Doing politics by nostalgia

The general election is approaching and instead of sharing its vision for our country, PN has resorted to nostalgia, offering nothing more than a history lesson. ADRIAN DOMINIC ELLUL WRITES.  

We are on the cusp of another electoral campaign. Political parties in Malta and the political candidates representing them are gearing up for another electoral campaign where they will have to explain their party’s vision for the country and why their vision is better than that of their competitor. 

At least… so I hope. 

It seems the Nationalist party fails to understand that politics is all about moving forward. The past should be remembered and honoured, but the electorate cannot simply be made to choose one party over another on things that happened over forty years ago. 

Last weekend was symptomatic of this frame of mind. On Sunday the Nationalist party organised the (by now) traditional Sunday meeting in Sliema. Bernard Grech’s speech was quite a run-of-the-mill one – bashing the Government and everyone who supports it. His speech pointed out continuous parallelisms between today’s situation and Malta in the 1980s. In reality, this is nothing new: whenever an election is looming, the Nationalist party goes full nostalgia mode. 

The electorate can’t simply be made to choose one party over another on things that happened over forty years ago. 

But this was just the tip of the iceberg. Later on during the day, the Nationalist party broadcasted a documentary on Eddie Fenech Adami’s leadership and achievements. This included a 10-hour telethon to gather money for the upcoming electoral campaign. As much as I love documentaries, I fail to see how “Eddie” (as he is affectionately called by Nationalist supporters) is the solution for today’s problems. 

Whenever the PN is between a rock and a hard place electorally, it resorts to nostalgia. Something similar happened during the 2017 electoral campaign, when PN strategists deemed it wise to push Eddie and Lawrence Gonzi in the limelight to prop up Simon Busuttil’s credibility as a prospective Prime Minister. This did not happen and had the opposite effect – it showed that the PN did not have a forward-looking mindset but had to resort to its history to seem ‘credible’. 

What PN strategists fail to understand is that, at the time, the Nationalist party had a vision – something which is completely lacking in today’s Nationalist party. Whether it was the famous mantra of “Xogħol, Ġustizzja u Libertà” or the intention of making Malta an EU full-member state – the PN offered a semblance of hope and vision for the future. Today, this is almost absent. 

People vote when they are confident in a cause. The Nationalist Party is offering nothing new for the future. To this day, we still have no idea how the PN will steer Malta’s post-COVID recovery process, its economic vision, or its environmental vision. When one is not offered a cause to feel confident in, people will then vote on the basis of the Party’s credentials. And believe you me – the Nationalist Party’s credentials in times of crisis are not good at all. 

To this day, we still have no idea about the Nationalist party’s vision for our country. We have been promised a new vision and a new direction – but to this day we have been given a history lesson.

People expect that a political party that aspires to lead the Government will be able to anticipate the problems and overcome them. People look ahead and wonder who will be able to offer them and their children a better future. 

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