Sociologist, Local Councillor, Politician from Malta
MEP Candidate - Partit Nazzjonalista (EPP).

Monday, January 29, 2018

Celebration of the fake - Michael Briguglio

Picture: Karel Appel - Mask Face (Lavender) , 1978 

The latest movie on Winston Churchill, Darkest Hour, is presented to the public as a film based on historic facts. It however transpires that one of the main scenes, the one where Churchill consults ordinary people in the underground, is fake.
Historic facts may have plural readings, but inserting fake encounters in what is meant to be a factual portrayal is not on. Indeed, why should a film producer need to fabricate history, when fact is often stranger than fiction?
The fake can also be detected in public discourse. A recent example of this was Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s dubbing of the V18 as ‘authentic’ during its launch. It then transpired that one of its four opening shows was very similar to Amsterdam’s ‘Turn on the Lights’ four years ago.
Indeed, this launch looked like a hyperreal simulation, especially when the same Muscat advised us not to join the European Union back in 2003 and spent his opposition years criticising everything related to Laurence Gonzi’s government, including Renzo Piano’s project at the entrance of the same city.
By now many of us have got used to Muscat’s discursive style. Opposing something in opposition but claiming it for himself or going a step further in government. Telling us one thing and doing the opposite, promising action but providing fluff. In short, this is a government based on the fake, on simulation, on post-truth.
For how can we define it otherwise, when so many policies are based on deceit and feeble foundations?
Take the sale of passports. Shrouded in secrecy, it seems to have become the government’s only hope for sustainable finance. Without these sales, Malta would not have had a surplus last year. Given that the government keeps expanding the public sector for partisan reasons, public finance will keep being addicted to such sales.
Two of government’s flagship projects, the privatisation of hospitals and the construction of the ‘American’ University of Malta’ in Żonqor are as fake as can be. They were not part of Labour’s electoral programme in 2013, they are increasingly looking like property speculation projects, and their projected outcomes are at best very flimsy.
Malta’s economic growth itself may be built on sand. Sure, the economy is growing. But we are becoming overdependent on construction and spinoffs from passport sales. How sustainable is this? How long will it last? To me, Edward Scicluna’s economic projections are based on electoral and not economic timelines. Will the public have to pick up the pieces once the ruling elite leaves power?
The cherry on the fake cake is the government’s talk of freedom and civil liberties. True, Malta is a high performer in LGBTIQ rights, and the matter is now mostly closed following parliamentary consensus. But Labour cannot keep getting away with milking this issue every time it is taken to task about other matters.
For how can a government boast of protecting freedom when its critic, Daphne Caruana Galizia, was blown up? How can Muscat have the gall to speak about whistle-blowers when Jonathan Ferris and Maria Efimova have their lives at risk? What freedom is this when current legislation allows us to offend religion but cannot protect journalists who investigate Henley & Partners and Pilatus Bank?
Muscat may be a master salesman and showman to his public. But behind his smile I do not see depth. I just see the ambition to have it good while it lasts and to do anything possible to keep power in the meantime. I see his dependency on collaborators such as Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi who benefit from impunity as corruption runs riot.
Those of us who are trained to value evidence, sustainability and integrity can see through the deliberate fake style of Muscat, but we know that he fuels his strength through the politics of the least common denominator, even if this damages the common good.
Yet we also know that no government is eternal. Our duty is to equip ourselves and others to see the dangers behind the smile. We need to deconstruct fake politics to construct a politics for the common good.

Il-Liberta’ ta’ l-Espressjoni taht Gvern bla ruh - Michael Briguglio

Stampa: Keith Haring - TV man with barking dog (1983)
Il-Mument, 29 ta' Jannar 2018

Pajjizna jippermetti li toffendi r-religjon, izda ma jippermettix li tikkrikita lil Pilatus Bank jew lil Henley and Partners.

Din hija wahda mill-kontradizzjonijiet li nghixu kuljum taht il-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat, gvern li jilliberalizza kollox sakemm ma jolqotx lill-oligarkija. Filfatt, filwaqt li l-offiza tal-villipendju hija dekriminalizzata, l-istess ligi ta’ Malta ma tipprotegix gurnalisti li qed jaghmlu xogholhom minn theddid ta’ kumpaniji kbar.

Hekk gara meta l-Bank Pilatus u Henley and Partners hadu azzjoni kontra gurnalisti u gazzetti indipendenti li kienu qed jinvestigaw kwistjonijiet rispettivi bhall-Panama Papers u l-bejgh tac-cittadinanza.

