Updated 4.12pm with PN reaction below -

The Nationalist Party has already lost a third of local councils in Malta and Gozo, ahead of next month’s election, after failing to field enough candidates, the Labour Party said on Tuesday.

In a press conference, the PL this afternoon said that the PN had fielded 100 less candidates than the PL for the upcoming election in May.

Labour has put forward 399 candidates while the PN presented 296.

This meant that that PN had already forfeited winning 21 of the 68 local councils across the archipelago, the PL said.

Party president Daniel Micallef said the PN was trying to play an electoral “game”.

Read: PN councillors pressured to pledge loyalty to Delia

"Not a single Sunday passes without the PN preaching about democracy. But with the first electoral appointment coming up in a few weeks, the PN is trying to play around with democracy," he said. 

The PN, he added, was trying to ensure that there were no elections in certain localities.

Had it not been for the PL fielding more than enough candidates, certain localities would have ended up without an election, he said.

“It is clear the PN does not believe in local councils any more, if it ever did,” he said.

Deputy leader for party affairs Chris Cardona said it was clear that the PN’s current situation was resulting in the party’s own supporters no longer having any faith in its direction or leadership.

“There are people feeling very disillusioned within the Nationalist Party today,” he said.

Illustrating his point, Dr Cardona, who is also Economy Minister, said two localities in Gozo (Għarb and Żebbuġ) had PN mayors who were this year running as independent candidates rather than on a blue ticket.

In 13 localities across the archipelago, the PN was only running the same number of current councillors, failing to put forward a single more. The PL on the other hand had increased its number of candidates by some 26.

“This is turning the election into a child’s game,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne concluded the press conference, saying the PN wanted voters to stay at home come election day.

This was not in the interest of the nationalist party, nor was it in the interest of democracy, the electorate, or the country, he said. 

There have been instances in the past where elections were not held in certain localities because not enough candidates, or the exact number of candidates needed, submitted their nomination.

PN reacts - Labour has also not fielded enough candidates in some localities

In a reaction, the Nationalist Party observed that the Labour Party had fielded an insufficient number of candidates for the elections in some localities, and it was only thanks to the PN candidatures that there were enough candidates for elections to be be held.

The PN said the PL could not preach about democracy in local government when it had cancelled elections for 16 administrative committees for outlying areas  - (Fleur-de-Lys in Birkirkara, Santa Luċija in Kerċem, Gwardamanġa in Pietà, Paceville in St Julian's,  Kappara in San Ġwann, Madliena in Swieqi, Marsalforn in Żebbuġ, Bubaqra in Żurrieq,  Xlendi in Munxar, Tal-Virtù in Rabat, Ħal Farruġ in Luqa, St Peter's in Żabbar, Swatar in Birkirkara and Msida, Burmarrad in St Paul's Bay, Baħrija in Rabat and Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq in Naxxar.

Local council elections were also cancelled by the government two years ago.

The PN also pointed out that while 197 local councillors were elected on its ticket in the last elections, the number of its candidates was now almost 100 more.  



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