Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reframed the forthcoming European Parliament elections as a choice between himself and Opposition leader Adrian Delia during his party’s first campaign event on Monday.
Dr Muscat insisted that while his counterpart argued that the election was not a choice between parties but MEP candidates, voters would in fact be choosing between the two party leaders.
“I have full faith in each of our candidates, so I am putting my name alongside theirs,” he said during an interview at the Labour Party event in Marsa.
In the wide-ranging interview, the Prime Minister also took aim at the Opposition’s stance on migration, referring specifically to images circulated by the PN accusing the government of having “filled Malta with foreigners” (fqajtu Malta bil-barranin).
“This is the rhetoric of far-right parties,” he said, arguing that the PN was contradicting itself by stoking these fears while at the same time proposing in its electoral manifesto that Malta could become what he called a “centre for migration”.
He said the government had been clear that Malta could not bear the burden of irregular migration alone, and that while Malta was ready to be “part of the solution”, it could not itself be the solution.
We can draw together a group of countries willing to help each other
“We can draw together a group of countries willing to help each other,” he said. “We will give help where it is required, but we can’t bear all Europe’s burden.”
In a statement in response, the PN said its representatives at the European Parliament had negotiated and approved a law aimed at strengthening the EU's borders, and that its manifesto included clear proposals to overcome the challenge of migration in full cooperation with other European countries.
"The PN was and remains in favour of fundamental human rights, particularly the protection of a person's life and dignity, irrespective of who the person is," the party said.
Dr Muscat, meanwhile, also continued to drip-feed information about the previously-announced ‘open spaces project’, saying that the land identified for the project - which he did not provide details on - could have instead been used for a factory development that would have generated millions in income.
“We are already doing a lot for the economy; it is now time to start shifting the scales back towards giving people more free time and open space,” he said.
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