On the many occasions that I have voted during election time, I have never voted for the same party or candidate. Sometimes I voted for the Nationalist Party because of a sound and workable vision for our country which eventually led to our becoming a fully-fledged EU Member State. At other times I voted for the Labour Party when I was convinced of their credibility and credentials in offering an alternative government for my country when the Nationalists started falling apart because of internal bickering and feuds, keeping aloof of the people’s concerns, and getting mired in cases smacking of corruption and sleaze and drifting heavily away from the precepts of good governance and accountability.
Though coming from a strong Nationalist Party background family, I have always considered myself as a floating voter from the very first time I was eligible to vote. I have a multitude of close acquaintances who are either Labour Party or Nationalist Party sympathisers and with whom I frequently discuss and argue on topical issues and current affairs with an open and objective mind in the same manner as I do with my immediate family members. I regularly listen to discussion programs and news items broadcasted by TV and radio stations of both the Labour Movement as well as the Nationalist Party. I am always open to conviction but at the end of the day I make up my own mind on the basis of what I would have directly seen, read, or heard. I reason out things and put my valuable education, information, intelligence and good judgment to good use.
Not being a member of any of the two main or other political parties gives me the opportunity to evaluate dispassionately the tactics and behaviours of all sides and their supporters. Over these long years I have been able to discern the good and the bad of all the different labour and nationalist administrations governing the country in the 70s and 80s respectively. I have been able to scrutinise the credentials and potential of most candidates fielded by all political parties. Indeed, there were many times when my preferential voting in a single ballot paper of mine kept shifting from one party candidate to another party’s candidate.
I am always open to conviction but at the end of the day I make up my own mind on the basis of what I would have directly seen, read, or heard.
Another general election is looming ahead now and, as a floating voter once more, I am already reasoning out things and issues which are of fundamental importance to me and to my country. I have in the past experienced nationalist administrations which failed to deliver on my personal and national expectations when trusting them with the reins of the country as much as I have experienced different nationalist administrations which went well beyond expectations and beat the odds. I also experienced labour administrations which, while greatly improving and radically reforming the social welfare sector and bridging the huge gap then existing between the upper and lower classes of society, left a heavy tarnish and big price to pay for the successive labour party leaders that took a long time to make it again to Castille.
But then came a time when the Labour Movement came into being. The people making up this Movement became all the more clever when engaging with voters on a one-to-one basis. They saw the need to listen to the questions they were asking them and responded properly and accordingly. They understood the need to stop treating canvassing like it was a race and that it should be a qualitative not a quantitative exercise in engagement, a two-way exchange of information and views which are fed back through the party. Not that everything was rosy or plain sailing, mind you. Since 2013 to date, this labour administration, while achieving unprecedented milestones of national and fundamental importance, has unfortunately been once more tarnished with some unwarranted shady dealings and a number of shortcomings that could easily have been prevented, as well as heavily burdened with the Daphne Caruana Galizia’s brutal murder. And yet, according to recent polls and surveys being churned out by reliable sources, this Labour Movement still enjoys the solid backing of the huge majority of the Maltese electorate. And why is this, may I ask?
The people making up the Labour Movement became all the more clever when engaging with voters on a one-to-one basis.
In the coming days, politicians will be battling to win over my heart and mind – and they will be probably after yours too. Up to the general elections of 2013, the then government was in disarray, the economy was in a mess and the electorate had lost all faith in politicians. Like many others, I could not help feeling that two decades was too long for any government and the time had come for change. People who were once loyal to the nationalist party began to distance themselves from that party. People who were once traditionally nationalist supporters, for example, are now saying they cannot get behind Bernard Grech even after they could not come round to give Adrian Delia a chance.
By and large voters’ changeability has increased during the last decades. Modernisation has led to a more critical citizen, scrutinising the offer on the political market and by no means unconditionally loyal to one party. As a floating voter, I have already started taking stock of the current political, economical and social situation in my country. I will compare what was achieved during a long period of nationalist administrations with what was achieved during ten years of a labour administration. The leaders of the two main parties will be tested for the first time come next year. For sure no one can claim perfection or boast of having the solution to all the problems that the country is facing. But by June of next year, I will have been one of those persons who will have decided whom to vote for, who has more authority. And only people, only us citizens, are able to place the final emphasis, voting for this or that person or political force, or rejecting it. That is democracy.