Over the next days and weeks, analysts from both parties will be poring over the election results and drawing their conclusions on how Labour and the Nationalist Party fared. But some conclusions are already evident.

The Labour movement, the coalition that gave Labour that massive majority in subsequent elections, is politically dead and buried. So is its architect, Joseph Muscat. The biggest loser in this election is without a shadow of a doubt the former prime minister.

He has become toxic to many voters who will move away from Labour as long as it continues to associate itself with its former leader.

Muscat’s hopes of an electoral vote of confidence to boost his legal defence are now shattered. My advice to him is to concentrate on defending himself in the court room as he should have done from day one.

Labour has lost its aura and air of invincibility. Labour can no longer justify its illegal, irregular and immoral actions by citing popular support. The majority of the electorate has voted against Labour for the first time in many moons and will continue to vote against Labour unless they see a clear change in direction.

But can Labour change its course given that, over the coming months and years, it will be fighting bigger demons? I think not. The conclusion of more magisterial inquiries and the criminal charges brought against those involved in the Vitals money heist will limit Labour’s ability to set the political agenda.

Labour might be heading into a perfect political storm and this election result has severely weakened its ability to navigate its way to safety.

The third conclusion is that the credibility of surveys has been dented severely. Why is this important? Surveys had become an important tool for the government, which felt buoyed by the constant positive show of support. Robert Abela can no longer rest on this support mechanism.

The fourth conclusion is that the Nationalist Party, for the first time in a decade, has become an alternative government. This opens up a number of opportunities for the Nationalist Party which it should act upon if we want to build on the success of this election.

The PN must use this result as a springboard to bring about more change in the party

Firstly, the PN can use this result to build a stronger candidate list for the next general elections. Valid people who would have shied away from presenting themselves as candidates with the Nationalist Party might now reconsider their position.

The party also has an opportunity to increase its dialogue with social partners and use this dialogue as a platform to build stronger policies.

The party needs a strong economic vision that builds on the economic momentum our country enjoyed over the past years.

At the same time, we need to address the serious shortcomings brought about by lack of planning. Our national infrastructure is inadequate and at the point of failure. Our road and transport infrastructures are deficient. We need a policy on how to address the rising national debt which can become unsustainable. We need to carry out a study on our islands’ carrying capacity and come up with a plan to address the overcrowding that is negatively affecting our standard of living. We need a policy for the health sector, including the mental health sector, a policy area where the government has zero credibility. We need to build a tourism policy for the future that is not based on simply dishing out sponsorships and filling up our pavements with tables and chairs.

The PN cannot and should not do this work on its own. The election result gives the PN the opportunity to reach out to more sympathetic ears. Now is the time to open up. Open up to civil society and social partners and work with them to draw up a vision for the Malta we all yearn for.

The PN must use this result as a springboard to bring about more change in the party. The PN was most successful when it became more inclusive, not insular. The election result, without underestimating the importance of the unified front projected with Adrian Delia as well as the unquestionable contribution of Roberta Metsola’s wide popularity, has cemented Bernard Grech as leader of the party. But if he wants to solidify his position, he needs to surround himself with a team of people that can appeal to an eclectic and non-homogenic electorate.

The Nationalist Party, however, cannot become a party for everyone as Muscat had pledged to become pre-2013. We need to project ourselves as the party that can bring back normality to Malta by guaranteeing continued prosperity with a better quality of life and respect for the rule of law.

The next months are going to determine which party will present itself strongest come 2027, assuming that this government lasts that long.

The Nationalist Party has gone through its nine circles of hell. The Labour Party’s storm is about to kick in.

The Maltese electorate have given the strongest indication possible that they are ready for change. The party that can deliver that change will win the next election.

Mario de MarcoMario de Marco

Mario de Marco is the Nationalist Party’s spokesperson on tourism.

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