Thursday was the 18th day of the electoral campaign. It was characterised by the first leaders' debate, but it was also unfortunately thin on news. See below what happened on the campaign trail throughout the day.
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What happened today on the campaign trail
9.23 pm. This live blog will end here. We'll be back tomorrow for more updates from the 2022 general election campaign.
Here’s a summary of the day’s most salient events:
• The leaders of the parties fielding candidates in all the electoral districts held a two-hour debate at the University. It was a rowdy affair, characterised by the chanting of rival slogans by the students present.
• A debate for women candidates was also held on Thursday. It was organised by BPW Valletta.
• PN leader Bernard Grech suggested that the electoral campaign be suspended on Saturday for a peace march in solidarity with Ukraine. His suggestion, during the leaders’ debate, did not draw a reaction.
Clyde Caruana warns about the Ukraine war's impact
9.20pm - Speaking during the Rabat event, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana warns that the Ukraine – Russia war is not just a battle involving bombs and tanks. “This is an economic war. All this has an impact on us too. Oil and cereal prices have all risen. I am not trying to raise fear. We as a Labour Party are here to offer certainty,” Caruana said. He assured that just as the government had protected lives and livelihoods during the COVID-19 pandemic, it would continue protecting people livelihoods during the fallout from the war.
Lydia Abela headlines Labour event
8.30pm Lydia Abela is standing in for her husband at an activity for young people which the Labour Party is holding just outside Mdina. The prime minister is attending an EU leaders' meeting in France. Abela urges her listeners to follow their dreams and says a Labour government will support them all the way.
Konrad Mizzi will be back before PAC
7.17pm - Beppe Fenech Adami, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, tells the PN event in Gharghur that the PN will insist once more in the new legislature that former minister Konrad Mizzi answer questions about the Electrogas power station before the Public Accounts Committee. The committee had a difficult task to wring answers from Mizzi in the past few months.
PN 'meet the candidates' event in Gharghur
7.15pm - There's a long list of candidates at the Meet the Candidates event being held by the PN in Gharghur. It's unseasonably cold up there this evening. Party leader Bernard Grech will also make an appearance.
PN changes venue of Sunday's rally
7.06pm - The Nationalist Party has changed the venue of its rally on Sunday afternoon from the Fgura main street to the sports pavilion in Corradino. The decision was taken because the weather forecast does not look good.
Evening events get underway
7pm - The evening political events are underway.
Labour is hosting an edition of its Awla discussion programme in Pembroke but Robert Abela is away at an EU summit meeting in Versailles. The main speaker instead is party president Ramona Attard. She says that Thurday's leaders’ debate highlighted the key difference between Robert Abela and Bernard Grech, saying that while the Prime Minister came off as prepared, Grech was not.“He cannot tell us how much his electoral manifesto is going to cost, a question one would assume to be quite basic,” she said.
Suspend campaign for a day for peace, Grech appeals
4.40pm He might have been loudly jeered, but Bernard Grech thanked the students who participated in the leaders' debate.
In a Facebook post, he said he wished that Robert Abela would share one idea which would generate wealth rather than piling on costs.
He also reiterated his appeal to suspend the electoral campaign for a day to unite for a walk in favour of peace in Europe.
4.20pm After the leaders' debate at university, the two main parties will continue with their campaigning: The Labour Party will be hosting an event in Pembroke while the Nationalist Party will be rallying its supporters in Għargħur.
It will not be Robert Abela addressing the PL's event though. He will be attending another summit in Brussels.
Women candidates take centre stage
2.45pm The leaders' debate is over. But here's another one taking place among women candidates. Organised by BPW Valletta, take part are Cressida Galea and Rebecca Buttigieg for the Labour Party, Eve Borg Bonello and Francine Farrugia for the Nationalist Party and Melissa Bagley from ADPD.
Unable to wait in the queue? Read this
2.25pm The Electoral Commission has issued a statement in connection with certificates for persons who are unable to wait in the queue.
- On the day of the poll, persons who are over 75 years and stretcher cases from hospitals and other old persons’ institutions, will be allowed to avoid queuing at all times during the poll without the need of a medical certificate.
- Persons aged between 60 and 75 years old shall be allowed to jump the queue from 1pm to 5pm .
- All other persons who are sick and unable to wait in the queue must present a medical certificate to avoid the queue, which will be permitted after 1pm. Persons presenting a special identity card issued by the National Commission for Persons with Disability will be granted the same facility without the need of a medical certificate.
