The Third Parties. Who are they?

Although the voting system in Malta is somewhat favourable for the creation of a multi-party-political scene in Malta, for several decades, even before our independence, two parties have held an absolute majority within Parliament, the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party. The Democratic Alternative Party (now AD+PD) was also present since its split from the Labour Party in 1989, however, they were never any real threat to the present bi-party system.

This slowly started to change in 2008 general election, which had the longest ballot sheet in local politics, with parties such as National Action, Imperium Europa, Gozitan Party, Alpha Liberal Democrats and Forward Malta throwing their hat in the ring. None of these, barring the right-wing National Action Party, got more than 100 votes, and none ever attempted to run in a general action again.

Regardless of their failures, this election marked a turning point for the future of third parties in Malta.

2013 was a heavily contested election, and therefore less new parties than 2008, with only the Liberal Alliance and Partit tal-Ajkla (Ajkla Party) registering for the election. Once again, these parties got less than 100 votes.

The 2017 election also saw three newly created parties competing, with Moviment Patrijotti Maltin and Alleanza Bidla receiving 1117 and 221 votes respectively.

This election was also the first time a major party formed an electoral alliance. This alliance was called “Forza Nazzjonali”, combining the Nationalist Party with the newly formed Democratic Party/Partit Demokratiku (now part of AD+PD). This alliance resulted in PD winning two seats in the election, the first time a third party has ever held seats in parliament since independence.

Unfortunately for them, this was not to last, as both members who held these seats resigned from the party and became independent MPs of parliament.

We now come to the present, with even more newly created parties forging a path for themselves in the election.

But, who are they?

ABBA

ABBA, unrelated to the popular 70s Swedish pop band, is a newly formed political party headed by Ivan Grech Mintoff, who was also the leader of Alleanza Bidla and the Secretary-General Matthew Grech, the “ex-gay” man who claimed to have cured his own homosexuality. Romina Magro acts as the treasurer for the party.

ABBA sees itself as a catalyst for change, wishing for coalition governments rather than the current single parties in government, and the bi-party system in large. The party is also Eurosceptic, similar to Grech Mintoff’s old Alleanza Bidla Party.

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The party first became known in the mainstream before it was even officially registered. Since ABBA, or Abba, is the full name of the party, the Electoral Commission (the commission in charge of the registration of parties) had an issue with the lack of a shorthand name for the party (such as PL being the shorthand for ‘Partit Laburista’). The commission stopped ABBA from registering, which was reversed when the party filed a judicial protest.

They also became famous for supporting the anti-vax groups in Malta and, together with Partit Popolari, was the front face of the more recent anti-vaccine and anti-COVID measures protests in Valletta. This has made it popular with vaccine sceptics, right-wing groups and self-described evangelists.

This is the main demographic for this group due to their conservative right-wing values, with the party being against the decriminalisation of recreational marijuana and viewing the COVID measures as an infringement on peoples’ rights and an act of segregation.

The party also makes great emphasis on Christian values in most of its media. This of course, seems to be a selective emphasis. Seeing the term “Christian values” immediately brings to mind the famous mantra, “love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). It certainly is a strange assertion to be made by leading party figures Ivan Grech Mintoff and Matthew Grech, both professing deep opposition to the LGBTIQ+ community.

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This to the extent that they have been forced to make payments to the Malta Gay Rights Movement running up to €3000 after calling them “baby killers” and excluding the community from the church, stating “you cannot be Christian and gay at the same time.” One would not be faulted to ask then if their claim to Christian values is yet another justification for draconian extremism, or simply the fruit of ignorant insensitivity.

