting at Corradino Correctional Facility are sealed and remain untouched. 

The party says several prisoners who were not meant to vote were allowed to do so, and wants the vote at Corradino Correctional Facility to be re-taken. The Electoral Commission has turned down that request and Robert Abela has brushed the issue aside. 

Grech accuses Abela of being a 'serial tax evader'

8.50pm Bernard Grech went for his opponent’s jugular during a speech he gave at a PN rally in  Victoria this evening, accusing Robert Abela of being a “serial tax evader”. 

Questions about the prime minister’s financial affairs have plagued him throughout the campaign – just a few days ago, we reported how he rented an ODZ villa he owns to wealthy Russian passport applicants. The PN has challenged him to prove that he declared that income in his tax declaration.

Read more about the PN event here.

Silvio's 'fenkata ministerjali'

8.20pm Silvio Schembri has published a short video of himself rolling up his sleeves and cooking a fenkata for some friends, family and supporters.

There are some cringeworthy moments - "Silvio is kind-hearted, he looks out for the little guy" - but it’s one of the more original videos we’ve seen in the campaign so far.  

Abela promises humility in victory 

7.57pm With Labour a shoo-in for victory in Saturday's election, the key question that has yet to be settled is the party's margin of victory. 

As a rule of thumb, the smaller the margin, the more chance the electorate has of keeping excesses of power in check. 

But Robert Abela sees things differently: 'the more trust you place in us, the humbler we will be,' he told a crowd in Paola tonight.


Arnold Cassola ends his sit-in

7.35pm When Arnold Cassola was refused access to the metaphorical engine room of the Naxxar counting hall, he refused to leave. 

Now, roughly three hours into his impromptu sit-in, the independent candidate has been granted an access pass by the electoral commission.

BOV is not keen on Labour's bank account plans

7.29pm Quite the broadside from BOV CEO Rick Hunkin, who has shot down Robert Abela's call for all businesses to get a bank account. 

That’s a Labour Party electoral pledge, by the way.

But Hunkin is not having it, saying some business is just too risky for the bank to stomach. 

He’s also not too impressed by the way the proposal was unveiled, it seems, telling our reporter that banking reform requires dialogue, “rather than one side being told what to do”.  

Read more about the bank’s views. 

Watch: Robert Abela in Paola 

6.55pm Robert Abela has made it to Paola, slightly behind schedule. 

Watch the Labour Party event in the video below. 

Watch: PN rally in Gozo 

6.45pm The PN is holding a rally in Gozo, and party leader Bernard Grech will address the crowd any minute now. 

Watch the event - and Grech's speech - in the video below. 


Ian Borg headlines €2.5m unveiling in his hometown

6.34pm Ian Borg is unveiling a €2.5 million project to embellish a square in his hometown, Dingli.

Dingli also forms part of the 7th district, which he will be contesting.  

A couple of weeks ago, we calculated that around 40 per cent of official ministerial events during the electoral campaign concerned initiatives in ministers’ own constituencies.

And that percentage has most likely shot up even further in the ensuing days. Earlier today, for instance, Miriam Dalli unveiled a €40m project in Birżebbuġa, which forms part of the 5th district that she is contesting. 

Where are the leaders tonight? 

6.12pm Bernard Grech is in Victoria for a PN rally in Gozo. We expect him to address the crowd at around 6.30pm. 

Robert Abela will in Paola for a Labour event that begins at 6.30pm. And once that’s done, he’s off to Gianpula, for an event targeting young voters.

Sant's sudden shift in perspective 

5.20pm Accusations about the government’s decision to send out stimulus cheques in the middle of an electoral campaign have featured prominently during this campaign. 

Former PM (and current Labour MEP) Alfred Sant finds it odd that questions are being asked about the power of incumbency now, when none were asked back in 2008 when he was Labour and Opposition leader. 

“What has changed to make the issue so interesting, when it is much less potent... I wonder,” Sant said, somewhat mischievously. 

