this week: Labour Pains
Abela among favourites to lead Labour
Malta has taken one major step forward to strengthening its democracy
and aligning itself with the strongest economic bloc in the region.
With the Malta Labour Party now looking more likely to accept EU membership,
the possibility of finding convergence between all the political parties
on its foreign policy should be welcomed by all.
Malta needs stability, and a Labour Party still threatening to pull
Malta out of the EU would be the least desirable scenario imaginable.
The business community simply cannot afford more years of uncertainty.
We need to be able to look ahead with some certainty so that an atmosphere
suitable for attracting new investment can be created.
All of Malta awaits change within the Labour Party and looks forward
to having two large parties that can communicate with each other, if
not agree entirely on important issues.
The big question now is exactly what form new Labour will take. The
leadership race is on, and among the front runners expect to find Evarist
Bartolo, George Abela, John Attard Montalto, Marie Louise Coleiro, Jose
Herrera, Michael Falzon and Angelo Farrugia.
Evarist Bartolo and George Abela are probably considered the front runners,
but staking bets on Maltese leadership contests is a risky business.
George Abela is one of two on our list that is not a member of Parliament
and if chosen would not be the first Labour Party leader to come from
outside parliament in recent history.
Evarist Bartolo has a good mind and a clean track record, and may be
the kind of person Labour is looking for to attract middle class voters.
He did, however, stand by Alfred Sant through thick and thin and more
than anything else has not proved himself in terms of leadership qualities.
He may be a good right hand man to the next Labour leader.
In an opinion piece on our sister paper, MaltaToday, Abelas leadership
bid was called into question, especially because he failed to stand
up and be counted when he could have pointed the party in a different
Yesterday, however, a sizeable number of influential people contacted
us and we are encouraged to believe that Abela may just be the right
The Malta Financial and Business Times believes that Malta need to find
convergence on economic issues, in its direction vis a vis Europe, as
well as in fiscal matters.
That Labour requires an overhaul is undisputed and someone coming from
the outside may well be better positioned to make the right decisions.
It is not just the top men that need to be changed, but the positions
of Secretary General and Party President should also be put on the line.
George Abela may be the person who could live up to all the challenges
the Malta Labour Party faces, and while all the other contenders have
their plus points they all come with some baggage.
The Nationalist Party in government faces some considerable challenges
of its own more of an uphill battle really.
There is the Acquis Communitaire that has to be adopted in its entirety
no mean task, and this Nationalist administration will be called
on to deliver in all those areas that it did not over the past five
years, especially tackling the budget deficit, restoring business confidence,
and improving public administration, the environment and roads. Electoral
reform and pension reform will also be essential and the PN will also
be called on to tackle all the other issues that have been ignored.
With a more reasonable Opposition it is possible that some progress
will be registered, but a party in what can be considered its fourth
term in office will never be at its best.
In the long term interests of the nation and democracy it is essential
that we have a Labour Party ready and deserving of taking power in five
years time. The General Conference due in three or four weeks
time will be the first indicator of what we can expect.