Bread and butter issues clearly remained important to people, sociologist Michael Briguglio told the Times of Malta with regard to the election result.
Dr Briguglio, who threw his weight behind the Nationalist Party’s anti-corruption campaign, said that, although a Labour Party victory was likely, he personally did not expect the majority to be so large.
Noting it was difficult to make a comprehensive analysis of the result at this early stage, Dr Briguglio said Labour’s package had clearly been more convincing. The PL had delivered in areas like civil liberties and social policy, he said.
“Whether they were right or wrong, Labour was making key decisions on various issues where the PN was slower and perhaps more cautious”, Dr Briguglio said.
He said the message put forward by the PN could have been perceived as being too negative, adding that Labour had clearly used its power of incumbency to micro-target voters.
Another factor was the different leadership styles of Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil. Southern European countries preferred strong leaders who did not necessarily abide by good governance norms, Dr Briguglio said.
Such leaders were preferred over soft-spoken ones who were more attuned to the European continental style of politics, he pointed out.
Asked whether the independent media had got it wrong by continuing to highlight government corruption, Dr Briguglio said the media had a duty to be vocal about good governance.
“The media has its role but it does not mean people simply follow what the media says. The media does not dictate people ideas. People interpret what the media says in different ways”, Dr Briguglio said.
Former Nationalist MEP candidate Jonathan Shaw said the social media echo chamber played a part in giving the PN a false sense of security.
Mr Shaw, who was active in the PN’s election campaign, said people on social media wrongly felt they were connected to the country’s pulse, when, in fact, they ended up disconnected from reality.
He said many people ended with a false sense of security because they were only seeing what they wanted to see on social media.
In his view, the PN now had to take stock to understand the way forward.
In a video address, Democratic Party (PD) leader Marlene Farrugia said her party’s journey had just started.
Whether PD candidates were elected or not, she said she would continue to fight for good governance, accusing the Labour government of using its power of incumbency to buy off people.
“If this government bought everyone using tax money, we cannot blame the people for having been blinded and having believed Muscat”, Dr Farrugia said.