Malta University Debating Union (MUDU) – an initiative between KSU and the University of Malta – held its General Election debate on March 10th, in which five political party leaders were asked to discuss their proposals.
However, what was thought to be a civil debate between political parties quickly turned into a negative experience for the students.
A couple dozen students who managed to fill out the online form before the registration form crashed did not receive a confirmation email, meaning they could not attend the debate.
To add to that, photographers and videographers were asked to exit the premises just a few minutes after the debate had started, despite the fact that there were ample free seats (due to the previously stated problem).
Furthermore, there were several reports of students not managing to reserve a place due to the allocation of seats to political party members and youth party representatives.
The following will discuss the stances and proposals of the parties that attended the debate:
Grech Mintoff confronted both the Nationalist and Labour parties over their environmental and development proposals. He also frequently bashed Robert Abela and Bernard Grech, especially on the topic of abortion – to which ABBA repeated their stance against it and the morning-after pill. This stirred up quite a reaction from the students who managed to attend the debate.
Grech Mintoff continued his argument by stating that while he and his party are not against homosexuality, they are against what the MGRM (Malta Gay Rights Movement) stands for. Moreover, he stated his position against the tunnel connecting Malta and Gozo.
The leader of ADPD, Carmel Cacopardo, answered the questions asked, instead of retaliating against his opponents. Cacopardo laid out his arguments in favour of a greener Malta by proposing to increase protection of ODZ land. He also argued that there is no space for a racing track due to Malta’s limited available space.
When asked about how ADPD would support artists, Cacopardo made a jab towards the budget allocated for the Malta Film Festival by the current Labour Government.
Paul Salamone started off by talking about the current situation of the war in Ukraine, whilst referencing his emotional experience in war-torn countries. Salamone also emphasized the need for a more efficient transport system.
He also mentioned the skyrocketing housing prices, and claimed that small apartments will start from a quarter of a million euros.
Salamone also argued in favour of providing abortion to women who wish to pursue it, while also stating he is in favour of adoption. He also stated his position against the tunnel connecting Malta and Gozo.
Bernard Grech did not waste any of his debating time, and immediately started throwing several jabs at PM Robert Abela and his party, while accusing PL of plagiarising their manifesto.
Grech then discussed the issue of inflation, to which he claimed a Nationalist government will tackle it by allocating a fund.
Grech also mentioned several proposals such as trackless trams to solve the issues of public transport.
Another issue raised by Grech included the disastrous track record of the Labour government with respect to the environment.
He also discussed one of his proposals which included a 25% increase in stipends for students that partake in student organisations and other NGOs.
PM Robert Abela discussed several issues, while also retaliating to the attacks from opposition leader Bernard Grech.
Abela emphasised the tax refunds in the form of cheques that will be sent out to Maltese families in the coming weeks.
In response to Bernard Grech’s comments on his government’s stance on the environment, Abela mentioned the several environmental projects previously proposed.
ABBA leader Ivan Grech Mintoff raised an issue regarding the vaccine rollout, where he argued that the current stance is discriminatory. Abela replied to this by emphasising the need to keep vaccine discussions away from politics.
Abela continued to talk about additional proposals from his government, such as the free public transport by this coming October.
Despite Volt not being invited to the debate, the candidates of the party showed up at the university’s campus to protest their exclusion.
During their protest, their candidates were interviewed by members of the Third Eye, where they explained why they are protesting and showcased a number of their proposals.
For the full interview click here.
This debate marks the first time the major political parties faced each other head-to-head.
It should be noted that the major political parties focused much of the debate on jabs, responding to and counter-arguing each other – while the smaller parties stuck to safety by answering questions directly.
This debate attracted a lot of backlash from the student population, especially with regard to organisation and the alleged selectivity in attendance and parties involved.
However, it should be noted the general state of professionalism and efforts that was put into this by KSU and University of Malta given the short period of time they had.
Written by: The Third Eye
in collaboration with A Bird’s Eye View
Photo Credit: Matthew Schembri