Why political consensus is difficult to reach in Malta

Not too long ago, as is my wont, I was browsing peacefully through Facebook, now carefully rebranded as Meta, when I happened to stumble upon a status written by a good friend of mine, a friend whose opinions I greatly value and respect, and who was lamenting on how certain legislation should only be drafted after a consensus between all parties is reached.

He was obviously referring to the Cannabis legislation bill debated in Parliament this week, and to the vociferous opposition being brought forward by well, the Opposition, coupled with 22 NGOs who coincidentally, ALL fall under the patronage of the Catholic Church.

This the same Church that remains unable to re-establish its historical place in people’s minds after being sent packing by thousands of Catholics during the Divorce Referendum and now seemingly using all groups under its patronage to voice it’s opinion. Rebranding? Well…that’s an argument for another day.

Now, momentarily putting aside the Cannabis bill I must admit to being sympathetic to this consensus reaching train of thought!

What could be better than all involved parties agreeing on the way forward on contentious issues?

Why do all the denizens on these limestone isles find it so hard to reach an agreement? Why is it always black or white? Why can we never see shades of grey? Why is everything about confrontation? I mean, It’s not as if there is something in the air that prevents us from doing so (well, I hope not anyway).

Why is it always black or white? Why can we never see shades of grey? Why is everything about confrontation?

Why is the ‘I win, you lose’ train of thought the order of the day? I reasoned as I mentally agreed with the insistence that our MPs should seek consensus and that the Government should have put more effort into that.

With this thought in mind, I started looking up all the nitty gritty behind the Cannabis debate.

My previous resolve was rather short lived as lo and behold, whilst browsing through past articles I was surprised to note that until only a few weeks back, a betting man would have been justified into risking a fortune on gambling that consensus, at least in parliament would be reached, only to note how the scenario has now changed.

Why?

Well, following the foot-in-mouth moment when Bernard Grech was outed as having been blissfully unaware of a white paper having been launched; and his reaction and insistence that the Government had actually copied his own proposals in the bill, assuming that the PN was all aboard was quite natural.

I mean, who on earth would state that he was totally opposed to proposals and ideas that he himself had claimed to have forced the Governments’ hand on?

As unbelievable as it may sound, the usually ultra conservative PN was actually in favour of allowing people to grow their own weed safely and in turn, negate the need for decent law abiding citizens to mingle with shady denizens of the underworld to get their supply! Well done Bernard!

Fast forward a few weeks, and the PN has backtracked spectacularly, following what seems to have been a very harsh and humiliating internal debate which, adding insult to injury, has once again been leaked to the independent media.

The PN is now, unbelievably, drastically opposed to this bill leading all to a very simple, yet seemingly unanswerable question.

How can the humble denizens of this wind swept rock ever hope of seeing Parliamentary consensus achieved if the PN is unable to even establish internal consensus?

How can we ever hope of seeing Parliamentary consensus achieved if the PN is unable to even establish internal consensus?

Now it would be logical to deduce that if the PN has made such a hash of a subject that has been on the table for the last couple of years, how can they ever hope of seriously scrutinising Governmental affairs whilst offering a decent alternative?

Now don’t get me wrong, I have in the past, been highly critical of the various wrongdoings of this Labour Government, and have no intention of changing that, all this while stating, time and again (for all that it is worth) all whilst also criticising the Opposition.

The PN getting it’s house in order before it can even dream of challenging this government’s obvious popularity is a democratic requisite.

However, sadly, saying that a few years ago, whilst the PN had some perceived breathing space was one thing. Repeating this during the last months before a general election is another.

Leader in, Leader out and the PN seems unable to gain any sort of traction.

It is as clear as day to all of us that the internal squabbles within the PN remain far from being solved.

How can an opposition that is unable to present a united front ever hope of making it’s mark both in parliament and on the electorate?

When one objectively takes into account that these squabbles are deemed by the litigants, perhaps egoistically, as being far more important and necessary than presenting a decent opposition, one realises that the lack of respect that the PN still has towards those who had entrusted it with representation, and the electorate in general is frankly shocking.

Talk about men and women stuck in high towers!

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