- The Electoral Commission shall receive applications at its office at the ex-Trade Fair Grounds, Naxxar, from medical officers who are not contesting the elections for the issue of official forms which serve as a medical certificate so that sick persons can be allowed to jump the queue during the poll within the hours specified above.
- Every medical officer who applies shall be given a number of forms on which the medical certificate is to be issued and the number of these forms may be increased as necessary.
Leaders’ debate at university
11.59pm Today’s leaders' debate at the university is on.
Follow our dedicated live blog about the event and the proceedings in the video below.
Another debate... this time among women candidates
10.51am Another debate will be taking place today, among women candidates. The debate, organised by BPW Valletta, will start at 2.30pm. Taking part will be Cressida Galea and Rebecca Buttigieg for the Labour Party, Eve Borg Bonello and Francine Farrugia for the Nationalist Party and Melissa Bagley from ADPD.
The event, at the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre in Ta' Qali, will be broadcast live on Facebook.
Broadcasting Authority broadcasts
10.16am The Broadcasting Authority said four independent candidates will be interviewed on the national station on Saturday. They are Noel Apap, Nazzareno Bonnici, Arnold Cassola and Jane Chircop.
The BA said the candidates will be interviewed on their proposals for the election. It will be broadcast on TVM and Radio Malta at 8.45pm.
Ukraine war impact bigger than COVID - minister
9.40am Finance Minister Clyde Caruana says he is more worried about the economic impact of the Ukraine war than COVID-19.
Speaking during a debate at the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Caruana said the Ukraine war is taking over the election campaign. And his warnings are stark:
“This is not just a war with bombs, but it is an economic war and its impact will not be small. We have to do whatever it takes to save our economy,” he said.
"We have to do whatever it takes to save our economy. I am aware of the massive hit caused by the war. €200 million was allocated in the Budget because of COVID. We are estimating that one week of war will cost us €200 million.
"The increases are happening in a way that has never happened before. I am not saying this to scare people. We are monitoring the situation because it is a serious one."
However, the minister pledged that utility bills and fuel prices will remain unchanged throughout this year.
We'll bring you a full report soon. Meanwhile, watch the event live here:
Cassola to do it his way
9.15am Arnold Cassola expressed frustration on Facebook that he has not been invited to today's university debate.
"It is sad that the KSU has succumbed to the usual crap logic of giving a strong voice only to the ones in power... No worries: tune into my Facebook page between 12.15 and 13.15 today. I will also be taking part in the debate. My way," he said.
Green party warns Marsascala residents
9.05am In another statement, ADPD said it appears that PL donors are behind the "massive" expansion of a petrol station in Marsascala.
Approval has been given for the expansion of a fuel station which will double in size. In 2019, residents had raised objections to the station expansion across the road from the Family Park, a favourite area of relaxation for people in the south.
The Environment and Planning Tribunal approved an additional 1,200 square metres of agricultural land to include an enlarged retail outlet, larger offices, four large garages, including a VRT centre, panel beating and mechanic services as well as a larger area next to a previously approved car wash.
Both the Planning Authority as well as ERA had objected to this expansion. Read more here.
ADPD to boycott Broadcasting Authority debates
9am ADPD has written to the Broadcasting Authority saying it will not be taking part in the political broadcasts.
In a letter to the authority, it pointed out that the schedule favoured the big parties which devoured nearly all the time on the national station, when they had their own stations which were not accessible to others.
In view of this, it felt it would be useless to accept the BA’s invitation, it said.
PL Żabbar tent removed
8.45am Residents of Żabbar have alerted us that the Labour Party has finally dismantled a tent in Mediatrix Place, which has been blamed for causing traffic chaos.
They said the tent, which was used to host a party activity, was blocking a main road artery of the town and the main route to and from Xgħajra, providing an obstacle even for buses.
How many passports did Abela sell to Russians? - Cassola
8.35am Independent candidate Arnold Cassola has issued a statement asking the Prime Minister to come clean about the sale of Maltese citizenship.
He refers to this article in Times of Malta and asks why the silence from Maltese politicians who sold Maltese citizenship, maybe even to Russians. These included Robert Abela's law firm, he notes.
"How many citizenships did the Prime Minister sell to Russian oligarchs?" Cassola asks.
8.30am Good morning and welcome to our live blog.
For the first time in the electoral campaign, Prime Minister Robert Abela and Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech will be going head-to-head in a live debate at the university.
We will be giving you a live stream of the debate later and will also be blogging on it here. The debate will be held at Sir Temi Zammit Hall.
Some 550 people are expected to attend.
Read all you need to know about the debate here.