The revolution begins in Valletta — that’s the European center-left’s rallying cry after a longtime conservative bastion, Malta, fell to the Labour Party over the weekend.
Never mind that with growth last year of 1 percent and a jobless rate of 6.5 percent, the Mediterranean isle isn’t exactly chafing under the yoke of austerity; never mind that the victorious Labour candidate, Joseph Muscat, promised to reduce the budget deficit; and never mind that Malta, population 417,520, is better known for St. Paul’s boating accident and the valiant Knights of St. John than for being a European bellwether. What matters is that there’s one more red state, in the European sense.
“Malta’s elections are the latest sign that voters in Europe are fed up with right-wing austerity and want to see real change,” crowed Hannes Swoboda, the center-left’s floor leader in the European Parliament. The party’s Europe-wide major domo, former Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, chimed in: “Today, Malta takes a step forward and Europe takes a step closer to turning left.”
The Maltese rout brings the number of left-of-center leaders in the 27-nation EU to eight. The best performer in Italy’s chaotic election, Pier Luigi Bersani, would make it nine, if he manages to form a government. If only German voters cooperate in September, the left will be back on the commanding heights.