President George Vella has called for an end of politically-motivated hate speech that has spread across social media.  

Vella said it was time to take a deep look at the way people spoke to one another, particularly on social media.    

He was closing a conference on the state of the nation, organised by his office on Friday. 

Many, Vella said, were too quick to resort to hurtful remarks and this was something that was tearing away at the fabric of Maltese society.  

Vella, himself a former Labour politician, appealed to both Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition leader Bernard Grech - both of whom were at the conference - to help put a stop to politically motivated hate that was spewed on social media platforms such as Facebook.  

The president said tribalism would not help the country move forward. On the contrary, it held its people back. 

His remarks come as Malta appears to be edging towards a possible general election

Friday’s event saw clusters of four speakers discuss key topics in hour-long conversations steered by moderators.  

It followed a conference on national unity which the President held in February.  

At the start of Friday’s event, the results of a wide-ranging survey were published.

Piloted by statistician Vincent Marmara, the survey found that the vast majority of Maltese - almost 83 per cent - have always voted for the same political party. 

Just 17.3 per cent said they had sometimes voted for a different party. 

Grech and Abela's contrasting state of the nation views

After panels made up of academics, entrepreneurs, and artists weighed in on a variety of issues, it was time for Malta’s political leaders to take the stage.  

Opposition leader Bernard Grech and Prime Minister Robert Abela gave contrasting views on the state of the nation. 

As has become customary, Abela drew on the country's economic success which he said had helped weather the Coronavirus storm.  

He said his Labour administration was committed to improving institutions and enforcement and added that the state of the nation was intrinsically tied to people’s wellbeing.  

“Whether or not people are reaching and fulfilling their aspirations... that, to me, is what the state of the nation is about,” he said.  

In this spirit, Abela said he wanted to direct his efforts towards the fight against poverty, loneliness, and the digital divide. 

Grech on the other hand sounded a more sombre tone.  

In the Opposition’s view, the state of the nation was rather dimmer. The rot of criminality that the Labour administration had brought in had hollowed out many national institutions. 

Grech, speaking before Vella, also raised the issue of politics and social media, saying trolls, financed through the public purse were manufacturing consensus and drumming out real debate.   

He ended his address by asking who was truly Maltese: someone who purchased a Maltese passport, someone forced to live in a horse stable or someone who worked endless hours in low paying jobs? 

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