Here's a roundup of the day's other key electoral events.
- Labour fleshed out its tax proposals.
- The PN said it would make all school fees tax-deductible.
- Outgoing PN MP Mario Galea said people in the party made his life "hell" and that it is not true that he was asked to step aside.
- Bernard Grech did not rule out more PN old hands withdrawing from seeking re-election.
- Robert Abela would not say if his predecessor Joseph Muscat would make an appearance on the campaign trail.
- ADPD launched its electoral campaign, under the slogan ‘Green sweeps clean’.
- A poll by statistician Vincent Marmarà found a 22.2% gap in people’s trust between Abela and Grech.
Read the day one live blog.
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As it happened
Live blog ends
8.45pm That's all from us today. We'll be back tomorrow to give you more 2022 election updates, as they happen. Thank you for having joined us.
Rosianne Cutajar's pledge of loyalty
8.30pm Rosianne Cutajar lost her place in cabinet last year after she was caught in an ethical breach involving a property deal with Yorgen Fenech.
But no hard feelings, she was keen to emphasise earlier this evening.
"We will not abandon you," she told Abela. "We will defend you when attacked by the PN. We will be there for you, prime minister, because we trust you."
Trees bigger than the Central Link
8.10pm Labour has released mock-up images to illustrate how its €700m investment in urban green spaces would transform local towns and villages.
Judging by the enormous size of some of the trees in these renders, a good chunk of change is going to be spent on some out-of-this-world fertilizers.
Or perhaps the party's architect is rusty when it comes to designing trees and shrubbery.
Fearne applauds marina decision
8pm It was Chris Fearne's statement against the Marsascala marina plans that seemed to spark concern about the project within the Labour camp. Here he is, welcoming this evening's decision.
Bernard Grech and party regeneration
7.30pm Back to St Julian’s, where the PN held its evening event.
Grech spoke about regenerating the party, one day after four MPs said they would not be seeking re-election.
“When I became leader I promised to unite the party, and that is what I have done. The PN is now a united political force working in one direction to be an alternative government, if the people so choose,” he said.
Life, he said, was about regeneration, while greeting former ministers Louis Galea and Francis Zammit Dimech, both former PN general secretaries.
Grech also spared a couple of words for the decision to scrap the Marsascala marina project.
He welcomed the decision, which he attributed to PN and civil society pressure, but said the government should now promise not to revive the marina project after the election or to “replace it with something worse”.
A '100 days' pledge
7.08pm Here's our full take on Robert Abela's announcement that the marina project has been stopped.
The PM also made a couple of other pledges here:
- Żonqor Point land that was earmarked for the American University of Malta will return to the people within his first 100 days.
- Work to shut down the Sant Antnin recycling plant will free up 20,000 square metres of open space for the public.
Marina plans scrapped
6.55pm The Marsascala marina project will not happen, Robert Abela has said.
Abela says a decision has been taken to "stop the project immediately", after widespread scepticism among locals.
That's a major victory for activists who have been campaigning against the plans ever since it came to light last summer.
PL leader speaks
6.45pm Prime Minister and Labour leader Robert Abela is speaking at a PL event in Marsascala.
Watch it in the video below.
Abela in Marsascala
6.41pm As the PN event progresses in St Julian's - the audience there is hearing about the rising cost of living - a Labour event on the other end of the country, in Marsascala, will soon get under way.
Here's a video of Robert Abela arriving at the event, as what sounds like the B-side of the Braveheart soundtrack plays in the background.
A greylisting 'djalogu'
6.35pm The PN event – named a ‘Djalogu’, in nod to the Eddie Fenech Adami years - is focused on the impacts of the FATF greylisting, with Grech saying the government has “given up” on solving the issue and professionals working in impacted sectors paying the price.
"It will be the first problem I solve as prime minister," he says.
Bernard Grech speaks in St Julian's
6.20pm PN leader Bernard Grech is in St Julian’s tonight.
Follow it in the video below – he should be speaking any minute now.
Marmarà poll finds big gap in trust
6.04pm Pollster Vincent Marmarà has run a survey focused on the leaders’ trust ratings.
He’s found a 22.2% gap between Robert Abela and Bernard Grech, with the Labour leader cited as the best leader for Malta by 52.9% of respondents, versus 30.7% for Grech. Leaders of other parties polled 2.6%, 8.4% said they don’t trust any political leader and 5.4% said they just don’t know.
Marmarà surveyed 750 people aged 16 and up, and he says his poll has a confidence level of 95% with a +/- margin of error of 3.6%.
