The ultimate election checklist

Speeches, etiquette & policy positions will be under deep surveillance. What are you expecting?

Talks of an election are brewing now more than ever. With the present Labour Government’s mandate coming to an end this year, the question on everyone’s mind which begs for an answer is when will the date of the election will be set in stone. 

From a third party’s perspective, the recent survey issued by MaltaToday should strike up a few eyebrows for staunch Labour Party members and a sign to be prepared for what is to come. On the other hand, the results may be perceived as promising for the Nationalist Party and it may be an occasion to rub hands together and move along with whatever it takes to achieve a more desirable result than that of the 2017 election. Looking at the way things are at present, there are a few things which both parties should consider. 

These things, from a bystander’s point of view, are thoughts for either party, or the party that genuinely wishes to convince the average voter, contemplating what box to tick in the ballot. And, of course, in the course of the electoral mandate, make that very same voter have a sense of fulfilment for voting for the politician which they have ultimately chosen to represent them. This is by no means a recipe for success, but rather, food for thought. 

1. The Conduct of Party Leaders will be a key player

The most remarkable leaders are forever remembered for many of their qualities and conduct. Some are remembered for their simple, albeit impactful speeches, such as ex-Conservative British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Others, like ex-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite carrying the world on her shoulders had a steady hand through whatever cataclysm was thrown at her. 

Time and time again, different schools of thought have been developed on what makes a genuine leader, why a strict leader may be more impactful than a laissez-faire one or what are the top 10 qualities of a good leader and essentially, a winner. Leadership is painted as a lovely state of status, which gives one the upper hand in deciding what ultimately should be, what people look up to when things catastrophize and who should indirectly help enamour and aspire their citizens with the democratic process and on good faith. There are, however, some dark aspects too.

At present, it is no secret that we have consistently upheld the two-party system, but a key factor in the portrayal of these parties is who is behind the wheel. We are currently looking at two potential leaders, and time and time again, the conduct of the respective leaders, as can be seen in surveys, while one can align with the views of a party, one might not necessarily be approving of the very same person behind the wheel. Therefore, the person driving that same wheel must tread carefully when it comes to the obstacles which they may come across.

For Robert Abela and Bernard Grech, their flaws, their speeches under the marquee, their etiquette at mass meetings, their positions on policy on people’s minds, both national and foreign – just to name a few, will be under deep surveillance in the coming weeks and testament to their capacity to lead. And while they might not need to prove it to themselves or the members of their party, they do need to prove it to the voter in the voting booth.

In such times, the true leader should be able to unite everyone, push party politics and ‘siege’ attitude to the side and bring his team of politicians to adhere to political conduct which is true to its values. They should be able to, despite an egalitarian society exposed to hierarchy, be able to bridge the gap between the world of power and suits, to the world of every average tax-paying citizen doing his/her very best and align themselves with them.

2. Layman’s terms

Lord Tom Denning had a straightforward philosophy: Commanding of the language is the key to success in any profession where words count. This statement could not be further from the truth. One could be highly qualified in their field of expertise, and yet the means by which the message is delivered is what can leave a person contemplating way after it has been delivered. Every time a bill is assented by the President of Malta, or a governmental scheme is introduced, or a press conference is delivered, a crucial element is sometimes forgotten, which is keeping things simple and, in a language that everyone can understand.

Bearing this thought in mind, any party who wishes that their political campaign is not in vain after so much hard work, should remember the basics. One should bear in mind that we cannot assume that everyone knows what we are talking about, or that we just ‘get’ what a new law could mean for one and how they live, or why it is good news that economic growth has tripled. If we have the resources, we should make our very best effort to ensure that every statement, speech, proposal, potential law and service which has some degree of relevance or can impact a citizen’s life, should be written and weaved in such a way that everyone will understand without difficulty.

3. Taking people seriously should not be left for election time

When talks of an election start brewing, a common person’s social media feeds tend to be populated with photos of official visits or politicians doing their very best and visiting people, be it at their place of work, working for a cause or volunteers who have a dedicated lifelong commitment to a cause. This is all well and good but doing this solely when an election is in one’s mind and a seat in the House, is simply not good enough.

Bearing in mind, being a politician is no walk in the park. One must juggle time to carry out his responsibilities adequately, work and research for potential legislation and balancing this with family life. But here, we are referring to last minute tricks which might boost one’s political attractiveness.

One of the perks that comes along with a democracy is that we can hold those we elected accountable and if we feel they have not kept up with their electoral promises, they are answerable to our questions. A political party that wishes to remain in power, and that has consistently based themselves on the values of listening, should maintain this by creating an environment open for the people. An entity open to everyone, wherever they are from, which listens to people’s concerns with an open and fresh mind. 

4. Gender Balance will be under the microscope

In the last few years, we have heard the statement ‘the future is female’ thrown around a couple of times, and rightly so. The controversial gender quota law passed on earlier in 2021 came part and parcel with sanctifications and demonisations, but with an upcoming election, it shall be interesting to see how this law will play out with its first upcoming opportunity to be put into practice.

However, it is also expectant of the parties to practice what they preach. Enacting a law which will encourage elected female members is pointless IF the parties’ general approach to women and women’s rights is moot or if women only make up a less than a quarter of the Cabinet of Ministers. While some are avid believers of meritocracy, at the very same time, the culture ingrained in us makes a woman think twice about even considering putting their name on the ballot, no matter how ready she is to draw up a legislative bill about her area of expertise or speak to people during house visits.

The attitudes of society towards such women are not always forgiving and this thus puts an obligation on political parties and their leaders to do better and have a modus operandi which maintains that a female politician who is considered as ‘too much’ is speaking just as much as any man would in politics. While this subject merit a whole other contribution which explores many different reasons, staying on this subject, it shall be interesting to see how the parties will execute their promises in this regard.

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