Labour : A case of sour grapes

Floriana has re-elected Nigel Holland as Mayor.

His election has been criticised by the Labour Party as it is the result of a deal between Mr Holland, the last of the independent councillors, and the two PN councillors elected on the Floriana Local Council.

The Labour Party obtained a relative majority of votes in the March 2012 Local Council elections. In fact, they polled 49.51% of the votes cast. A large amount, but still not an absolute majority. In fact, it elected two out of five councillors.

It was clear to all from day one that taking leadership at the Floriana Local Council was dependent on arriving at an agreement between the five elected local councillors. I fully understand that arriving at an agreement with Mr Holland was tough as his demands as an eventual “junior partner”  included taking the leadership himself. It was too high a price for Labour, which clearly they were not willing to concede. It was their basic political position. It is clear that at a point in time, even the PN councillors were thinking of an alternative solution.

In fact, it is known that at one point, the PN councillors considered forming a “grand coalition” with Labour with the consequential sharing of the spoils. The PN proposal clearly aimed to squeeze Mr Holland out of local politics, in the long term. But fortunately for Mr Holland, Labour only thinks in the short term.

So back to square one.

At the end of the day it all boiled down to one simple fact: PN was willing to pay the high price demanded by Mr Holland: the mayorship. Labour was not. Hence, the agreement was concluded between PN and Mr Holland.

There is nothing undemocratic in such an agreement: the parties leading the Floriana Council have a clear mandate supported by  50.49% of the Floriana voters .

This is the stuff of which coalitions are made. If it is possible to agree, you form part of it. If not, you just watch helplessly as others do it.

I sincerely hope that the Labour Party has learnt something in the process. Is this a case of sour grapes or a missed opportunity?

originally published at, August 10, 2012