On another day in an another era

▪️ On another day in an another era ▪️ Other princes ▪️ Can a party break the law and take part in an election?

There was a time when the issue of a political stalwart refusing to take part in a debate with direct electoral adversaries during a hot campaign was treated as a very significant event. The media took it seriously and had one simple, meaningful word for it: chicken.

The word was not used loosely. It found itself stamped on newspaper editorials and leading articles bylined by some of the top names in modern journalism and in the most popular publications. Radio and TV were more cautious, more conscious of the predatory watchdog they had to contend with. Still, politicians angry their rivals had turned down the invitation to take part in a hotly promoted discussion with them even on the eve of an election, did not baulk from using the word.

Decades later, politicians have not become more polite, nor are they now resorting to less expressive words when they see that empty chair. It still infuriates those who genuinely want to debate and to ask questions and to demand explanations and to forward their own views and propositions. When the chicken stays away, that must mean something.

Take the outgoing President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola. Why has she been completely ignoring invitations to debate rival EU election candidates (and I don’t just mean the Labour boys and girls)? Is this all part of the European values she so often talks about as if they were her invention since the ugly party machine that thrives within the EU put her where she is?

On another day, in another era, Metsola would have been crucified by both the partisan and independent media. Starting with the infamous word, they would have bluntly asked her to explain her disinclination to take part in a face-off with her political adversaries, a democratic process that can only be successful if rivals get to meet and to discuss openly and fairly in front of audiences, listeners, surfers, and televiewers.

But our girl from next doors, to put it metaphorically, has seemingly taken up a regal posture. She has become one of those untouchable “princes and princesses” of right-wing Europe who are ok with being portrayed on their time-honoured thrones, but not with being asked – frankly – about things they have done, said, and insinuated. This don’t-dare-touch-me attitude is such a misnomer in this day and age.

Princess Roberta has refused one invitation after the other (including one from the cradle of our intellectual prowess, the University) to take part in debates so far this campaign. She prefers to get the exposure – riding unopposed and certainly not derailed on her Brussels throne – as if she were a better class of electoral candidate and to hell with the democratic process. In her obvious thinking, the other candidates might as well fight between themselves for the scraps of bone that are still available on the election plate. No wonder the Broadcasting Authority has had to strongly explain why Princess Roberta can still be covered by the media as long as her activity was an EP event and of news value, but not if it is all political.

This princess did not ask people to go and eat cake; she just wants to have the cake – or chicken? – and eat it.

Other princes

Europe has never tired of its defunct princes and princesses; the “real” ones, not the pretenders or the posers. Some provide spectacle, some amusement, and some absolute irritation.

Two European princes instantly come to mind. One is so-called Heinrick XIII Prince Reuss of Germany and the other Prince Philip whose street-savvy name is really Paul Philip Al Romanei of Romania.

Philip has been referred to as the ringleader of an aristocratic plot to overthrow the German Government, impose martial law on the public, and put him, of course, as national leader. The trial was to get underway yesterday, with nine men set to being charged with high treason, attempted murder, and plotting a violent coup d’etat that would have seen democracy torn down.  Philip, God bless his crown, belongs to the Reichsbueger movement that rejects the legitimacy of the modern German state. For pete’s sake, this is 2024.

In a raid against the so-called “Reichsbürger”, masked police officers, lead Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss (2nd from right) to a police vehicle. Photo: Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images.

The Romanian princely relic, on the other hand, has been arraigned in a Maltese court following a European arrest warrant requesting that the aristocrat be returned to Romania to serve a three years and four months sentence in prison for corruption, fraud, and money laundering.

Funnily enough, last November the French court was reported to have refused to extradite him. Another case of protected pretence. The inevitable question is: how did France, like Malta an EU member state, refuse to turn him in, even letting him travel to this little isle where the Police quickly took the necessary action in accordance with European judicial practices? Vive la revolution, I guess.

Paul Philip Al Romaniei.

Can a party break the law and take part in an election?

The long and winding saga of the PN’s refusal to submit, as required by law, its annual financial/donations reports to the Electoral Commission for the past three years continued in recent days with the party leader, Bernard Grech, still making vague comments when asked about it.

Considering the fact all other parties, from the biggest to the one-man shows, have duly submitted their reports, is it fair for the one and only party to refuse to send them to be allowed to take part in an election run by the same Electoral Commission? Just asking, of course. The law is only for Joseph Muscat.

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