As it currently stands, this party has the largest number of candidates, running at least one in every electoral district. The list of candidates running with this party includes;

  • The leader, Mr. Ivan Grech Mintoff, running in the 10th and 12th district
  • Mr. Matthew Grech for the 10th and 11th district
  • Mr. Antoine Daccache in the 2nd and 4th district
  • Mr. David Buttigieg, running in the 12th and 13th district
  • Mr. Jesrit Angel Camillieri for the 2nd and 3rd district
  • Mr. John Mark Attard in the 6th and 7th district
  • Mr. Radu Gheorghe, running in the 5th and 13th district
  • Ms. Rebecca Parisa, running in the 6th and 8th district
  • Ms. Romina Magro for the 2nd and 4th district
  • Mr. Sammy Farrugia in the 1st and 10th district
  • Mr. Simon Elmer running in the 7th and 8th district
  • Mr. Stevey Ellul Bonici in the 3rd and 9th district
  • Ms. Tania Gauci Fiorini for the 1st and 5th districts
  • Ms. Vanessa Vassallo, running for the 9th and 11th district

Check out more information about the party here, as well as their statute here.

AD+PD

ADPD is a newly formed single party formed after the merging longest-running third party ‘Alternattiva Demokratika’ and ‘Partit Demokratiku’ in 2020. The official statement on why the merger took place was;

“Amidst a national climate of division and fragmentation, both AD and PD fully recognise the country’s need for concerted political action which finds common ground for the good of the entire country rather than polarisation for factional and partisan ends.”

The party is still headed by AD’s former leader Mr. Carmel Cacopardo, and its advocates for public spaces to be enjoyed by everyone and greater control over the construction frenzy and skyrocketing rent.

As a successor of Alternattiva Demokratika, AD/PD also promotes a higher quality of our environment throughout Malta and Gozo through the protection of agricultural land, the reduction of cars from roads and more emphasis on people over vehicles on Maltese roads and incentives towards greener transport, a move towards zero-carbon buildings.

Within the political sphere, the party wished for a reduction in the powers given to the Prime Minister, more ethical politics and politicians as a whole, and for these politicians to become an example towards the people they govern.

The list of candidates running with AD+PD includes;

  • The leader Mr. Carmel Cacopardo running in the 4th and 9th district
  • Dr Melissa Bagley running in the 5th and 10th district
  • Mr. Mario Mallia in the 2nd and 8th district
  • Ms. Sandra Gauci for the 6th and 12th district
  • Mina Tola for the 9th and 10th district
  • Dr Ralph Cassar running in the 7th and 11th district
  • Mr. Brian Decelis for the 3rd and 4th district
  • Mr. Luke Caruana in the 12th and 13th district
  • Mr. Mark Zerafa for the 8th and 9th district
  • Dr Anthony Buttigieg in the 1st and 10th district

Check out more policies from the party here.

Partit Popolari

Partit Popolari is another newly formed party led by Mr. Paul Salomone, formerly an executive member of the ‘National Republican Alliance’ (ANR). The party was formed in 2020 and considers itself as a conservative party that believes in creating a system of government more similar to the one found in Switzerland, with referendums taking on a more central role in the governing of the country.

The party also puts great emphasis on personal freedoms, including divorce, the recreational use of cannabis (although they want more restrictions than what the recently passed law allows) and the COVID mandates. They are however staunchly against migration into Malta and Europe, viewing it as nothing more than economic migration.

The latter was the main area of popularity that the party has enjoyed within the last year, with several protests being organised by the party against every restriction put on by the government, against COVID-19 Green Pass measures, and the vaccines themselves.

Their candidates include:

  • The leader Paul Salomone, running in the 10th and 12th districts
  • Joseph Aquilina for the 1st and 6th districts
  • Clint Calleja in the 1st and 5th districts
  • Edgar Appa for the 2nd and 3rd districts
  • Mark Collings running in the 4th and 7th districts
  • Stephen Florian in the 4th and 13th district
  • Frans Mallia for the 8th and 11th districts
  • Alexander D’Agata running in the 9th and 10th districts

Check out more about what the party believes in here.

Volt Malta

Volt Malta is the Maltese branch of the greater Volt Europa movement which was also founded in 2020. The party holds the same values as its parent organisation, that is, progressive and Eurofederalist.

