Sociologist, Local Councillor, Activist from Malta

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mid-summer political reflections in Malta

I believe that as things stand, Labour will cruise to victory in the upcoming general elections in Malta. 

Joseph Muscat's government and party is using winning tactics, the economy is doing relatively well, and the opposition is not seducing voters' imagination.

The PN is missing the wood for the trees in basic consistuency issues like Sliema's overdevelopment.  Simon Busuttil is busy doing everything but mobilizing his consistuents. Genuine Nationalist councillors and activists in Sliema who are speaking up for residents are conspicuous by their solitude within the PN ranks. And many Nationalists have already given up on the chances of winning the next election. 

From what I see the PN is attempting to look 'new' by focusing on soft issues like animal welfare and sports, but is not daring to confront established oligarchs. One can say that the PL is doing this too - but the PL is also adopting many liberal (and popular) issues and is governing over good economic results, albeit characterised by social inequalities and questions of sustainability. Electorally, Labour's strategy seems to be paying off. 

The small parties, AD and PD, very often speak truth to power and have no political debts to big business interests. But both have very little chance of parliamentary election, though this could change with pre-election coalitions: something which has its opportunities and risks, yet which nobody seems to want. 

As things stand, the power of AD and PD is based on the 'threat' of winning votes which could go elsewhere. This is no small power, but maybe one should investigate other electoral strategies too. And AD's relative successes in local council elections should be built upon.

Within the social media there are all sorts of opinions about what is to be done in Malta. Some opinions represent widely-shared concerns on different issues or the general political scenario. 

Others are not so representative, despite their vociferous claims. Some critics of the big two parties find it very easy to criticize the small ones, yet somehow shy away from being active themselves in party politics. Some also speak of the need of some radical socialist messiah or some right wing populist to clean Malta up. Let's not go there please, unless we are delving into fiction. Politics takes place within a context. And I see no magical encounter which will suddenly displace the 2 party system. This could produce a nice novel though. 

Labour - bad governance and all - is winning the strategic game. It has so far managed to survive the Panama Papers scandal and other bad governance issues ranging from the new power station to social networks in politics and big business. 

Maybe most voters in Mediterranean Malta do not really give prime importance to such issues. Or maybe Simon Busuttil's opposition is not credible.

In the meantime, Labour is hinting at some progressive social measures in the upcoming budget. And I wouldn't be surprised if the Government finds reasons to stop some controversial development projects. This would be a political masterstroke which once again would outdo the current PN's slow, bland and unimaginative way of things.

Of course, a week is a long time in politics, and many things can happen before 2018. We will wait and see. 

Before someone rushes to conclusions, I am not a Labourite and I have no intention of contesting the upcoming general elections.  I  leave front-line party politics to others who are specialized in the field, and I am saying this out of respect. I prefer being active the way I am: as a Green local councillor, a progressive civil society activist and a public sociologist.

Happy summer to everyone!

(Appears in Malta Today as Labour – bad governance and all – is winning the strategic game18 August 2016)

More info on Malta election results:


Bonnici said...

I see a very bleak future for Malta. Both PL's misgovernance and blatant abuse of the environment are causing untold damage to the country. Shockingly, this modus operandi makes the party even more popular with the electorate because let's face it, most Maltese want "li jinqdew u li jdawwru lira" (at whatever cost). The PN surely wasn't as blatant in its misgivings but it seems to be still convalescencing from its record defeat. The electorate condemned the party to a term in opposition and the PN delegates extended this to two terms upon electing a weak leader. Besides, PN's timid opposition to the rape of the environment suggests that it would do the same when it is back in power. AD remains the best option but it is a small party possibly too stubborn to unite with others. It is very sad to live in the generation that is destroying what's left of Malta. There seems to be no hope.

lina caruana said...

My concern is mainly that no government can govern in Malta .Malta is ruled by outside sources of power one of which is the Construction industry to say the least. Other sources of power are obvious by their actions by which wrong doers are protected and victims penalized to keep their mouth shut. I am afraid this state of affairs is not so abhorred by the electorate because the sustenance of this mess comes from them. The electorate has blinkers on ready to accept corruption so long as someone gains from it without thinking of the insecurity created ,and that citizens need to struggle even in corrupt ways in self defense.