Ghalhekk huwa importanti li ftit tal-granet ilu giet immressqa private member’s bill parlamentari appoggjata mill-Partit Nazzjonalista. Din tipproponi li kazi legali internazzjonali maghrufin bhala ‘SLAPP’ kontra gurnalisti Maltin ma jintuzawx bhala ghodda kontra l-liberta’ ta’ l-espressjoni. Dan ifisser li jekk dan it-tip kaz jintrebah barra, m’ghandux jigi ezegwit f’Malta. Ir-raguni hi li dawn il-kazijiet kemm il-darba jigu imposti spejjez legali esorbidanti fuq il-gurnalisti li jibqghu minghajr l-ebda ghazla hlief li jirtiraw dak li kitbu minhabba l-ispejjez legali.

Ghalhekk, dak li qed tipproponi l-oppozizzjoni Nazzjonalista tipprotegi lill-gurnalisti Maltin permezz ta’ ligi nazzjonali kontra din it-tip ta’ manuvra.

Ghandna nkunu grati lejn gurnalisti li qed jaghmlu xogholhom u jinvestigaw kazijiet ta’ korruzzjoni, governanza hazina u materji ohra ta’ interess pubbliku. L-istess ghandna nghidu ghall-attivisti u politici li jahdmu f’dan ir-rigward.

Ezempju kurrenti huwa l-MEP David Casa li bhala rapprezentant tal-Maltin fil-Parlament Ewropew, qieghed jimpenja ruhu fil-ġlieda kontra l-korruzzjoni u l-ħasil tal-flus. Il-Parlament Ewropew m’huwiex ‘taghhom l-Ewropej’ bhal ma jipprova jghidilna Joseph Muscat b’mod popolist. Il-Parlament Ewropew huwa taghna l-Ewropej, ghaliex ahna Maltin u Ewropej. U nzid li imnalla qeghdin fl-Unjoni Ewropeja, ghaliex li kieku bqajna barra kien ikun hemm wisq iktar opportunita’ biex ikun hemm abbuz tal-poter u korruzzjoni.

Irrid infakkar li ghaddew iktar minn 100 jum mill-qtil brutali tal-gurnalista Daphne Caruana Galizia, qtil li jirraprezenta l-ikbar attakk possibli fuq il-liberta’ ta’ l-espressjoni. Daphne kixfet bosta kazijiet ta’ korruzzjoni u kriminalita’ organizzata.

Nafu li gew arrestati tliet minn nies b’knnessjoni mal-bomba li qatlitha, izda jidher ma sar l-ebda progress minn hemm il-hawn.  Sa llum ma hemm l-ebda hjiel li l-awtoritajiet identifikaw lil min ikkummisjoni, ippjana jew orkestra dan il-qtil.

Ghahekk il-Council of Europe Platform for the Promotion of Journalism, u numru kbir ta’ ghaqdiet internazzjonali dwar il-liberta’ ta’ l-espressjoni u l-governanza tajba qed ikomplu juru t-thassib dwar is-saltna tad-dritt, il-korruzzjoni u l-protezzjoni tal-gurnalisti f’pajjizna.

Sfortunatament il-magna tal-propaganda tal-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat tipprova taghmel minn kollox biex turi stampa ohra. Tipprova tnessina mill-panama papers u mill-iskandli relatati mal-bejgh tal-gid komuni. 

Tipprova tnessina minn nuqqasijiet tal-Korp tal-Pulizija, li jibqa’ ma jinvestigax kwistjonijiet bhall-Panama Papers.  Tipprova tnessina mit-thassib tal-Prim Imhallef u ta’ l-Ombudsman dwar in-nuqqas ta’ kollaborazzjoni ta’ l-Avukat tal-Gvern u l-Pulizija mal-qrati.

Malta hi mmexxija minn gvern li jitkellem dwar il-liberta’ izda li jipprova jaghlaq halq dawk li jfittxu l-verita’ dwar il-korruzzjoni u l-kriminalita’ organizzata.

Ghandna Prim Ministru li jiftahar bl-ikbar arroganza li jirreagixxi biss ghal kummenti ta’ Prim Ministri. Prim Ministru li jahseb li maggoranza elettorali ittih drittijiet divini li jigu l’fuq mis-saltna tad-dritt.

Ghandna Prim Ministru li jibbaza l-poter tieghu fuq politika ta’ patrunagg, ta’ pjaciri, ta’ xejn m’hu xejn: l-aqwa li nakkwistaw il-voti u naqdu l-interessi ta’ oligarkija.