Perhaps just as strange is Sant’s conclusion that the power of incumbency is “much less potent” now than it was back then. 

What has changed for him to reach that conclusion, we wonder? 

See what Sant had to say about those stimulus cheques.

 Cassola stages sit-in protest at Naxxar counting hall 

4.28pm Arnold Cassola is staging a sit-in protest at the Naxxar counting hall.

The independent candidate says the electoral commission is refusing to grant him a pass that allows him into the area where dubious votes are examined. 

He says he intends to stay put and not move from the counting hall “until a card is issued” and will sleep there if he has to. 

It seems the commission - which, remember, features representatives from the two major parties - is not being very accommodating when it comes to third party candidates. Earlier today, ADPD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said it was being denied access to electronic counting data that could help it check and verify the counting process on Sunday.

Cassola at the Naxxar counting hall.Cassola at the Naxxar counting hall.

Labour candidate indisposed

4.20pm Labour candidate Amanda Spiteri Grech (district 2 and 4) has had to take her foot off the campaigning pedal due to some health issues. 

She’s posted about it on Facebook, saying she needs some days to recover following a medical intervention. But, she adds, she will remain active on social media and over the telephone.

Volt Malta's 'minifestos'

3.33pm Going through electoral manifestos can be a slog. 

Hundreds of pages filled with paragraphs of text, with key proposals nestled in between less important ones. And, to add insult to injury for naturalized citizens and other foreign residents, manifestos tend to be only available in Maltese. 

It seems the folks over at Volt Malta share these frustrations, because they have created bite-sized summaries of their various proposals, divided by sector.

They’re calling them ‘minifestos’ and you can find them here

Volt is fielding two candidates in the upcoming election, running in districts 8, 9, 10 and 11.  

Zammit Lewis in defence

3.02pm Edward Zammit Lewis was photographed tackling Neymar Jnr. (not that one) in a residential alley, adding to the football-related tropes this general election has given us.

The minister and Labour candidate is quite the fan of combining the beautiful game with the more prosaic nature of his day job: here he is in late 2017, telling Joseph Muscat that “with you as our leader, we’re the Real Madrid of politics”. 

ADPD denied access to electoral counting data

1.46pm ADPD's chairperson Carmel Cacopardo says his party has been denied access to electronic counting data that could help it check and verify the counting process on Sunday. He held a meeting with the Chief Electoral Commissioner this morning, who Cacopardo says "keeps refusing to solve the problem". 

For the first time in a general election, votes will be counted electronically. This means it's no longer possible to carry out visual monitoring of the process, he says.

Spinning Ian Castaldi Paris

1.42pm Abela was somewhat more direct when asked about a rumoured backroom deal to make Ian Castaldi Paris parliament’s next Speaker, calling that “spin” and denying any such conversation. 

The theory, first reported by NET, is that Castaldi Paris has been promised the role in exchange for not contesting this election.

Read more about that here. 

It’s worth noting that Castaldi Paris and Abela have a relationship that goes beyond politics – the former has served as Abela’s notary in the past. 

Did prisoners vote illegally? Abela won’t say 

1.25pm The PN has claimed that some prisoners who were ineligible to vote nevertheless did so, because court registrars failed to give the Electoral Commission an updated list of convicts sentenced to more than one year in prison. 

There appears to be more than a grain of truth to the claim: the commission itself has said that it relies on public officials to give it updated information (i.e. ‘don’t blame us’) and today Robert Abela talked around the issue rather than confirm or deny it.

Perhaps somebody should introduce the law courts and electoral commission to the wonders of a shared spreadsheet.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Food for thought 

12.52pm Looking for some reading material over lunch?

ADPD leader Carmel Cacopardo argues that Malta’s parliament could do with a greener tinge, noting that “if you vote as usual do not expect different results” in this Times of Malta opinion piece.

We also have Farsons CEO Norman Aquilina arguing that, regardless of who wins the general election, the country needs to visualise its expectations and priorities if it is to move forward.

