The day(s) of reflection to turn the tide

The twopence from a private citizen who had been close to the Partit Laburista in the past but did not support the party on Saturday 8th June.

Forget the pseudo ‘day of reflection’ on the eve of voting day that is not observed at all by none other than the political parties themselves. The most important and urgent reflection is needed right now in the wake of the unexpected result of the European Parliament elections that has shaken the political scene. The following is the twopence from a private citizen who follows local current affairs, who had been close to the Partit Laburista in the past but did not support the party on Saturday 8th June.

This Labour government needed a jolt, and this came through stronger than I had wished or anticipated. Far from being a ‘solid victory’ for Labour, this is a Pyrrhic victory that hopefully will not spell the beginning of the end of the Labour stewardship but bring Prime Minister Robert Abela and his government to their senses before it is too late.

Like in other EU countries, it was all about giving a slap on the wrist to the party in government. Tremors were also felt in other countries like France, Germany, and Austria. If for a moment you forget the economic numbers on paper and the pats on the back by international monetary institutions, the situation on the ground in Malta is not rosy at all.

The unlikely winners

The election was actually a victory for the Labour supporters who are feeling sidelined, lost, or even betrayed by a party and a government who seem to prefer to give in to demands from Nationalist supporters or the much-hated ‘turncoats’, i.e. those who are perceived to have conveniently switched sides in 2013.

Worse than that, it is a strong message from Labour supporters who do not want to see their party hostage of Joseph Muscat and his coterie facing serious criminal charges in court. Muscat’s legacy is a mixed blessing with strong economic performance, but at what cost? €400 million lost in the Vitals scandal and nothing to show for them; the principle of governance thrown in the gutter, greylisting, and foreign institutions breathing down our neck for our perceived dereliction in upholding the rule of law. Within this context then the shenanigans in front of the law courts in support of Muscat and his acolytes Schembri and Mizzi, fanned by some prominent Labour personalities and Muscat himself on social media, are truly repulsive.

Money is not everything

The strong economic performance over the past 11 years has not come without a host of negative side effects.The rather un-socialist neo-liberal attitude espoused first by the Muscat government and then left to march on unbridled by Abela’s government has contributed to the ‘uglification’ of our country, with developers and businessmen allowed to run rough-shod over the man in the street. No wonder private citizens feel helpless against having their streets and squares taken over by big and not-so-big business and uncontrolled foreign worker migration (with workers treated little better than slaves). And who can blame them after Prime Minister Abela himself had declared that his government is “business friendly”? We may be doing fine economically but this performance is a pressure cooker and while it has contributed to higher standard of living it has also lowered the quality of life of us Maltese.

The blame game

The financial handouts during the electoral campaign backfired with the middle-of-the-road voters. It was too obvious, too puerile, almost callous. As heartless as the arrogant attitude harboured by many a ministry official ensnared in the false security of the recent electoral successes. Contrary to what has been reported, Prime Minister Abela is much to blame for these woes. The buck stops with him, as always, whatever he shouts to the party top brass behind closed doors at Mile End or his ministers in Castille.

The electoral result is also a vindication of those few from within the Labour Party who publicly warned of the worsening situation and were ostracised rather than heeded.

The election also highlighted the shortcomings of our electoral system based on the single transferable vote, that nourishes the PL-PN duopoly while crushing the small parties and independent candidates. The PN is in no position to claim any surge of its own. This was clearly a yellow card, to use a football term, to the party in government. The other team, PN, is as stale and putrid as it was five, ten, 15 years ago.

True wealth

Perhaps the most important outcome of this election is that there is a sizeable portion of the electorate that does not subscribe to tribal ‘us-vs-them’ politics, who thinks that in the life of a democratic nation, money in voters’ pockets is not the most important measure of the wealth of a nation.

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