INTRODUCTION: A close result is expected from next month's general election in Malta -- following what is being described as a bitterly-fought campaign.
GV Prime Minister Dom Mintoff's official residence, Mintoff leaving for television debate (2 shots)
GV Police barracades, closing off roads near television studios (3 shots)
GV INTERIORS Television debate in progress
SCU Mintoff debating (2 shots)
SV Opposition leader Edward Fenech Adami speaking (2 shots)
GV Debate in progress
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Background: INTRODUCTION: A close result is expected from next month's general election in Malta -- following what is being described as a bitterly-fought campaign. The population of the tiny Mediterranean republic will go to the polls on Saturday, December 12th to choose between the ruling Labour party of Prime Minister Dom Mintoff and the Nationalist party led by Edward Fenech Adami. Both men met head-on in a televised debate last Wednesday (25 November), the firs time this type of campaign has been seen in Malta.
SYNOPSIS: Political tensions were running high as Prime Minister Mintoff left his official residence for the Maltese television studios. Two days before, supporters of the National and Labour parties clashed in the central village of Zebugg. It was bad enough for the Prime Minister to go there and appeal for calm.
Police took no chances prior to the all-important battle of words on the nation's television screens. Roads leading to the studios were barricaded.
The main issues in this election include Malta's future as a non-aligned country, relations with the United States and the Soviet Union. There is also the extent of government power. The Labour party manifesto pledges to maintain non-alignment, while nationalists favour closer ties with the West and Europe. They also want membership of the European Economic Community. (EEC).
Mr. Adami has proposed membership with a "customs union", leading to relaxation of all trade barriers. Without this, Malta's economy would face fierce competition from other European nations. Prime Minister Mintoff says the island is not strong enough for this arrangement. Voters will decide on these and other issues at the poll.