Inspiring the uninspired

A strong political party thrives on a diversity of perspectives and the rigorous debates they generate.

The European elections have sent a clear message, shaking Malta’s political landscape.

Despite the Labour Party (PL) having lost its previously unassailable lead over the Nationalist Party (PN), it is clear that the Opposition party is not ready for government. Yet, this situation should not lead the PL to complacency. It’s crucial, now more than ever before, that the party in Government listens to criticism and values feedback. The people have spoken, and their call for change should be acknowledged.

A decade ago, the Labour movement’s rallying cry for change was a powerful force that inspired hope in many. While, since the change in government in 2013, change did occur in areas such as the economy and civil rights, the PL’s transformative spirit seems to have waned over the years. The lack of a strong Opposition did play a part in the government’s complacency. Voters are clearly calling for change, and the PL needs to listen to avoid continuing to lose their trust.

In this situation, effective party leadership is crucial. Effective political leaders are both receptive and resolute. While actively listening to the people is crucial, they must also possess the calm composure and decisiveness necessary to make judgements.  Even in the face of dissent, a strong leader has the courage to guide the way forward. Social media offers valuable insights from the public, but a leader’s role is to provide direction, grounded in principles and a clear vision. This kind of leadership fosters hope and inspires confidence in a brighter tomorrow. This is certainly not the time to call a vote of confidence in the party leader. The leadership should be allowed the time and space to discern the results and devise a strategy for how the party – and government – should move forward. People are, understandably, asking questions. How will the PL react to further damaging news emanating from the courts of law? Should it blame the courts in a bid to defend those who have allegedly abused their power?

Historically, those in power have often benefited from the wisdom of the past. However, this knowledge is sometimes disregarded, either through ignorance or an inability to properly analyse it, leading to regrettable outcomes. A cautionary tale: in 1989, amidst the escalating protests in East Germany, the country’s leadership celebrated the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic, ignoring the brewing crisis. Mikhail Gorbachev, the visionary Soviet leader who attempted to salvage the situation, offered a poignant message: “Those who are late will be punished by history.” We all know the swift downfall of East Germany shortly after. The urgency of the situation in Malta cannot be overstated. The PL risks a similar fate if it fails to acknowledge the clear message being conveyed by the people. A misinterpretation of this message could have severe consequences. Therefore, a timely response from the PL, informed by historical context, is of paramount importance.

The people are disillusioned and lack a sense of optimism for the future. The PL in government needs to take bold and innovative steps to inspire them again. The world is embracing artificial intelligence (AI), but Malta seems to be falling behind. Furthermore, while numbers in tourism are important, the sector risks becoming unsustainable. People are struggling with everyday problems like traffic congestion, never-ending construction, pollution, and a lack of open and green spaces. There have been some recent efforts to create more public spaces, but that’s not enough. More action is needed.

Not all is lost, but the PL has to avoid repeating the mistakes that others have done. If the party succeeds in offering hope of a truly better Malta, history will be kind to it. The PL is vibrant and dynamic, but divergent views within it must not be stifled. A strong political party thrives on a diversity of perspectives and the rigorous debates they generate. It is what had transformed the PL into such a massive political force in the first place.

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