Il-liberta’ ta’ l-espressjoni f’pajjizna hi kompromessa minn Gvern bla ruh. Izda l-ebda gvern ma jezisti ghal dejjem, u ghalhekk ghandna nuzaw lehhinna biex nikkonfermaw dan il-fatt.





Monday, January 22, 2018

Aleatory Politics - Michael Briguglio

Times of Malta, 22 January 2018

The aleatory refers to chance, to random encounters: like throwing a die. Some years ago this term gained some prominence among readers of French philosopher Louis Althusser, after the posthumous publication of his later works.
In a recent talk at the Works In Progress Seminar Series (WIPSS) within the Faculty of Arts at the University of Malta, Norbert Bugeja applied the concept in his interpretation of The Return, a Pulitzer prize-winning memoir written by Libyan-American writer Hisham Matar.
The Return was published in 2016 and relates to the author’s own return to his native Libya to seek explanations regarding the disappearance of his father, Jaballa, in 1990. A dissident against the Gaddafi dictatorship, Jaballa was likely murdered during the infamous Abu Salim prison massacre in Tripoli in 1996.
On the same day of the execution of 1,270 prisoners, Hasham Matar was closely inspecting Manet’s Execution of Emperor Maximilian at the National Gallery in London. In the former’s words, this painting “evokes the inconclusive fate of my father and the men who died in Abu Salim”.
Fast forward to the WIPSS talk. Bugeja observed the aleatory encounter between the son’s viewing of the painting and the father’s execution. He then proceeded to observe other aleatory encounters related to Libya in the recent past.
For example, Saif Gaddafi was being groomed to replace his father, Muammar, as Libya’s supreme ruler. But who would have predicted that the self-immolation of a retailer in Tunisia would set the Arab world alight through the Arab Spring?
The Arab Spring itself was characterised by aleatory encounters: the outcomes in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria differ.  Indeed, though much social change takes place through processes which are captured and explained through empirical social-scientific methods, at times there are also ruptures and shifts that might have or might not have taken place. Such encounters are provisional and can be influenced by a plurality of factors.
Very often economic readings are given to social changes, but one can mention so many other factors, ranging from the cultural to the technological, from mere coincidence to force majeure, and from character traits in leaders to the logic of numbers. For example, the widespread use of social media during the Arab Spring enabled protesters to communicate their grievances to each other and to the outside world.
Hence, the concept of the aleatory shows us that various social and political events are better understood after they occur. Long gone is the age of prophets: instead we have plural readings of history and at best projections of future possibilities.
This takes me to an article by Godfrey Baldacchino, another university colleague, who wrote recently (on December 30) about Labour’s prospects at the next general election.
Baldacchino told readers that “the 2008 election was the only election in Malta’s parliamentary history – which will be 100 years old in 2021 – to have returned the same political party to power for a third successive term. But only just”.
Thus, he argued, there could be some very serious challenges facing political parties in power in Malta once they hit the end of their second term. Baldacchino added that though comparisons are odious, and though Labour has a massive 35,000-vote majority, “history may have important lessons for us”.
In this regard, he warned that the longer a party is in power, the power of incumbency may eventually lose support, certain policies may alienate specific groups, and a desire for new faces comes about.
The latter is precisely what Joseph Muscat has promised to tackle, though I myself am not so sure if this is a deviating tactic, especially as he clearly is Labour’s best electoral asset.
If Muscat really decides to go, who will replace him? Someone tainted with bad governance, or someone who does not enjoy the blessing of Muscat’s inner circle? And what will the impact of this be? Will different factions unite, or will implosion result?
As Althusser warned us, we cannot predict such encounters in advance: they are aleatory. And the same may hold for the fortunes of the Nationalist Opposition: down according to surveys, but not looking out in relation to its internal rebuilding. The future lasts a long time.

Vuci ta' xiex? Michael Briguglio


Il-Mument, 21 ta' Jannar 2018

Fis-sistema politika Maltija, iz-zewg partiti politici kbar kemm il-darba iservu ta’ umbrella wiesgha li tigbor tahtha diversi identijiet, gruppi, vucijiet u klassijiet socjali. Nistghu nghidu li kemm il-Partit Nazzjonalista kif ukoll il-Partit Laburista it-tnejn huma ankrati vicin ic-centru politiku, ghalkemm minn daqqiet ixeqilbu iktar lejn ix-xellug jew il-lemin.

