Monday is day 29 of the general election campaign.
The day's key campaign trail developments were:
- The PN asked Electoral Commission to re-run voting for prisoners at CCF, following reports that ineligible people were allowed to vote.
- There were several reports of people with dementia being made to vote without their families' consent.
- The PN promises bonuses and higher wages for frontliners and public sector workers.
- Robert Abela again made a plea for people to get out and vote, saying he needed people to place their trust in him.
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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
Live blog ends
8.55pm This live blog will end here. We will be back tomorrow for more information from the 2022 general election campaign.
Grech targets Abela's 'power'
8.45pm It wasn’t just Abela who made a concerted pitch focused on getting out the vote: over in Gżira, Bernard Grech was delivering a similar message.
Judging by his choice of words, Grech appears to be resigned to placing second in Saturday’s contest: he urged people to vote in order to limit Abela’s power.
"We need to show Abela that he can no longer use his power to make millions. We must stand up to his arrogance, and we must show that it is no longer acceptable to allow him to continue doing what he does,” he said.
The PN event saw the party’s various district 10 candidates make their pitch to voters, with just days to go until the general election. Perhaps the most gripping of those speeches was Mark Anthony Sammut’s.
“It is not a choice between the lesser of two evils,” he said. “We are the better way forward. We are the only way forward. I am proud I am part of this party.”
Labour on the hunt in Gozo
8.14pm Robert Abela made yet another pitch to potentially disgruntled voters this evening, urging his Xagħra audience not to abstain in Saturday’s general election.
“The solution of staying home is not a solution at all. Let's discuss this country’s future,” he said.
“Let’s not take anything for granted,” Abela told Gozitan Labour supporters, adding that he needed them to lend him their trust.
Qala mayor Paul Buttigieg also addressed the crowd, saying Abela in government would ensure Ħondoq Bay remains unspoilt. Buttigieg has for years been leading the battle against development at the idyllic bay.
And we also heard from MEP Alex Agius Saliba, who used his speech to emphasise the Labour Party's hunting credentials -
The Labour government, the MEP said, had done everything possible to find ways to preserve what he described as “traditional pastimes”. A vote for Labour, he said, was a vote to ensure these practices remain here to stay.
Those pledges drew arguably the loudest applause of all from the Gozitan crowd.
Voting for hospital patients
7.24pm If you or a loved one has been admitted to Mater Dei Hospital, here’s some voting information for you: anyone admitted to MDH after 6pm this evening will be voting in their own town or village.
The exception is for anyone who tests positive to COVID-19. These patients, as reported last week, will vote at a special polling station set up right by the hospital.
Robert Abela in Gozo
7.10pm The Labour leader and prime minister is in Xagħra for tonight's Labour event.
Watch it in the video below.
Karol Aquilina forced into COVID quarantine
6.54pm PN candidate Karol Aquilina is going to have to run the rest of his electoral campaign virtually – the district 9 and 10 candidate has been forced into COVID-19 quarantine.
But that hasn't stopped him from campaigning, and he's just made a brief video appearance at the PN event in Gżira happening tonight.
PN wants prisoners to vote from scratch
7pm The PN has formally asked the electoral commission to re-run voting for prisoners at Corradino Correctional Facility, as reports trickle through of prisoners who were ineligible to vote nevertheless having done so.
The PN has blamed the issue on the court registrar, who apparently did not provide the electoral commission with an updated list of people given prison sentences longer than 12 months.
Bernard Grech in Gżira
6.51pm The PN leader is presenting his party's 10th district candidates to voters.
Watch it in the video below.
Where are the leaders tonight?
5.40pm Robert Abela will be speaking in Gozo, at a Labour event scheduled to begin at 6.30pm.
Bernard Grech will be in Gżira, to introduce the PN’s 10th district candidates. That event will also start at 6.30pm.
Labour and abortion
4.30pm The Labour Party has clarified that it is not proposing abortion, after a vaguely-worded clause in its electoral manifesto sparked concern among pro-life group.
The party issued its clarification in reply to questions by the pro-life LifeNetwork Foundation.
The foundation sent questions to the prime minister last week, asking for clarification of a pledge in the Labour electoral manifesto, which seemed to infer ambiguously to a Labour government introducing abortion rights. A group of doctors who campaign against abortion, Doctors for Life, also raised the issue over the weekend.
Under the subhead Sexual Health in all of its diversity, proposal 506 of Labour's electoral manifesto says that a Labour government will update the sexual health policy in the shortest possible time. The new policy 'will reflect today's realities with regards to health, sexual and reproductive rights, in all of their diversity'.
Malta's current sexual health policy is well over a decade old.
Silvio Schembri and Ivan Bartolo debate
3.09pm The fifth and final election debate organised by the Malta Chamber is being held.
Economy Minister Silvio Schembri will represent the Labour Party, with Nationalist Party candidate Ivan Bartolo arguing the other side. Chamber CEO Marthese Portelli will also take part.
The debate will cover the areas of Tourism, Manufacturing and Foreign Direct Investment, the Yachting sector, Gaming and Financial Services.
Watch it in the video below.
Voting at all costs?
2.21pm Reports about people with dementia voting without their families' knowledge keep piling up.
Earlier, we reported on Peppi Azzopardi's complaints to that effect.
Now we can reveal another similar case - a 72-year-old dementia patient was taken to vote, with staff at St Vincent de Paul not bothering to inform her family.
"My mother doesn't recognise us anymore and she cannot even tell the difference between Kinnie and a tea, let alone decide which of the candidates she wanted to vote for," her son Pawlu Mizzi said.
"How do they know whom she wanted to vote for? Did she really know what she was doing and who she was voting for?"
