Another election has passed in the always political island of Malta, with the Labour Party storming to victory in the vote for the country’s MEPs.
The chaos at counting halls mean that journalists scramble to make sure every little detail is picked up for their readers, whether that’s wild celebrations, swastikas or the rumblings of party revolts.
Here’s a rundown of how Malta’s 2019 European Parliament election went down.
1. Muscat took a stress-free morning and kitted up on election day
While Malta was bracing itself for the results of the European election, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat took the morning to relax and kit up to cheer on his daughter Etoile as she played football during her school’s parents day.
2. This year’s EP election registered the lowest turnout ever
As the counting halls began to fill up, the electoral commission revealed the official turnout for the European Parliament election to be 72.6%; a 2% decrease from 2014.
The lowest turnout ever in an EP election saw the 10th District (Sliema, Gzira, St Julian’s) and 12th District (Mellieha, Naxxar and St Paul’s Bay) record turnouts below 60%.
3. Experts and Delia’s allies spelt disaster for PN well before any projections
The day had barely begun as electoral experts and party officials started indicated that a gap as wide as 50,000 votes should be expected.
Independent MP Hermann Schiavone, who is considered to be part of Delia’s inner circle, had already predicted a “difficult day” for the PN before 9am.
“It looks like the PL is going to win by a huge margin,” Schiavone wrote on social media. “This happened because of a faction in the PN who decided not to vote. On the other hand, the PL managed to mobilise the voter base.”
4. One voter drew a swastika and wrote “korrotti” on the ballot sheet
A photo taken by Lovin Malta showed one disillusioned voter drawing an actual swastika under the Democratic Party candidates on their ballot sheet, also writing korrotti (corrupt) within the boxes of Labour Party candidates.
The election was tempered with far-right concerns after the arrest of two Armed Forces of Malta soldiers for the murder of a migrant in a series of racially-motivated attacks just days before the country voted.
5. Labour Party’s wild celebrations claimed the life of a perspex window
Labour supporters at the Naxxar counting hall were in full voice, launching into wild celebrations once the first projections assuring a significant victory were revealed.
Ecstatic supporters chanted Viva l-Labour, “Joseph, Joseph” and “Our Joseph is the leader, Hallelujah” as they hugged each other and banged on the perspex glass.
One sheet wasn’t so lucky, getting smashed as a result of the unfiltered joy.
6. Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi led the celebrations
Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi wasted no time in letting everyone know how the massive win made them feel. In what is now becoming a tradition at the counting halls, Mizzi was hoisted upon the shoulders of supporters during the celebrations.
Meanwhile, Nigel Vella, a communications official at Castille, uploaded a photo of Schembri leaping into his arms and captioned it with various emojis.
7. Muscat “speechless” after landslide result
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he was speechless after the result, adding that the country has once again put its faith in the government and rejected the negativity and scaremongering of the Nationalist Party.
Sounding an appeal for national unity in his victory speech, Muscat said that the result was a sign that the public doesn’t want MEPs who work against Malta.
“We achieved this thanks to the unity we sowed, the unity that must remain the central point of this movement,” Muscat said. “The Maltese people rose up and said they don’t want people to go overseas and try and work against our country.”
However, PL targets Roberta Metsola and David Casa still managed to keep hold of their seats.
8. “We deserve better” – PN band clubs protested after the result
Protest notes demanding change were stuck on the doors of some of the Nationalist Party’s każini in light of its loss to the Labour Party at the European Parliament elections.
The notes, which all carried the words “We deserve better”, appeared on at least four PN każini – in Swieqi, St Julian’s, St Paul’s Bay and Sliema.
9. Metsola brushed off personally backing Delia
The mood in the PN camp at the counting halls was split down the middle, with some calling for Delia’s head and others backing their party’s leader. MEP Roberta Metsola got caught in the middle.
Metsola sniggered her way out of saying whether she personally believed that Adrian Delia should remain on as the party’s leader.
“The only message I have is that the party has always been here and will continue to do so,” Metsola said.
10. Delia came to the counting hall and remained defiant in his role
In the face of a resounding defeat, PN Leader Adrian Delia stood defiant, insisting that he will stay on in his post despite the result.
“The vote deficit has now increased, but we won’t lose heart,” Delia said in his address. “We will work with humility and tranquillity to find out why we aren’t yet the people’s choice.”
“In the worst of times, we must find the best in ourselves”
The heavy defeat must have been difficult to take, but PN Leader Adrian Delia turned up to the counting hall to address the press and thank the many volunteers who helped in the electoral process.
Muscat, on the other hand, failed to turn up.
Questions will remain over Delia’s leadership, more so should the PL deliver another devastating blow in the local council elections on Wednesday.
11. Turns out that “historic majority” wasn’t so historic after all…
All day, media houses had been told to expect a historic landslide victory for Muscat, with the state’s broadcaster even indicating a 51,000 majority at one point.
While the Labour Party did build on its margin recorded in both the 2017 general election and 2014 MEP election, the difference between the PL and the PN ended up being 42,656.
This means Labour failed to beat the 44,104 margin recorded by Pawlu Boffa in 1947.
12. Four sitting MEPs kept their seats, with two newcomers being elected
Sitting MEPs Miriam Dalli, Alfred Sant, Roberta Metsola and David Casa all managed to keep a hold of their seats, despite a strong challenge from the PN’s Frank Psaila.
Francis Zammit Dimech, who took Therese Commodini Cachia’s seat in the European Parliament, did not make the cut.
Two young PL politicians – 31-year-old Alex Agius Saliba and 28-year-old Josianne Cutajar – took the two remaining seats.
Cutajar broke some records by becoming both the youngest MEP to be elected, and the first MEP from Gozo.
13. Norman Lowell performed well as third parties struggled… but even he failed to hit initial projections
Alternattiva Demokratika lost its status as the country’s third largest party, with both the Democratic Party and Imperium Europa resoundingly beating AD.
Norman Lowell was the biggest fringe party winner, getting 8,438 first-count votes; more than double his closest third-party rivals.
Environmental, pro-choice and foreign PD’s Camilla Appelgren also performed well as a newcomer to the political seat, beating out 15 mainstream candidates.
However, small party leaders were all sorely disappointed. PD leader and MP Godfrey Farrugia only managed to obtain 1,668 votes, while AD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo only won 1,021.
14. Electronic counting shot up the wild projections
The first year of electronic voting did not go off without a hitch. Projections by parties and independent experts were way off the final results, whether that’s an 8,000 decrease in PL’s majority or Lowell’s predicted 18,000 votes.
While the system managed to tally up all the votes and publish official results within 24 hours, the process did take a lot longer than expected according to counting agents.
The projections for the first count votes were initially set to be available at 5pm. However, this eventually happened at around 9pm.
With the election of 69 councils taking place on Wednesday, the electoral commission will be hoping to improve on the system’s efficiency after its first real test.