A few weeks ago, I covered the candidature of David Stellini for the upcoming European Parliament Elections. A Gozitan who has made a name for himself in the local political scene with a unique style and with a fresh way of making politics, resorting to dialogue rather than confrontation, making him much more credible and putting into practice the new way that his leader promoted so much.
Today I will visit Gozo again, this time on the other side of the political spectrum. I have been following Josianne Cutajar from a distance for quite some time. Away from the controversy that surrounds certain government ministers, away from the flamboyance of certain persons of trust, away from the bickering and the cheap propaganda of certain Brussels hopefuls, Josianne is rapidly making inroads and climbing the popularity ladder, so much so that she is constantly featuring in the top six electable candidates.
At a relatively young age, Josianne had the courage to take the plunge and swim with the sharks. Do not, however, mistake her tender age with naivety. Ms. Cutajar calculates every step she makes, every hand she shakes and every word she utters. So far she is playing her cards well, always careful not to overstep her mark, yet wilful and strong and with the ability to get her message through.
She is a natural. Effortlessly she manages to epitomise all that Labour stands for, all that staunch Labourites identify themselves with and she manages to do this without appearing archaic and still appeal to the younger generation.
Undoubtedly she has very good mentors, her job in Castille gives her easy access to certain individuals that matter, that know a thing or two about campaigning and most importantly that believe in her. A lawyer by profession she has based her campaign on issues that matter concentrating mostly but not exclusively on social issues and how to improve the quality of life. As her war cry states – The Girl with the Smile will go the extra mile – and indeed she does, I have watched her interact with people, and she makes it a point that she speaks to everyone, irrespective of their political beliefs in fact I was positively surprised at how comfortable she felt in a crowd of predominantly Nationalist supporters.
Her contributions on the local media cover an array of subjects, commenting on current affairs, explaining legal positions and setting her agenda, thus giving us a preview of what kind of MEP she would be if she were elected. Her website clearly states that she was singled out by Premier Joseph Muscat to contest the European Parliament elections. It is clear that the OPM will not be taking risks this time around and the bets will be placed on someone who is reliable, loyal and productive. Josianne Cutajar ticks all the three boxes. Ten years ago, her age would have been a huge disadvantage, but as the average age of politicians keeps getting lower, this is no longer an issue, on the contrary she can use it to her advantage.
Having lost the race to become mayor of Nadur by a mere seven votes, Dr. Cutajar will leave no stone unturned this time around. She has been endorsed by heavyweights and her campaigning is relentless. Her campaign was off and running even before she was officially announced as a candidate. For the first time the PL have a strong Gozitan candidate for the European Parliament Elections, a strong candidate who also happens to be a woman, and a lawyer.
Having said all this, nothing is to be taken for granted. Cutajar may have all it takes to be elected, the may be the Prime Minister’s favourite, and she may really be the best person for the job. This however does not mean that she will not have to fight for her seat. We have arrived at a crucial stage of the electoral campaign and these couple of months are crucial. Whereas the vast majority know which party they are voting for, many are still undecided on the preferred candidate. The most persistent campaigners will win these votes and ultimately make a difference. Much depends on how many seats the PL will win and where Miriam Dalli’s second preference votes will go. With the finishing line in view, Dr. Cutajar is very much in contention. She has eight weeks to secure a top six place, I am sure she will give it her best shot and ultimately succeed.