12 MARCH 2003

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Labour’s difficult uphill struggle

By Julian Manduca

Sunday’s referendum result should have been the cause for mass celebration for all those wanting Malta in the EU. The pro-EU gang did celebrate, but many of those supporting must have had a knot in their throat.
It was expected that celebrations would continue well into Monday, many parents did not send their children to school and shops in several areas remained closed.
In the event, the celebrations on Monday were relatively tame and the day passed off fairly normally, with the news of the election date coming as no surprise.
Alfred Sant’s reaction to the referendum was not unexpected, but it has forced EU hopers to start worrying about the election outcome.
There is no doubt that Sant’s decision to hold a mass meeting on Sunday and claim victory had tactical intentions. Sant has effectively pre-empted any possible attempt from within his party to challenge either his leadership or Labour’s stand on the EU.
That the referendum has pointed Malta in the direction of EU membership there is no doubt, but the election will be a different ball game and nobody active in politics will get a moments rest before 12 April.
Lino Spiteri has hypothesised that the referendum results would indicate support for the PN together with AD at 50.67 per cent, but his calculations assume that all the people who intend voting Nationalist on 12 April voted ‘yes’ in the referendum.
The big question mark remains as to how many Labour supporters did not vote. We know that Alfred Sant did not, and believe neither did Alfred Mifsud, but beyond that is anyone’s guess.
If Alfred Sant can produce some 19,500 referendum voting documents from Labour supporters he is in with a good chance. If not, he still has a big gap to bridge, always assuming those that voted ‘yes’ are determined to see Malta in the EU. Otherwise the Labour party has a big job on its hands. Bringing at least half 19,500 votes, (9,750 votes) to vote Labour is a massive task in these short weeks.
What may effectively seal Labour’s downfall would be a coalition agreement between the PN and AD. That arrangement would ensure that everybody that wants Malta in the EU but is not happy to vote for PN would be able to make his or her pro-EU vote effective through AD.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
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