“More than promises and plans, we need policies, and even more importantly, results, more so given that many politicians still gauge their level of success on the amount of money spent and not necessarily on the results attained,” Aquilina writes.

And PN candidate Mario de Marco argues that Saturday’s election is a quasi-moral issue of right versus wrong, between the PN and a party that "thrives on all that is wrong in politics."

“Sadly, in Malta today, the correlation between doing wrong and paying the price for that wrongdoing no longer exists,” de Marco writes.

Do you know who's running in your district?

12.14pm Do you know the candidates you'll find on your ballot sheet? Are you curious to understand the political dynamics of any particular district?

Our guides to Malta's electoral districts might help you work out the answers to those questions. 

District 1 - The election's barometer

District 2 - Labour’s red fortress

District 3 - Labour Party candidates to fight it out

District 4 - Battle for the votes of Mizzi and Parnis

District 5 – Abela and Grech face off in a district of heavyweights

District 6 – where will Robert Abela’s votes go?

District 7 – A dominant Ian Borg

District 8 - The largest number of candidates

District 9 - PN voters spoilt for choice

Look out for our guides to districts 10, 11, 12 and 13 in the coming days. 

Electoral Commission reminds public of shorter hospital visiting hours

11.50am Anyone visiting the hospitals on Thursday, which is when patients will be voting, can only do so between 7pm and 8pm, the Electoral Commission said.

It also reminded relatives that the voting documents should be given to patients "immediately". It is illegal to withhold another person's document, the commission said.

Another project to destroy agricultural land in Qormi - ADPD

11.44am ADPD claimed in a statement that Infrastructure Malta has another project in the pipeline which will destroy agricultural land in Qormi. 

The party said Infrastructure Malta's plans to widen the Mriehel Bypass were "madness" especially in light of the food shortages most contries are currently experiencing. 

Will Abela have to fly to Brussels day before election?

11.28am Leaders from the 27-nation bloc meet in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit focused on dealing with the fallout from the Kremlin's assault on Ukraine.

This means Prime Minister Robert Abela could be abroad just a day before the election on Saturday. Sources have confirmed Abela will be attending the summit but his travel plans have yet to be unveiled. 

The Labour leader is also set to address the party's final mass rally on Thursday evening. 

Double pension spending

11.21am The Labour government spent nearly double on pensions than its Nationalist predecessor, Labour leader Robert Abela told the gathering of elderly members of the  Labour-leaning General Workers' Union.  

He said Labour had dedicated €1 billion to pensions, whereas the PN in government had spent a €400 million less over the same period of time.  

“We are investing almost double what they did and will continue to do so because you deserve it,” he said. 

Like fans at a pop concert, the audience repeated some of Abela’s main election catchphrases, and at one point burst into a chorus of ‘Viva l-Labour, viva l-Labour’.  

Abela reminded those gathered what it was like before Labour’s 2013 return to power: out-of-stock medication, frozen pensions, and new taxes, he said, were a burden placed on the elderly.  

'Viva l-Labour'

11.10am Robert Abela has just taken to the stage at the GWU rally. He is met with chants of 'Viva l-Labour' by his supporters.

Robert Abela takes to the stage to chants of 'Viva Labour'. Video: Ivan Martin

Tony Zarb returns

10.54am General Workers Union bulwark Tony Zarb has been urging "elderly veterans" to spend the rest of the week encouraging people to vote and to vote for Labour. 

The former GWU secretary was speaking at what has become a traditional election campaign event on the Labour calendar; the Labour-leaning GWU invited PL leader Robert Abela to address its veteran members.  

Zarb said the choice facing the elderly was between a party which had raised pensions every year, and those who spent 25 years keeping pensions frozen. A party that provided medicines, and now for free, and another which had seen years of shortages. 

“Between who sends us a bill in the post and who sends us a cheque,” he said, holding up a cheque and a utility bill.

Tony Zarb. Photo: Matthew MirabelliTony Zarb. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Malta Chamber, GWU present pension reform proposals

10.44am The Malta Chamber and the General Workers Union have put forward four proposals for the reform of the pensions system. 