ADPD calls for strict animal breeding regulations
1.50pm ADPD has added its voice to that of BirdLife in calling for an end to spring hunting while urging for the strengthening of animal rights.
In a press conference in Marsascala, Mina Tolu, who is contesting the ninth and tenth district, flagged dog breeding malpractices and animal cruelty that made headlines over the past year.
She is calling for strict regulations that would among others stop those with pending court cases from breeding animals.
Who has more billboards?
1.15pm Grech has reiterated the party's promise to improve public sector salaries and provide allowances to frontline workers, health carers and educators while strengthening family-friendly measures.
However, when fielding questions from journalists, he replied to our reporter's question on the cost of the party's electoral campaigning with another question:
"Who has more billboards, TV ads and newspapers ads? Labour. Without a doubt, I can say that the PL is spending much more on online adverts, than what is being reported. But now we are used to this: Robert Abela has the power, the broadcasting authority and the money of the people.”
He ultimately did promise to report the expenses at the end of the campaign though.
Meanwhile, reacting to the Times of Malta and MaltaToday survey results about voters' intentions, Grech said the only survey that counted was that of March 26.
For a more detailed report about PN's conference, click here.
Should the number of visitors to Comino be capped?
12.20pm Following the hunters' endorsement of Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia and Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, BirdLife has come out with its own electoral requests.
These are its 10 asks:
- ERA should have a veto vote for any development proposed within 1km of ODZ sites and 3km of Natura 2000 site boundaries.
- Stronger conservation of natural habitats and biodiversity, including bird protection.
- Police's Environmental Protection Unit should focus solely on enforcing nature and biodiversity laws.
- End bird trapping.
- Stop spring hunting.
- Public land in Natura 2000 sites should be free from hunting while Qawra Point is declared a no-hunting zone.
- Green spaces within schools should be protected and untouched.
- Create nature reserves.
- Cap the number of visitors to Comino.
- Involve eNGOs in decision-making.
Robotics and vertical farming: Volt's pledges
12pm Volt, whose candidates are contesting districts eight, nine, 10 and 11 is pledging to diversify Malta's economic and research sectors by investing in:
- Vertical farming, which would bolster food security and increase production.
- Urban and community farming.
- An agritech business incubator in Gozo.
- A robotics industry to increase the productivity of existing industries.
First political press conference of the morning
11.40am Bernard Grech is set to address a press conference at the party's headquarters. Watch live here:
ADPD promises legal battle if it gets enough votes on national level
11.15am Social media has become rife with political ads, but a comic strip designed by ADPD candidate Mina Tolu makes for some interesting reading.
The green party is promising to kick off a legal battle if it garners enough support on a national, rather than a district level, to merit a seat. This, the party said, would ensure representation in parliament.
Final sprint to election day
10.45am The Broadcasting Authority has reminded us that its series of election-linked broadcasts will culminate in a debate between Abela and Grech on Wednesday.
Tune in on TVM and Radju Malta at 9pm on the day to follow what should be the last debate of the sort for this electoral campaign.
What is happening at SVPR? - Peppi Azzopardi
10.15am Over the weekend Peppi Azzopardi complained that his mother, who suffers from dementia, had been taken to a polling booth without her relatives' knowledge.
The St Vincent de Paule patient does not even recognise her own son, Azzopardi claimed on Facebook.
"Yesterday she was taken out of her ward to vote without the family’s consent.
"We are always informed about the tiniest of things, in almost every matter concerning her. This is how it should be.
"How could they have taken her to vote without us being informed? Can I know what’s going on?”
You have four days left to collect your vote
10.10am If you haven't yet collected your voting document, you can do so, in person, from the Naxxar electoral office, situated close to the counting hall. Those registered in Gozo can collect it from the ID card office in Francis Square, Victoria.
You can drop by today, tomorrow or Wednesday between 8am and 1pm, and 3pm and 9pm, or else on Thursday between 8am and 1pm, and 3pm and midnight.
Make sure to take your ID card with you.
There is also an option for those registered in Gozo who would like to collect the document from Malta and vice versa. However, they first need to send a request, as soon as possible, on firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you know who's contesting your district?
9.50am With just five days until you cast your ballot, do you know who's contesting your district? Our series might help you out with your decision:
We will be publishing more analyses of the districts in the coming hours.
9am According to two surveys published by independent media on Sunday, PL is set to win the election by at least a couple dozen thousand votes.
A survey commissioned by Times of Malta found that PL would win by a majority of 55.1% if an election were held tomorrow, with the Nationalist Party obtaining 43.5%. This could translate into a gap of 37,000 votes, however, a fifth of the respondents did not say who they would be voting for.
Meanwhile, MaltaToday poll results put the gap at 29,003 votes, up from 25,996 the previous week.
The gap in the 2017 election stood at 35,000.
What's on today?
8.30am So far, this is today's agenda:
At 6pm, veteran presenter Peppi Azzopardi will be interviewing independent candidate Arnold Cassola. You can follow the interview here.
PN leader Bernard Grech is set to meet party supporters in Triq Luqa Briffa, Gżira, at 6pm.
At 6.30pm, Robert Abela is being interviewed during a party event in Triq il-Mitħna, Xagħra.
Four days of campaigning left
8.10am Good morning and welcome to our first live blog of the fifth - and last - week of electoral campaigning.
Candidates have just four days of campaigning left - Friday is meant to be a day of silence, as voters 'reflect' on the choice they face the following day.
The cessation of electoral activity 24 hours before voting day is not a custom but the law.
According to the General Election Act of 1991, anyone convicted of breaching the ban is liable to a maximum fine of €1,164 and up to six months imprisonment.
But until then, they are free to campaign as much as they want.