Appeared as "Successful Green identity" in The Times, August 3, 2012
As the election draws nearer, it would make sense to elaborate on the identity of Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party and to see where the Greens differ from the blues and the reds.
I want to emphasise the term “identity” because I think that this is what really differentiates AD from the Nationalist and Labour parties. With AD one knows where one stands.
As a Green party, AD’s identity is built on key principles such as social justice, environmental protection, sustainability and civil rights.
Our green ideology, which marries social and ecological priorities, obviously puts us to the left of the PN and the PL, especially since we take the side of the oppressed, the exploited, the emarginated and those who want Malta to be a progressive society.
Indeed, in the present context, AD has the historical responsibility of being Malta’s progressive voice.
It has already had a huge impact in helping raise environmental awareness in Malta and it also played an important role in various environmental victories, the Front Against the Rabat golf course being just one example among many others.
The same can be said with regard to civil rights.
AD was instrumental in the introduction of divorce in Malta as we set the ball rolling by speaking on the issue for years and by writing to members of Parliament in 2010, presenting them with Italian and Irish divorce legislation, which, in turn, led to the setting up of the victorious Yes movement.
The victory of both the divorce and EU referenda shows that, in both cases, AD was the only Maltese political party to be on the right side of history. AD’s consistency and credibility played an important role in both campaigns, adding legitimacy to the Yes arguments.
In the near future, AD will play an important role in the introduction of civil rights and social reforms such as same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, proper family-friendly employment policies, decriminalisation of drugs for personal use, the right for IVF, more inclusive policies with respect to persons with disability, increase in the minimum wage, the struggle against precarious employment and the abolition of spring hunting.
AD’s identity also revolves around the opportunity to have a third voice in Parliament. This will help ensure a responsible and consistent approach to the country’s challenges. Progressive proposals that are badly needed will be presented in Parliament without being hostage to big business, tribal politics or, even worse, implosionary politics that promises everything to everyone.
AD’s vote cannot be taken for granted because it can determine the result of the next general election. This only gives us a bigger sense of responsibility to be Malta’s progressive voice. The behaviour of some backbenchers in the Nationalist Party camp who are keeping the country guessing every day is the total opposite of what AD’s presence in Parliament will be.
AD will have a clear programme and will work to implement it. If in a coalition, the programme will be mutually agreed with the party closest to our beliefs and will be binding on key votes such as money Bills.
On the contrary, the Nationalist and Labour parties act like a stagnant duopoly which, apart from being dependent on finances from big business, tries to exclude others from political systems and intrudes in people’s private lives, especially during elections.
Despite their differences, both the Nationalist and Labour parties share similarities. Both are held hostage by lobbies and both try to please everyone at the same time, albeit in a different way.
The PN has become a parody of itself, acting, through crisis management, to remain in power as long as possible. The main reason for this is to take full advantage of its incumbency and dish out as many favours as possible.
In the field of civil rights, the PN will be structured towards its confessional approach but will try to appear a bit more “modern” as the election approaches. This balancing act will ensure that nothing will change substantially.
The PN’s most important trump card, the economy, is also on shaky grounds, given that Malta is now in recession. I am not happy saying this and I acknowledge that relative economic stability was the biggest achievement of the Gonzi Administration. I sincerely augur that Malta’s economy does not remain in such a situation but I remind readers of harsh economic realities faced by thousands even when Malta was not in recession. The realities of those in precarious employment situations says much in this regard.
Labour, on the other hand, is using all sorts of opportunist strategies to achieve power. Its populism on fiscal policy, immigration and energy are cases in point. Populism may sell, yet, more often than not, it does not offer concrete and sustainable solutions. Actually, it may haunt those in power when the time comes. Trying to please everyone at the same time may win elections but may result in implosion when the honeymoon is over.
In Malta’s current political turmoil, one thing is sure. AD’s voice is clear, consistent and responsible. Despite not being in Parliament, the Green identity has already played an important role for the achievement of progressive changes in Malta. With the Greens in Parliament, such an impact can only improve.
The author, a sociologist, is chairman and spokesman for economic policy and culture of Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party.