It’s been less than a year since Lovin Malta sat down alone in a room with Malta’s Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat. Since then he’s kicked off Malta’s European Union presidency, raised the national minimum wage, and opened a new gas power station. He’s also been at the centre of a massive political scandal involving an offshore Panama company, Ergant Inc, which has been allegedly linked to his wife Michelle Muscat.
It wasn’t long after our chat with Muscat that we took a drive with the Leader of Opposition Simon Busuttil. He’s been busy with new environmental proposals, creating a ‘coalition against corruption‘, and defending his Party’s name after a funding scandal broke. He’s now the driving force in the effort to substantiate the corruption allegations against the Prime Minister and his core team.
Oh and, they’re both battling to be elected on the 3rd June.
How have things changed since we last spoke to them?
Well, a lot has gone down and the fight has got significantly bloodier. But on many counts one thing that hasn’t changed is their tune.
Let’s look at a few highlights from our interviews that still form part of their main campaign rhetoric.
1. “Mark my words, this is the calm before the storm” Busuttil
Busuttil said this in reference to the theme of corruption in the current government. He labelled Muscat’s team, with strong conviction, as “rotten to the core”. So – his position on that hasn’t changed much.
2. “We’ve lived up to a standard that was never reached by any other administrations” Muscat
Conversely, when we asked Muscat what was it like to find out that Minister Konrad Mizzi and Chief of Staff Keith Schembri had these structures in Panama, he admitted that he had been disappointed with what had happened but that ultimately he felt the right course of action was taken – “I took decisions, I fired ministers, I asked ministers to resign, people resigned out of their own will. I took portfolios from people”.
3. “The fact that the economy is doing well, doesn’t mean that it is justified to have people in Castille who are clearly tainted” Busuttil
Busuttil’s stance on this has been buttressed by his recent money laundering and corruption allegations against Keith Schembri.
4. “We have an acting police commissioner* that is doing his job brilliantly” Muscat
One of our key questions to the Prime Minister was on the state of the Maltese police force, and whether he thought it was acceptable that the country didn’t yet have economic policing that could handle an issue like the Panama scandal. Muscat insisted that Malta has come a long way from it’s days of ‘firefighting’, and that the force has “made strides from one strength to another”. This is interesting in light of the attention the police commissioner has received in relation to the recent Pilatus Bank stories.
*The acting commissioner was Laurence Cutajar – the current police commissioner.
5. “Over time, the Nationalist Party had become disconnected and I am reconnecting the party with the people” Busuttil
This still seems to be the underlining message in Busuttil’s electoral campaign. He’s repeatedly said that he’s fighting for Malta, building a ‘national force’ against corruption. It’s the basis of his campaign. Whether or not he has managed to win the people over remains to be seen.