The party holds Europe dear to its heart, following similar policies in areas such as climate change, migration and the technological revolution on the European labour market. Volt also proposes a €1100-per-month living wage and an equal parent leave.

The party advocates for a humanitarian approach towards refugees and any economic migrants, emphasising the need to view the issue as a European solution, not from a national solution.

A lot of the press regarding this party stemmed from Volt’s call for the legalisation of abortion, more access to the Morning After Pill, and a higher quality of sex education within the local curriculum.

The legalisation of euthanasia and prostitution are also among the proposals being made in its published electoral manifesto.

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Other proposals include an end to party-owned media, increasing teachers’ salaries, stopping the Malta-Gozo tunnel, increasing the minimum wage, hazard pay for COVID frontliners, and a plethora of other schemes.

Volt Malta is putting out two candidates, Co-President Alexia Debono, running in the 8th and 9th district, and Thomas “Kass” Mallia, who will be contesting in the 10th and 11th district. Mallia is poised to be the first trans woman to ever contest within a local General Election.

Volt will be running under the slogan “Ivvota Aħjar, Ivvota Volt” (Vote Better, Vote Volt).

Check out more about the party’s position here.

Independent candidates

Unlike third parties, Malta always had a few independent candidates running for a seat in parliament, although none have ever managed to get one, with any elected independent MP starting out in one of the parties and leaving without giving up his/her seat.

The two main independent candidates that are contesting are:

Arnold Cassola

An ex-leader of Alternattiva Demokratika, Prof. Arnold Cassola is now contesting as an independent candidate following a breakup from AD over the issue of abortion. With this election marking the 8th attempt for a seat in parliament, Prof. Cassola is focusing his campaign on 3 main issues, being a clean environment, a clean society, and clean politics.

For a clean environment, he promotes the maintaining of Gozo in its pristine state, public transport to become more widespread, serious, and punctual in its operation. Prof. Arnold Cassola also wishes to promote fishing and farming, and other green jobs for future generations. Like AD/PD, he is also looking towards a carbon-zero Malta by 2050, through alternate and renewable energy.

For a cleaner society, Prof. Arnold Cassola is looking towards investments into the community, for people with disabilities, sports programmes and cultural and artistic activities. The electoral manifesto also shows a move towards an economic model where the basic needs of the residents are the central point of the economy.

One of the mentioned incentives towards this is the increase of the minimum salary, which, according to Prof. Cassola, is no longer enough for an individual to live in a dignified manner.

For clean politics, he wants an end to nepotism within our institutions and a start towards meritocracy and transparency within our government.

Among other things, more power should be given to Commission against Corruption, to the Commission for Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, and a return towards a Planning Authority that has independent experts checking applications without any conflict of interest within the authority itself.

Mr. Arnold Cassola will be running in the 10th and 11th districts.

Check out more of Cassola’s policies here.

Nazzareno “Żaren tal-Ajkla” Bonnici

Probably the most famous independent candidate in recent elections, Żaren tal-Ajkla is once again running for a seat in the 3rd and 13th district. Contesting for several elections since 2003, and well known for his iconic ‘KING’ hat and the sizeable crowds that attend his events, Żaren thinks that the Maltese population is getting tired and losing confidence in the main parties, with newer parties set to replace them.

There are half a dozen other parties that are still registered with the Electoral Commission, including Ivan Grech Mintoff’s old party ‘Alleanza Bidla’ and the ‘Moviment Patrijotti Maltin’ Party, which has largely disappeared with many of its members joining the previously mentioned active parties. There is also Norman Lowell’s infamous Imperium Europa, which has not made any comments with regards to the election.

There are also parties that were created for local concerns, including ‘Floriana l-Ewwel’ and ‘L-Għarb l-Ewwel’, and the single-candidate party ‘Brain not Ego’. It remains to be seen whether any of these parties will make a comeback in the next election, but for now, we can only wait.



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