F’dawn iz-zminijiet, l-ideologija politika saret iktar flessibli milli kienet fil-passat. Dan jirrifletti il-bidliet socjali li qed nghixu: f’socjetajiet iktar miftuha, iktar sekulari u karatterizzati b’iktar diversita’. Kull wiehed u wahda minna x’aktarx nidentifikaw ma’ iktar minn identita’ wahda u kultant dawn ikunu anke kontradittorji.

Hemm min jghid li b’hekk l-ideologija spiccat u ghalhekk il-partiti politici ghandhom sempliciment jirriflettu l-iktar fehmiet popolari fis-socjeta’. Il-politika b’hekk issir loghba bejn min kapaxxi jmexxi ahjar fil-qafas ta’ dawn il-fehmiet.

Personalment nippreferi politika flessibli milli wahda assolutista u fundamentalista. Din ta’ l-ahhar twassal ghal politika minghajr djalogu, ghat-tirannija ta’ certi ideat u persuni, u ghall-mewt tad-djalogu: l-istess djalogu li hu essenzjali ghal demokrazija hajja.

Izda b’dan ma ridx nghid li l-principji m’humiex importanti. Anzi.

Nemmen li l-principji ghandhom iservu ta’ qafas ideologiku biex partit politiku ikollu direzzjoni u ghanijiet. Iservu ukoll sabiex min hu imsieheb jew jappoggja partit ikun jaf fejn qieghed. Izda l-principji iridu dejjem jitpoggew f’kuntest socjali. Per ezempju, kelma bhal liberta’ jista’ jkollha tifsira differenti f’kuntesti socjali differenti. F’socjeta’ demokratika, liberta’ kemm il-darba tigi mkejla skond id-drittijiet tac-cittadin u skond l-ghazliet li jaghmel. U ma’ l-ghazla wiehed irid ukoll jinkludi r-responsabilita’. Izda f’socjeta’ dittatorjali, il-liberta’ tista tkun hemm ghal grupp zghir biss.

Hekk kif il-Partit Nazzjonalista qed igedded lilu nnifsu, nemmen li huwa importanti li jadotta sett ta’ principji minghajr ma jaghmilhom xi duttrina dommatika. Il-wirt Demo-Kristjan tal-Partit ghandu jservi ta’ infrastruttura, izda ghandha tkun rispettata d-diversita’ socjali li qed nghixu fiha llum.

Principju importanti f’dan ir-rigward hu dak tad-dinjita’ umana, u mieghu dak tas-solidarjeta’. Ghandu jkun hemm politika li tappogja forom varji tal-familja kif ukoll lil dawk li qed jghixu hajja prekarja. Il-politika socjali m’ghandiex tinkoragixxi dipendenza fuq l-istat jew impozizzjonijiet minn fuq, izda minflok ghandha tinkoragixxi l-independenza, l-opportunitajiet, u li wiehed ikollu l-ghodda biex javvanza f’hajtu. L-edukazzjoni u t-tahrig huma essenzjali f’dan ir-rigward.

Principju iehor ta’ importanza huwa dak tas-sussidjarjeta’. Decizzjonijiet ghandhom jittiehdu mill-izghar awtorita’ kompetenti possibli. Dan ifisser li jekk per ezempju kunsill lokali huwa iktar kapaci jiddeciedi dwar kwistjonijiet lokali, il-gvern centrali m’ghandux jisraqlu l-poter. Minn naha l-ohra, jekk certi decizzjonijiet ghandhom ikun f’idejn l-Unjoni Ewropea minhabba l-implikazzjonijiet globali taghhom, allura tajjeb jigu decizi hekk.

Permezz tas-sussidjarjeta’, il-gvern ghandu jintervjeni biss meta individwi, familji, is-socjeta’ civili, jew gruppi privati ma jistghux jagixxu b’mod indipendenti. Ghalhekk l-awtonomija’ u d-dinjita’ jigu qabel id-dominanza ta’ l-istat.

Principju iehor u dak li jhares id-drittijiet ta’ generazzjonijiet tal-futur. Kuncetti bhas-sostenibilita’ u l-gid komuni ghandhom jigu qabel il-gratifikazzjoni instantanja jew dak li jaqbel biss fl-immedjat.

Tajjeb ukoll li l-politika ekonomika tkun wahda li turbot il-suq kompettitiv ma’  mudell socjali u ambjentali li jaghti importanza lix-xoghol dicenti u lill-opportunitajiet. B’hekk tigi evitata tellieqa sal-qiegh immexxija mir-reghba u l-prekarjat.

