Referendum footsie, Sant can
play it good
Strong indications from Opposition Leader Alfred Sant indicate that
the referendum result will fall prey to his dilly-dallying unless it
suits his fancy. Just a fortnight away from the plebiscite, and Sant
is still biding his time on whether the Malta Labour Party will be respecting
the outcome of the 8 March.
It was during a televised Broadcasting Authority press conference earlier
this week, discussing the theme "Partnership l-ahjar ghazla,"
(Partnership the best choice) that Dr Alfred Sant peddled a fresh
new perspective on the referendum result.
Asked by our sister paper MaltaToday on Sunday whether he would be ignoring
the referendum result if a majority vote against EU membership, Sant
replied that he will be "waiting until the end of the referendum
to then interpret the result."
His answer is either anti-democratic or shrewd power play. Weighing
off any committal to the referendum, of which the Labour Party itself
has invited its supporters to vote no, Sant did not answer
whether he would respect a no vote in the referendum.
His wait-and-see tactic makes good for referendum dilly-dallying. Sants
"interpretation" quip aims at giving him ample room to not
commit himself to the outcome of the referendum unless its suits his
This leaves Sant the prerogative to play his general election card if
a positive vote for EU membership gives Government the green light on
the eventful Saturday.
With a majority voting against EU membership however, Sant would be
allowed to passively ignore the result, safe in the knowledge of a possible
Labour victory in the general elections.
Sants trifling with the referendum outcome stands diametrically
opposed to Deputy Leader George Vellas clear outlook on the result.
Earlier last week, Dr Vella told The Sunday Times during an interview
it will be an absolute majority to decide the outcome of the referendum:
"If one wants to prove to me that the majority of people are in
favour of EU membership, I would expect to see 50 per cent plus one
of all eligible voters voting Yes with the exclusion of that
very small percentage who never vote."
With the General Workers Union also in favour of a referendum, it seems
it will only be at the eleventh hour that the Opposition Leaders
reaction to the results will be known.
Sant has already gone on record saying a consultative referendum can
only bind the administration that is sanctioning it, arguing that only
a general election can truly reflect the will of the people. In recent
weeks, he has called the EU referendum a "fake" referendum,
reiterating his accusation during last Sundays Broadcasting Authority