3 – 9 January 2001

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European Union promises to dominate 2001 political agenda

The European Union promises to dominate next year’s political scenario.
Indeed, both political leaders have clearly indicated that the European Union will be a top priority issue. Dr Sant even went as far as to mention the issue to the President of the Republic, Prof Guido DeMarco.
It is a do or die situation for both political leaders, but the year 2001 will determine which direction the electorate chooses to take the plunges and vote for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in Europe in 2002.
If Dr Sant loses the referendum there is clear evidence that he will consider leaving his leadership post. But the same fate lies in wait for Prime Minister Dr Fenech Adami.
The government, which is pushing the European Union accession drive, has a clear advantage over the ‘no’ campaign. The PN government succeeded in being returned to power after only two years of Labour government under Dr Sant’s premiership.
And though many within Dr Sant’s immediate entourage are fiercely against membership, the periphery are not as sceptical nor europhobic.
The greatest asset to the europhile campaign is the sheer impossibility of retracting Malta’s political intentions of European Union membership. This would be the second time in four years and would simply land Malta’s image in an impossible rut.
The European Union question is currently debated by two lobbies, one is the CNI group which is led by the former Labour Prime Minister Dr Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici and the other is IVA ghall-Ewropa.
But until now, the yes and no campaign has not targeted the floating electorate who will determine which way Malta will finally go when the referendum is called.
Strangely, the referendum, which has no legal framework was promised by the Nationalists in opposition.
But as one Nationalist senior official said: "There was no need to promise a referendum before the last election, but we simply did it … that was perhaps a mistake."

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt