Sociologist from Malta

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Green spring approaches

Michael Briguglio

The Times, March 1 2013

It is a pleasure chairing Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party in this electoral campaign. Our campaign is based on three years of hard work to have a comprehensive manifesto, of many meetings with civil society and of doing our utmost to make our voice heard in public.

AD’s candidates are showing that politics can be based on clear policies and principles rather than gimmicks, supermarket politics, mud-slinging and spin. One knows where one stands with us.

We are not in Parliament and we have already been influential in various issues, from divorce to EU membership, from raising awareness on the environment to raising consciousness on disability issues. AD has constantly been years ahead of other parties on so many issues.

Just imagine how more effective we will be in Parliament. Here, AD will be the progressive voice of reason. We will build bridges were necessary, beyond partisan tribalism. We will propose legislation that other political parties do not dare suggest in fear of selfish lobbies.

As regards social justice, we will propose an increase in the minimum wage and a drive for decent jobs rather than precariousness.

We will propose real rights for persons with disability, including an increase in the disability pension and true accessibility.

We will propose sustainable and decent pensions and justice for pensioners who are being robbed of their full pension. Examples of this include former British Services pensioners, former Barclays and former-Electricity Board pensioners.
Inclusive education, the defence of public services and the welfare state will also be a top Green priority to ensure that poverty does not increase.

We will also propose concrete measures to bring down the price of medicines, with practices that are common in other EU countries with lower prices.

With regard to civil rights, we will propose full equality for LGBT persons, including same-sex marriage.

We will also propose the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use to stop criminalising drug victims and users.

Freedom of expression through culture will also be a Green priority, as is investment in culture, the arts, music and libraries.

We will propose a true reform of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, giving priority to the environment. We will also propose the abolition of hunting in spring and give land where illegal development occurred (such as Armier) back to the public. We will also make clear proposals on animal rights, animal welfare, energy and water.

In Parliament, we will ensure the Europeanisation of governance. Whether in coalition or in opposition, we will act as a bridge between other parties. We will participate in parliamentary committees and we put forward sensible proposals.

We will speak up for sustainable finance – free from senseless spending sprees so common by incumbents at election time. We will also ensure that the appointment of top public officials are based on meritocracy rather than partisan interests. They will have to be approved by Parliament following a public hearing rather than being yes-men who are chosen by ministers.

The Green party will table proposals for a Whistleblower’s Act in the fight against corruption. Party financing and electoral reform will be high on our agenda.

AD will pursue its historic role as the voice of secularisation in Maltese politics through constitutional changes based on pluralism, respect and democracy.

MPs from other parties will no longer be able to keep avoiding and ditching issues such as those mentioned above. They will be free to agree or disagree with our proposals but they will, ultimately, be held accountable by the public for their positions.

The fact that Malta will have more than two parties in Parliament will also mean that the country will join all the rest of Europe in having true parliamentary pluralism. Even countries smaller than Malta, such as San Marino and Liechtenstein, have more than two parties in Parliament. Why should Malta deserve less?

Discerning voters have the facility to move away from the stagnant two-party system and elect AD in Parliament. The hundreds of voters who want to protest against the system by not voting can make an act of history by collecting their voting document and voting Green. This is far more effective that staying home and retaining the status quo.

Voters who have a mind of their own can really make history this time around. I encourage such voters to be the protagonists
of the 2013 election and of trying to persuade others to do the same.

With 2,000 votes in a district, a green MP will be elected. The Green spring will come to life.

Michael Briguglio is chairperson of Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party

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