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MALTATODAY 6 March 2022

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12 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 6 MARCH 2022 NEWS ELECTION 2022 LUKE VELLA AS soon as the election date for 26 March was announced by Prime Minister Robert Abela, billboards and streamers with Abela's name and the PL slo- gan erupted all across Malta and Gozo. The internet is however now more than ever the political arena in 2022, and political par- ties are battling it out online to spread out their message to the maximum number of people. Data provided by Meta, the parent company of Facebook, shows that political advertise- ment spending peaked in Feb- ruary, following PM Abela's election announcement for 26 March. Over the week between 23 February and 1 March 2022, the PN's Facebook page topped the spending list with €18,700, followed by PN leader Bernard Grech with €14,400, Robert Abela with €4,300 and PL with €3,700. From within the in- dividual candidates, minister Clyde Caruana spent €990), Labour candidate Ray Abela spent €960, and Aaron Farru- gia €830. Over the past month the PN also came in first for spending with over €19,800, followed again by Bernard Grech with €16,600, and the PL and Robert Abela with around €4,500. Over three months, PN spent a total of €19,900, Bernard Grech €17,400, Robert Abela €6,700 and PL over €5,000. In- terestingly a new face, Ray Ab- ela, Labour candidate for the first and third districts spent €4,200, almost as much as his party. After the PM, Minister Aaron Farrugia was first from the cabinet members, spending around €2,700. The data provided by Meta goes back to April 2019, during which the PN spent a massive €59,300, in comparison to PL's €20,700. Robert Abela spent €19,400 within the same time period while Bernard Grech spent €28,200 since August 2020. Grech spent a considerable amount on ads in the run-up to the PN leadership campaign in 2020. Former PN leader Adrian Delia spent €21,100 and Labour candidate Ray Abela tags along with a €12,600 spent since Oc- tober 2020. The smaller parties did also invest some money into Face- book ads, with ADPD – The Green Party spending a total of €1,500, Volt Malta just over €400 and €300 for Partit Popo- lari. Independent candidate Arnold Cassola spent less than €100. The Labour Party's English language online portal, the- spent is also in the game, spending €8,600 in total, €1,800 of which in between 23 February and 1 March. Former PN MP Clyde Puli – who declared he was not con- testing the general election in the first day of the campaign – seems to have had other plans in the run-up. He spent a significant €8,100 since April 2019 and in February alone he put out a total of eight adverts. The last one was active until 19 February and the election was announced just a day later. Adverts by district The ad spending on both sides of the aisle is concentrated in the Central and South Eastern regions. Both the Prime Min- ister and the Opposition lead- er are contesting the southern fifth district. In total since 2019, €340,400 were spent on the cen- tral region, €206,000 on the south-eastern region, €66,000 on the northern region and €53,500 on Gozo. The amount for the southern region was negligible. Both the Labour Party and PN increased their ad spend significantly in September and October 2021, at the time that the PN was speculating about a possible early election in No- Political parties spend a fortune to deliver their message online

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