As a floating voter, I had already expressed my attitude and approach to whenever any general election is to be held in our country. I have voted many times in general elections but I have never voted for the same party or candidates as on every occasion I made reasoned comparisons between the two main parties in Malta and duly analysed the stuff which their respective candidates are made of. Each time I had to be convinced based on track records, facts and credibility. I have to admit that whenever any new leader of either of our two main parties came onto the scene I was completely taken over by an element of excitement promising some new brand and creative form of politics promoted by a visionary statesman.
I first experienced such a feeling when Eddie Fenech Adami took over the reins of the PN from George Borg Olivier. In trying to oust Mintoff from several years running our country, Eddie steered the PN to embark on a new mission statement with a projected vision that was radically different from the ultra-conservative ideology embraced by the Borg Olivier administration. It was a welcome breath of fresh air in Maltese politics and promised a new era of interesting and healthy political rivalry in Malta. Until that is, Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici came onto the scene as planned by Mintoff.
Although once more, I thought that politics were going to get even more interesting and healthy with this new leader of the Labour Party, seriously challenging and confronting the PN quarters with a new ideology and a set of social and economic reforms to continue building on the social and economic revolutionary and radical reforms undertaken by Mintoff, I was bitterly disappointed. Unfortunately, it was a time when Malta went through some turbulent periods that ultimately paved the way for an electoral victory to Fenech Adami. Yes, we then had a number of years when the PN provided some positive and tranquil reforms. But with time, it somehow appeared to be running out of steam, more so when a new leader was surprisingly voted in to take over the reins of the Labour Victory and make it electable again.
Each time I voted, I had to be convinced based on track records, facts and credibility.
It was a time then when politics were made as they should, in an intelligent, non-belligerent and democratic manner. It was Alfred Sant’s turn. In no time at all, he managed to turn around the Labour Party’s fate by transforming it into a forward-looking party with an ideology and mission statement to make it electable again, culminating in the building of a new state-of-the-art Labour headquarters. The winds of change could be felt and there was a promise that politics will cease to be boring on this small Island State. Pity, though, that Alfred Sant’s time did not last long even though he managed to defy all odds and beat Fenech Adami to Castille. Internal bickering and squabbles on non-major issues spelt the early and untimely downfall of Alfred Sant, only to be succeeded soon after by a new, charismatic and budding leader in the person and character of Joseph Muscat.
Joseph Muscat’s era launched the transformation of the Labour Party from a traditional political organization into a sweeping Labour movement that succeeded in taking into its realms a massive majority of the Maltese electorate hailing from all parts and classes of Malta. Never could have one imagined such a memorable period of success and achievements under Muscat’s reign that, again, unfortunately, had to end with his also untimely and questionable resignation. Be that as it may, the Labour Movement was not to be outdone by this setback, and, once more, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes and led by Robert Abela the Movement continued spearheading forward with new and improved-upon social and economic policies and reforms which are still ongoing to date.
I draw a number of parallels between the post-Mintoff era of the then Labour Party and the post-Fenech Adami era of the PN but with different and strikingly opposite outcomes. Whereas Labour lost no time in picking up the pieces to reunite and transform itself into a formidable political force to be reckoned with, the PN, on the other hand, with Eddie out of the limelight now, started its decline into political hibernation struggling to find a successor to match or improve on Eddie’s achievements but in vain. Gonzi might have initially promised to be such a successor but internal bickering and rival factions had the upper hand such that GonziPN began fading into insignificance selling past their date policies and mired in a growing corruption atmosphere and archaic ideology. Then followed Simon Busuttil who in no time at all came up a cropper. The PN was now in the doldrums and had reached rock bottom.
It was at this stage that out of nowhere and to everyone’s surprise Adrian Delia took stock of the PN’s dire situation and endeavoured to give it a new meaning by breaking away from its bankrupt past and making it once more a match for Labour. He was chosen in a democratic manner and initially showed that he could be the proverbial new broom sweeping clean.
As an objective political observer, I had already argued how important it is for our democracy and constitutional precepts to have a functioning strong opposition. I had seen in Adrian Delia, in spite of allegations of certain past illicit activities of his that, however, to date, have never been proven, the right person to lead the PN to new heights and make it a worthy counterpart to Labour. But it was never to be as the PN’s old guard made sure that he is not given the chance and stealthily manoeuvred to oust him from their midst. That move continued hammering the last nail into the PN’s coffin. Labour diehards might be rejoicing at the PN’s practical political demise but this does not augur well for our constitutional democracy. With Adrian Delia at the helm, the PN could have given a good run to Labour and made Maltese politics very interesting to follow once more.
In the meantime, Labour continues exercising political power consistently in the public interest. It has capitalised on the genuine PN supporters’ dissatisfaction with established politics and continues to promise rapid changes, purportedly in favour of ordinary citizens over elite groups. Voting for Labour seems to have become everyone’s Hobson’s choice.