The day has finally come; today we will know who will be governing our country for the years to come. It’s been a whirlwind, month long campaign that came to culmination yesterday as the Maltese population went out in their thousands to vote. However, today is the day that truly matters as the votes start being counted. Here’s all you need to know for Sunday.
How does it all work?
Okay so basically yesterday you will have voted on the ballot sheet, listing the number 1 next to your preferred candidate, and possibly following up with more numbers on other candidates. Now – that number 1 vote will count towards each political party’s tally of votes; which in the long run will be the deciding factor. However, the rest of the numbers will help decide which candidates are elected to Parliament. Now, each district is going to have a different quota of votes required to be elected based on its eligible voting population. So let’s say that in a certain district, candidate A acquires 7,000 first count votes (ie: number 1s). The district quota is at 4,000 votes. This means that candidate A will get elected and will keep 4,000 votes. The excess 3,000 votes will then be redistributed to other candidates according to how voters marked their number 2 on the ballot sheet. If by the second count, for instance, there is no other candidate who has reached the quota to be elected; other candidates begin to be eliminated, starting from those who have the least votes. The same procedure with the voting numbers is followed, and by the end of it all (it can take up to 30 counts in some districts) we’ll know which 5 candidates have been elected to Parliament.
So what matters most? Seats or Votes?
Votes do. In the long run, it will be the party that manages to gather the most first count votes. If political party A gets more seats than political party B, but political party B wins more votes; then political party B is given the amount of seats required to be able to govern. This is exactly what happened in the 2008 election when the PN won the election by around 1,500 votes; but had 31 seats only as opposed to Labour’s 34.
What about this election then? What numbers do we know so far and how significant are they?
The turnout this year was a slight decrease, of 1%, from the turnout in the 2013 election to one of 92%. That means that there has been a decrease in turnouts across all districts. Possibly the most notable decreases have been a 2% decrease in Labour’s main stronghold, the 2nd District and one of PN’s strongholds; the 12th District, whilst the turnout in the 10th District, another PN stronghold, also dipped under the 90% margin.
It’s easy to delve into the theories behind these numbers; but in many respects one must be wary of interpreting these in too much depth, as there has been no indication of how these votes are split.
What do PN need to do to win this election? Where should I be looking?
Back in 2013, the Labour Party won the election by a staggering 36,000 votes. However, since the government was hit by multiple corruption scandals and was drawn into an early election; that margin of victory has been steadily dwindling. We think it’s too difficult to pinpoint a potential winner – all the surveys conducted have a significant amount of respondents who did not wish to say for whom they were voting, whilst the results of all other surveys all fall within the margin of error.
Actually winning this election is no doubt going to be a significant task for the Forza Nazzjonali coalition. However, polls and our independent research has suggested that it isn’t an impossible feat.
The main battleground districts this year, we predict will be the 1st and 7th Districts; whilst the addition of PN stronghold Balzan to the 8th District and the extensive campaign that the coalition has conducted in the 13th District should ensure that both these districts – which were lost in 2013 despite the Nationalists obtaining marginally more votes – will most probably return to being Blue. The coalition however will also have to make inroads into the predominantly Labour-supporting 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th districts, in the hope that 3 of these will swap back to a 3-2 seat Labour majority from the 4-1 majority that they are at the moment. If Labour successfully in one of the key battleground districts mentioned a bit further up; PN will have to rely on taking a 4-1 seat victory – which generally equates to around 67-70% of the district votes at a minimum – in one of their strongholds. The 10th was last at such a 4-1 majority in 2003 whilst the coalition will be hoping that the presence of party leader Simon Busuttil on the ballots in the 11th and 12th district will give them the boost they need to turn at least one of these districts into a 4-1 majority.
When will we know the result?
Counting started at 10am and the sampling by each party’s agents will start immediately. Now, while the result of the last election was known almost within an hour; we don’t think it will be as clear-cut this time. Expect counting and sampling to go on till lunch-time at least, though we may even need to wait till the evening till one of the leader’s concedes defeat and hence knowing who will be leading Malta’s next government.