They are: 

1. Replace the ‘all or nothing' approach to early retirement with a flexi-employment approach, which allows a person to balance their needs to opt-out of a 40 hour week whilst remaining active in the labour market.

2. Replace top-up incentive mechanism with a positive actuarial rate so that more persons are incentivised to remain fully active in the labour market and defer the drawn down of their pension.

3. The incentive to defer retirement age so that a person aged 65 and over remains active in the labour market should be implemented by the government – albeit at a far more aggressively positive actuarial rate than proposed by the Pension Strategy group.

4. The tax structure for senior citizens who receive income from continued post-retirement employment and pension income should be re-designed. It should become an incentive rather than acting as a detriment to continued active employment.

Scientists welcome commitment to research

10.22am The Malta Chamber of Scientists has been flicking through election manifestos and is pleased to see a "big change" from previous elections in pledges on research and development. They are particularly happy to see agreement that spend on R&D should reach 2% of GDP. 

Grech presents PN vision to Gozo business people

9.50am Bernard Grech is starting his day with a business breakfast in Gozo. He is joined by the 13th district’s candidates, business people and Gozitan stakeholders. 

Grech pledged a PN government will improve the island’s autonomy in decision-making, add two brand new Gozo Channel ferries (one for passengers and the other for cargo), conduct serious and comprehensive studies about the tunnel, take back the Gozo General Hospital from Steward Healthcare and assured Gozitans that the 10 new economic sectors will be up and running in Gozo as well.

He also promised better teleworking for Gozitans, and that the party would clamp down on ‘unbridled speculation’ in construction in Gozo.

Bernard Grech in Gozo.Bernard Grech in Gozo.

The implications of a heavy defeat

9.30am Our journalist Mark Laurence Zammit interviewed PN leader Bernard Grech about his party's electoral prospects, hopes and dreams... and the implications of a Labour landslide victory.

Read his interview here. 

PS: Times of Malta invited Prime Minister Robert Abela for an identical interview. With two days to go to the end of the election campaign, he still has not confirmed his participation.

Repubblika urges public to 'vote responsibly' 

9.05am Civil society group Repubblika has urged the public to "vote responsibly", saying this is a crucial decision especially as candidates "bombard" the people with promises.

"Repubblika encourages voters to choose people that truly believe in the rule of law, who are not corrupt and who will truly fight corruption and people who will put doing good above anything else."

What happened to planned Buġibba project? - Cassola

9am Independent candidate Arnold Cassola started the day by accusing Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo of secretly "brainstorming" district restauranteurs and hoteliers this week.

Cassola said Bartolo had unveiled plans for the project in July, announcing an investment of €1.4 million. The minister had said the project would be completed by the summer. 

"May I ask, are plans still standing, or have they been amended? Will present illegalities such as taking up public pavement and placing of tables and chairs in the same square be addressed?

"Will this public open area be truly public without any concessions to business? Will public benches be installed? Is this what Clayton Bartolo is secretly discussing with the hospitality and restaurant owners of his electoral district?"

Cassola also asked why the minister had been "secretly" meeting the hospitality industry. Cassola did not provide any information on when these meetings happened or who was present.      

What's on the agenda?

9am Robert Abela begins the day with an event in Valletta, targeting elderly voters (10am). After that, the Labour leader is scheduled to appear in Paola at 6.30pm and then head to Gianpula, where the PL will hold an evening rally (8pm).

Bernard Grech will kick off the day by addressing a business breakfast in Gozo at 9.15am. The PN will also be hosting a mass meeting in Gozo this evening.

That event will begin at 6pm in Victoria. 

Three days of campaigning to go 

8.45am Candidates and parties are now in the final stretch: by Thursday evening, their (public) campaigning for Saturday's election will be officially over.    

Good morning and welcome to our general election live blog. We'll be summarising the key events from the campaign trail as they happen, throughout the day. 

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