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MALTATODAY 27 March 2022

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3 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 27 MARCH 2022 Opera onal Programme I – European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020 "Fostering a compe ve and sustainable economy to meet our challenges" Project part-financed by the Cohesion Fund Co-financing rate: 85% European Union Funds; 15% Na onal Funds Visit to find more tips. WHEN BUYING NEW APPLIANCES LOOK OUT FOR THE NEW ENERGY LABELS INSTORE. NO MORE A+, A++ AND A+++. APPLIANCES WILL NOW BE LABELED FROM 'A' – MOST ENERGY EFFICIENT, TO 'G' – LEAST ENERGY EFFICIENT. LOOK OUT FOR NEW ENERGY LABELS Calm voting day Malta goes to the polls yes- terday with polling stations opening at 7am until 10pm, uninterrupted. This is the 13th election since Malta gained its Independence. Election day brought to an end a short, and calm 33-day cam- paign with well over 340,552 voters eligible to cast their votes. The campaign was fought mostly between the Labour Par- ty, led by Prime Robert Abela, and the Nationalist Party, led by Opposition leader Bernard Grech. Abela cast his vote in Marsas- kala at 9am, accompanied by his wife Lydia Abela. Grech, ac- companied by wife Anne-marie and his two children, cast his vote in Mosta. Abela cast his party as a for- ward-looking movement that had harnessed the challenges brought about during the COV- ID pandemic, and that voters could bank on economic securi- ty in the face of rising gas prices and the spillover effects of war in the Ukraine. Grech on the other hand steered clear of his party's tra- ditional anti-corruption war- path, which had characterised the onslaught in the 2017 early elections called by former prime minister Joseph Muscat. In- stead, he projected his party as a guarantor of good governance and aspirant to higher standards of living, promising a swathe of tax cuts and tax credits for busi- nesses that reach higher levels of environmental, social and governance criteria. Abela took over as PM after winning a party leadership bat- tle with deputy prime minis- ter Chris Fearne, after the dis- graced exit of his predecessor, Joseph Muscat, in the wake of the arrest of magnate Yorgen Fenech. Grech was himself the winner of a party leadership contest with predecessor Adrian Delia, who suffered a backbench rebel- lion in mid-2020. Delia, a back- bench MP, is contesting on the eighth district. Adding to the PL (69 candi- dates), PN (70 candidates) and ADPD (10 candidates) – the merger of Green Party Al- ternattiva Demokratika with Partit Demokratiku – is Chris- tian-conservative party ABBA (14 candidates), the far-right Partit Popolari (8 candidates), progressive pan-European for- mation Volt Malta (2 candi- dates) and four independent candidates. New parliament A total of 177 candidates will be competing for 65 constituen- cy seats, with 'bonus' seats being added to reflect the overall first preference votes for the party that wins a majority. In 2021, parliament approved a new law that allows up to 12 extra seats to be awarded to the under-represented gender. However, this mechanism will only apply if two political par- ties are elected to parliament. The new gender mechanism kicks in after the election pro- cess concludes and all MPs are known – even those elected in casual elections. The Electoral Commission determines if any gender representation falls be- low 40%. This is very likely to be women. In this case, extra seats are awarded to either side of the House to be filled by unelected women candidates in a bid to reach the 40% threshold. How- ever, the extra seats are capped at 12 – six for either side. With 355,025 registered vot- ers, a total of 14,473 voting documents remained uncollect- ed – 4.1% of all eligible votes – almost double that of the 2.4% registered in 2017, and 2% in 2013. The 12th district, comprised of Naxxar, St Paul's Bay, and Mell- ieha, had the highest number of uncollected voting documents – 2,529 (8.95%). The second highest number of uncollected documents was in the 10th district, comprised of Gżira, part of Naxxar and Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, Pembroke, and St Julian's, where 1,876 (7%) doc- uments remained uncollected. There were 742 ballot boxes at 116 different polling stations across the islands. After voting closed yesterday, the sealed ballot boxes were tak- en to the Naxxar counting hall, where the counting staff started the rigorous exercise of turning the ballot sheets face down. Due to the new electronic counting system for votes, the unofficial winning party will be declared at around 10am today, but second and other preferenc- es will be known on Monday morning.

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