Stranger things can happen

▪️ Stranger things can happen ▪️ A touch of falseness? ▪️ Who said it? Not me...

The political eighties are often described as among the worst in the modern-day history of Malta, due mainly to violent actions and reactions and contaminated confrontations between the two major political parties. The 1981 general election mushroomed into a situation where democracy itself was at stake, under bombarment from both sides of the political arena.

You see, at the back end of two significant electoral defeats (1971 and 1976), the Nationalists had long been spoiling for a showdown. This led to the formation of a paramilitary, blue-jacketed group, supposedly to defend the party’s stalwarts, and the discovery of a huge illegal arms cache. It has to be said there were also elements within the governing Labour Party that stoked the fire as the nation held its breath. Malta was not new – not even then – to political violence and dangerous electioneering. It got worse from the turn of the century when 19th Century Malta bowed out in a sea of indecision only to enter the 20th that would eventually see the world, and our islands, through two terrible world wars.

The 1981 general election, however, saw the Nationalists objecting to the Constitutionally-binding consideration of the number of Parliamentary seats won for a majority to be decided, and the party to claim it rightly declared as the eventual winner. They refused the result on the basis it did not reflect the “true” majority of votes it had actually won. A very astute way of wriggling out of a tight political position, but the Constitution was, and still is, the foundation of a guaranteed free and fair electoral process.

Of course, the Nationalist Party, packed as it has always been by marauding lawyers wanting to make a name for themselves, drove this home on a wave of protests and boycotts that further deepened the national wound.

Eventually and agonisingly, both sides reached a respectable agreement to change the Constitution whereby the necessity of a seats majority was changed to a votes majority, with even a single vote more than 50% giving the winning party the right to run the country, as after all happened in 1987. So much heat, so much division, and so many tensions had finally led to seats becoming less important than votes, a premise even countries which often give us lessons in democracy, still do not have today.

Flash forward to this week’s European elections. Those very same people who had admirably stood to their argument and won, also thanks to a realistic opposite side, are today voicing one solitary electoral aim – that of winning a third seat out of the available six. Regardless of what the majority of people may vote, their vision remains focused on winning that seat, that seat and nothing else. All of a sudden, a majority of votes, which proved so valuable well over 30 years ago, does no longer figure in today’s PN aspirations!

Stranger things can happen. Of course, there will be those who argue this is another type of election, unhindered by Constitutional processes and majority claims. It will, however, still be a mid-term assessment of the parties’ current condition among the electorate. A majority of votes on Europe would still reflect the people’s will, and yet we find the Nationalists howling and growling on the need of their winning a third seat! They have been throwing unmanifested policies at the wall, hoping to see if something sticks. It seems that precious seat, even against the possible reality of a Labour majority, is all that counts now.

The mind doesn’t boggle. It understands all too well.

A touch of falseness?

Most people sighed in relief when the Civil Court bluntly rejected the Nationalist Party’s demand to have the General Workers’ Union ousted from its historical home – the Workers’ Memorial Building in Valletta. The vicious case was instituted way back in 2017 by then PN leader Simon Busuttil, the very same year he was defeated by an extraordinary majority of votes.

It had been such an empty, uncalled-for act of political vindictive even PN members of the GWU had at the time found it unsavoury and embarrassing.

When the present PN leader, Bernard Grech, recently visited the Workers’ Memorial Building, where he was rightly received with respect and attention, did either of the two sides bring up the Busuttil case, then still a Damocles sword hanging over the union’s head? Or was there a touch of the falseness that has characterised the PN’s leader since his usurping power from Adrian Delia?

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech (l) being welcomed at the Workers’ Memorial Building by Josef Bugeja, GWU Gweneral-Secretary.

Who said it? Not me…

It honestly makes me squirm and want to throw up, but for the first time in his and my time, I find myself agreeing with something that former American president and criminal Donald John Trump has said. He’s just called the United States a fascist state.

I wouldn’t have agreed before the still raging Gaza war, 7th October included.  But eight months on, I have to say the Biden Administration (I am usually a Democratic Party sympathiser from afar) has proved itself to be such. The horrific way it has treated students protesting Israel’s genocidal actions left most people of goodwill speechless. More so when pro-Israel demonstrations took place without a single policeman lifting a finger to stop them.

Mostly fascist, however, are the contradictions and the bias in US government reactions to developments in the war, even when other Western allies are no longer checking themselves before reacting negatively to Netanyahu’s butchery. For the US, babies killed in Israel is an abomination, but murdered Palestinian babies only brought it on themselves.

I’m sorry that Trump, himself on the crest of a fascist wave, had to say it, but I’m not sorry to say it.

Main photo: Eddie Fenech Adami, PN leader, returns to Parliament in 1983 amid commotion after the Opposition’s boycott. (Autobiography ‘Eddie, My Journey’).

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