Sociologist from Malta

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

AD Should look ahead

Michael Briguglio

The Times Wednesday, 19th March 2008

Alternattiva Demokratika's general election is what it is, no more and no less. AD achieved a bad result in the local council elections too. No councillor was elected. Within the local council context, there is no electoral law which makes things difficult for small parties. But should AD cease to exist? I, for one, disagree. I believe that AD should look forward and do away with self-righteous bitterness and unrealistic aspirations. Move on!

It is true that, as far as general elections go, the electoral system does not favour small parties. As I see it, however, it is useless whining on this. It makes much more sense to get down to business and devise political strategies based on concrete reality rather than idealistic wish lists.

To begin with, an AD strategy aimed at changing the electoral system is a non-starter and will only encourage the larger parties to tilt away from such reform. If anything, this issue should be dealt with by independent civic-minded forces that aim to bring a balance between democratic representation and governability.

AD should do away with discourse, campaigns and initiatives that are larger than reality. It should also avoid "I-know-it-all-and-everyone-else needs-us" approaches. Instead, it should have realistic aspirations and be more down to earth. It should stop being bitter and should be honest with itself on its true size within the Maltese political context.

AD should aim to consolidate its results in certain previous local council and European elections. This in itself is very difficult and nothing is to be taken for granted - the current local council results are a case in point! Being an AD councillor myself (the only one who got elected twice in a row, in 2003 and 2006), I can assure everyone that this requires a lot of hard work. (In this regard, it is interesting to note the experiences of the British Green party. It does well in European and local elections - it is represented at European and local levels but, so far, has never got elected in general elections.)

AD should involve itself in a long political march rather than an impulsive and larger-than-life strategy. Politics is not a wish list but is deeply related to the particular political, cultural, ideological and economic realities of a particular society.

Voters are not brainless idiots but weigh things out before voting. And, yes, in general elections it is not surprising that 98 per cent of the electorate vote for governments and stability. A look at value surveys in Malta (which have been carried out since the 1980s and which form part of the World Value Survey) easily confirms the value priorities of Maltese people.

While continuing to give importance to environmental issues, AD should also embrace social-oriented ideology and discourse, which is in synch with the material aspirations of thousands of Maltese people. Issues such as the family, the cost of living, work and security are cases in point.

AD had a wrong strategy for this general election. Period. I have been saying this for a long time and I predicted such an outcome given the wrong strategy, which was not realistic, was too negative and was too cut off from various aspirations the Maltese people had. However, I did not go public as I did not wish to harm the party.

I would like to augur a prosperous future for AD but for this to come about there has to be a sober and realistic analysis and changes eventually made. Unrealistic expectations can only result in deep disillusionment. In sum, I believe that AD should carry out an open, sober and democratic debate within its ranks, giving a level playing field to its activists, including those who left or were sidelined.

Mr Briguglio represents Alternattiva Demokratika - the Green party in the Sliema local council.

1 comment:

La delirante said...

Your points are very interesting and thought provoking. I also believe that the strategy used perhaps was not the best one and in fact could have definitely been better. I don't fully agree, however with your suggestion that AD should be honest on its true size within the Maltese political context. Though I get your point, I think that many people agree with most of AD's policies and ideas but they are afraid of changing and voting for a party that is not that strong at the moment. Whenever I have said I volunteer for AD when I have the chance, it's amazing that almost everybody without fail tell me that it is a lost cause, that why do I waste my time?, that they agree with AD but "AD will never win". Of course, if nobody gives them a chance they won't. Needless to say, the party's strategy should also improve to give confidence. As the only person who didn't give me the lines above said, this country would not be the same with AD, someone needs to be really interested in saving the few trees and birds that we have left, "I don't want to live in a concrete island" another one told me...that's kind of refreshing, don't you think?