Hawnhekk, l-individwi jigu kkunsidrati mhux biss bhala konsumaturi fis-suq izda ukoll bhala cittadini li ghandhom drittijiet u dmirijiet.

Principji bhal dawn jistghu joffru opportunita’ lill-Partit Nazzjonalista fil-kostruzzjoni ta’ alternattiva ghall-Partit Laburista.

Il-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat introduca numru ta’ riformi pozittivi, izda qieghed jenfasizza ukoll ipoggi zvilupp bla razan qabel il-gid komuni, qed ibiegh il-wirt nazzjonali lill-investituri dubjuzi, qed ikun dipendenti fiskalment ghall-bejgh tac-cittadinanza, qed ihaxxen is-settur pubbliku permezz ta’ patrunagg politiku: Dan kollu permezz ta’ buzzieqa ekonomika li qed tigi ddettata mic-ciklu eleottrali u vvalentata bil-koruzzjoni.

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista ghandu jkun il-vuci ta’ dawk ta’ dawk li qed jghixu l-prekarjat, ta’ dawk li jridu governanza tajba, u ta’ dawk li jqisu l-gvern ta’ Muscat bhala wiehed bla ruh. Il-Partit Nazzjonalista ghandu jirrikoncilja haddiema u negozjanti li huma aljenati mill-mudell ekonomiku ma votanti mill-klassi tan-nofs li forsi qed jghixu l-kumdita’ izda jridu tip ta’ politika iktar gusta.

Ghal dan il-ghan tajjeb li l-Partit jikkomissjona studji socjologici biex jinvestiga’ l-htigijiet, l-identitajiet u l-aspirazjonijiet ta’ zminijietna. Dawn l-istudji b’hekk iservu biex ikun hemm evidenza soda ghall-politika f’socjeta’ li qed tinbidel. Nikteb iktar dwar dan f’artiklu fil-futur qrib.



Monday, January 15, 2018

Should the PN have an ideology? Michael Briguglio

Appears as 'A Nationalist Ideology' in Times of Malta, 15 January 2018.

Roderick Pace (January 9) makes a very important case for the ideological direction of the Nationalist Party.
Pace says that the PN should not anchor itself into monolithic dogmas, but should instead promote Christian Democratic values such as the respect for human dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity and future generations. He also says that such values should be accompanied with evidence-based policymaking which can help respond to the changing society of our times.
Pace adds that in today’s secular societies there are both different value systems as well as overlapping commonalities. He adds that moral dilemmas should be resolved through pluralistic, democratic methods and people should be entitled to follow their personal moral codes “as long as they do not hurt others or undermine the common good”.
I personally agree with this perspective, and like Pace, I add that both Christianity and Catholicism themselves are subject to plural interpretations and orientations. Hence, I believe that while the PN should not shy away from its Catholic inspiration, it should do this within an ideological framework that respects diversity and the values referred to above, which I will elaborate upon.
Human dignity and solidarity should be seen within the context of an open and free society. Support should be given to plural family forms as well as to those who are living precarious lives. Rather than having such support being based on top-down impositions which can encourage welfare dependency, the State should encourage self-help and individual advancement. Education and training play key roles in this regard.
Subsidiarity is the principle through which matters ought to be handled by the smallest competent authority. Hence, for example, local councils should have proper authority over their respective localities, and the state should not usurp their power through excessive centralisation. On the other hand, decisions which are best left to the European Union, such as those with global or federal implications, should be decided upon accordingly.
Subsidiarity also holds that governments should only intervene when individuals, families, civil society or private groups cannot act independently. In short, this principle puts the autonomy and the dignity of the individual before the dominance of the State.
The PN should be the voice of the disenchanted, the precarious, those who want good governance
The protection of future generations can be carried out through the politics of responsibility. Here, policy making should not be based on short-term quick fixes and ill-advised instant gratification. It should be guided by concepts such as sustainability, dignity and the common good.
Other principles may be added to this list, for example the promotion of a social market economy. Here, economic competitiveness should be tied up with a social model that gives importance to decent employment and opportunities, rather than a cutthroat race to the bottom dictated by greed and precariousness.
A social market economy should look at individuals not simply as consumers with instant disposable needs, but also as citizens whose rights are accompanied by responsibilities towards present and future generations.
Such values and others may represent a tall order for the PN, but I believe that they also represent a window of opportunity in the party’s construction of a true alternative to the Labour Party.
Labour has introduced various positive reforms, but it is also emphasising promotion of endless construction at the expense of the common good, the selling of Malta’s national heritage and assets to dubious investors, the fiscal dependency on passport sales, and the expansion of the public sector through partisan patronage rather than real need: all within an economic bubble that is dictated by the electoral cycle and poisoned by corruption. Will this result in a generational malaise?
The PN should be the voice of the disenchanted, the precarious, those who want good governance, and those who feel that Muscat’s government represents a soulless State. It should reconcile workers who feel left out of Muscat’s bubble with middle class voters who may be enjoying a good quality of life but feel disenchanted with the Muscat model of governance.
The PN should also carry out an extensive sociological exercise to verify, gauge and investigate key concerns, identities and aspirations of our times. I will write about this in a future article.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mozzjoni f’waqtha - Michael Briguglio