ADPD's shoestring campaign
5.52pm Malta’s green party has officially launched its 2022 electoral campaign, under the slogan ‘Green Sweeps Clean’.
And it's doing it on a shoestring budget: the ADPD revealed that it got by on just €2,600 in donations last year. To put that figure into perspective, consider this: the PN raised €343,000 in just one fundraiser last October, while Labour banked €668,000 one month earlier.
ADPD said it won’t be asking supporters for donations, though, and will be ticking by with the little it has. “The party has no loans or overdrafts. Nor do we have access to commercial companies which serve as a hiding place for the receipt of illegal donations.”
Labouring the point
5.34pm Last night, the Labour Party put up billboards focusing on discord within the PN. This afternoon, they held a press conference purely to press that point.
Now, they’ve released a campaign video that’s all about that issue. It’s titled “They divided a party. Don’t let them divide a country” and it's as menacing as you can imagine a video with that title would be.
Collecting voting documents
4.57pm If you live in Gozo but plan on collecting your voting document in Malta or vice-versa, you’ll need to plan ahead.
Such voters have until 6pm on Thursday, March 24 to submit their request (in writing) to collect their voting document on the sister island. Requests can be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once your request has been approved, you’ll need to collect your voting document in person from the Naxxar counting hall or the ID cards office in Victoria.
Collection will be open between March 21 and 24 and you will need to be physically present as well as show your ID/residence card.
Galdes and Muscat's pet projects
4.40pm Earlier, we noted that Roderick Galdes and Alex Muscat announced government investments this morning, and asked whether electoral candidates should be unveiling public projects during election season.
One thing we didn't note, and which makes the matter somewhat more egregious, is that the projects they announced will take place almost entirely in their own constituencies.
Investments will be made in Attard, Kalkara, Qormi, Mosta and Siġġiewi.
Attard and Mosta are part of Muscat's electoral district (11th).
Qormi and Siġġiewi are parts of Galdes' (6th).
PN's Gozo team
4.30pm It appears the PN intends to run six candidates in the 13th district, judging by this photo posted by party old hand Chris Said.
Four of those six are current MPs, making for a tight race. And one of those four is Joe Ellis, who has faced a rocky few weeks, following reports that he asked parliamentary questions about a roads project that his family business was allegedly involved in.
Party leader Bernard Grech has said that for him, the matter is "case closed".
Public funds, private incentives
3.50pm Roderick Galdes and Alex Muscat held a joint press conference on Tuesday morning, in which they announced plans to develop green spaces next to social accommodation in various towns, using €1.5 million in funds raised through the sale of Maltese passports and Maltese residency permits.
You can watch it in the video below.
Both Galdes and Muscat are cabinet members who are running for reelection as Labour MPs.
The press conference prompts an ethical question. Should a government (and especially the ruling party’s candidates) be allowed to announce new public projects during an electoral campaign?
'They divided a party, do not let them divide the country'
3pm Labour has continued its ‘divided’ offensive against the Nationalist Party, saying a split party cannot be trusted with uniting a country.
The party unleashed its whip Glenn Bedingfield to hammer home that message this afternoon, in a press conference that served little other purpose.
“Bernard Grech is running a divided party, one that should not be trusted to run the country. If he is given the vote, this internal divide will spread throughout the country and the population will suffer,” Bedingfield said.
“Could you imagine these people running the country? One person saying this, the other saying that? All pulling the rope differently and not together?” he asked.
The district 1 MP was flanked by new PL candidate Amanda Spiteri Grech, a lawyer who will run on districts 2 and 4.
Here's the press conference in full.
Teachers’ union not happy about voting in schools
2.30pm The Malta Union of Teachers has told the Education Ministry that any reconfiguration of schools to turn them into voting venues will breach COVID-19 protocols.
Public school buildings are generally used as voting centres during general elections, which are always held on Saturdays.
But the MUT says that classrooms are currently all being used and has warned the government that “irrespective of election requirements, it shall not accept that educators work in classrooms when protocols cannot be observed.”
The union is also concerned that schools will not be properly sanitised between voting on Saturday, March 26 and schools reopening to students on the following Monday.
2.07pm Where does Labour stand on the Marsascala marina project?
The answer: who knows?
Owen Bonnici has now said that he’s dead-set against the marina proposal in its current form, telling Labour TV station ONE “I absolutely do not agree with the Marsascala marina plans published during summer.”
He’s the second minister, after deputy prime minister Chris Fearne, to criticise the current plans.
Fearne’s statement last week appears to have put the cat among the Labour pigeons: both Ian Borg and Robert Abela have since said they “agree” with Fearne, without actually saying what they actually think.
What's on the agenda tonight?
1.55pm Apart from ADPD launching its campaign at 5pm, election junkies can look forward to Bernard Grech speaking in PN stronghold St Julian’s (6pm) and Robert Abela addressing an audience in his adopted hometown Marsascala at 6.30pm.
Abela’s event could be especially spicy, given the controversy surrounding Labour’s marina plans. Labour Party pollsters have been calling residents to see what they make of the proposal, which has attracted some vociferous criticism.
Will other PN MPs be leaving?
1.35pm Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech paid our newsroom a courtesy visit this morning, and the question on our journalists’ lips was: will other PN MPs be quitting?
Grech’s reply was anything but categorical. Read the full story.
ADPD to launch its campaign
1.22pm The ADPD will be officially launching its electoral campaign this afternoon, with an event scheduled to take place at 5pm. More from that as we get it.
Divided party? What divided party?
12.50pm The PN bid four of its MPs farewell on Monday, prompting Labour to deride it as a "divided" party.
Bernard Grech has batted away that suggestion - despite outgoing MP Mario Galea's outburst on Tuesday - and in comments on NET TV downplayed concerns about a party rift.
Grech quipped that he was off to a meeting with Claudio Grech to put the finishing touches on the party’s electoral manifesto. He said Grech - one of those four outgoing MPs - still has a lot to give to the PN.
The PN leader was speaking on NET show Qalb il-Familija. You can watch the entire show in the video below.
PN promises tax-deductible school fees
12.30pm The PN is targeting parents who send their children to private schools, it appears.
Party leader Bernard Grech has said that the party would make school fees, sports fees and extracurricular expenses tax-deductible, according to a PN statement.
The PN is also proposing a €300 yearly payout to parents whose children take part in extracurricular sport, culture, art or performing arts activities that adhere to ESG (that's Environmental, Social, and Governance) principles.
'They made my life hell' - Mario Galea
11.40am The veteran Nationalist MP Mario Galea has spoken out about why he is not contesting the next general election. And it is not as rosy as the party has made it out to be.
He says he was stigmatised by two PN officials in particular and that "they made my life hell".
Will we see Joseph Muscat on the campaign trail?
11.08am We've seen a lot more of him lately - after his home was searched by police investigating allegations of corruption. But will we see former prime minister Joseph Muscat appearing at one of Robert Abela's rallies this election campaign?
Abela was asked that question repeatedly at Labour's news conference this morning and he repeatedly refused to answer.
Instead he said only that he does not “throw away” anybody, making a dig at the Nationalist Party, who he said seem to have discarded Mario Galea, one of four PN MPs to step aside yesterday.
‘Don’t vote for Varist so he can retire’
10.50am Veteran MP and Labour minister Evarist Bartolo shared an anecdote by his six-year-old grand-daughter who would like him to step down from parliament so he can spend more quality time with her.
In a Facebook post, Bartolo spoke of the girl's spontaneous 'protest' at her home on grounds that she would like spend more time with her grandfather playing games. But Bartolo, aged 69, says he has no intention of stepping down. The foreign minister was first elected to parliament in 1992.
Labour pledges fewer taxes
10.38am During a news conference, Prime Minister Robert Abela pledged a series of tax cuts. The main highlights were:
- A Labour government will be able to reduce income tax and raise the country’s GDP from €14 billion to €20 billion within the next legislature.
- Parents will not pay income tax on the first €12,200, up from the current €10,500.
- Single people will not pay income tax on the first €10,800, up from the current €9,100.
- Married couples will not pay income tax on the first €14,400, up from the current €12,700.
- Families will be paying at least €255 per year less in income tax.
- A Labour government will also reduce corporate tax for businesses. Businesses will pay 25% tax instead of 35% tax on their first €250,000 profit. This means that a business that makes €250,000 in profits will pay €25,000 less in corporate tax.
Robert Abela press conference
10.15am The prime minister is addressing the media at the Rialto in Cospicua. Watch the event here. We'll be bringing you a more detailed report shortly.
8.30am We start the day with the launch of independent candidate Arnold Cassola's campaign video.
Cassola will be contesting the 10th and 11th districts. Under the slogan 'We deserve better', the former Alternattiva chairperson presented the three major pillars on which his campaign will be centred.
These are the need for:
- A clean environment, for a better quality of life;
- Clean politics, where politicians are transparent and open to scrutiny; and
- A caring society, where the focus is on the neediest.
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