Il-Mument 14 ta' Jannar 2018

“Ghandu jkun hemm talba formali lill-Gvern sabiex sabiex jieħu l-art fiż-Żonqor lura mingħand Sadeen u jagħtih lura lill-Maltin”.  Dan kien il-messagg tal-kunsilliera tal-Partit Nazzjonalista fil-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Marsaskala, f’mozzjoni imressqa din il-gimgha.

Din il-mozzjoni takkumpanja mozzjoni imressqa mill-grupp Nazzjonalista fil-parlament ta’ Malta, u hi konformi ma’ dak li qed jitolbu ghaqdiet ambjentali bhall-Front Harsien ODZ, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien ghall-Ambjent Ahjar u r-Ramblers Association of Malta. Dan qed jitolbuh ukoll partiti ohrajn ta’ l-oppozizzjoni, gazzetti indipendenti u nies ta’ rieda tajba. Ta’ min infakkar li fl-2015 Malta rat l-ikbar dimostrazzjoni ambjentalista ta’ kull zmien, bl-iskop li z-Zonqor jigi protett.

Ilkoll nafu li minkejja l-pompa ta’ propaganda mill-Gvern Laburista u minkejja l-preferenzi li inghata Sadeen minn fuq dahar il-poplu Malti, l-American University of Malta falliet bil-kbir milli tilħaq il-miri tagħha u saħansitra ukoll naqset dawn il-miri bin-nofs. Nafu li l-Universita’ s’issa gabet biss 15-il student u qed tkecci bosta akkademici.

Nittama li l-Partit Laburista jisma l-ghajta popolari li tezisti sabiex iz-Zonqor jigi protett. Minflok ma jirreagixxi b’negattivita’, jista’ jkun pozittiv u jipprova jaghmel l-almu tieghu ghal kunsens nazzjonali. J’alla l-Universita’ taghmel success, izda sa dan it-tant m’ghandniex nissagirfikaw art daqshekk prezzjuza. Sa fejn naf jien is-success ta’ Universita’ jiddependi minn kriterji akkademici u sostenibbli, u mhux minn kemm hemm veduta tajba tal-bahar.

F’dan l-artiklu, pero’, nixtieq naghmel emfasi fuq ir-rwol tal-Kunsilliera fil-politika. Fil-kas taz-Zonqor, il-grupp ta’ kunsilliera Nazzjonalisti kien proattiv u pprezenta mozzjoni ghal-gid komuni. Nemmen li din il-prassi ghandha tigi addottata iktar frekwentament b’hidma kongunta ta’ kunsilliera Nazzjonalisti u ohrajn li jixtiequ jinghaqdu maghhom.

Jezistu bizibilju ta’ kwistjonijiet ta’ importanza kemm lokali kif ukoll nazzjonali fejn il-kunsilliera jistghu ikunu proattivi. U jekk dan jaghmel sens f’kunsilli fejn il-Partit Nazzjonalista ghandu minoranza ta’ siggijiet, ahseb wara kemm jaghmel iktar sens f’kunsilli fejn tezisti maggoranza Nazzjonalista.

Qed nitkellem mhux biss dwar kwistjonijiet ta’ kostruzzjoni u zvilupp, izda ukoll fuq kwistjonijiet ohra li jolqtu direttament lir-residenti. Dawn ivarjaw minn infurzar sa’ sigurta, minn devoluzzjoni ta’ art pubblika sa metodi ta’ finanzjament, u minn introduzzjoni ta’ bye-laws sa l-importanza ta’ politika ibbazata fuq evidenza, nghidu ahna permezz ta’ social impact assessments u community profiling.

Ghalhekk tajjeb li fil-hidma ghall-elezzjonijiet tal-kunsilli lokali tas-sena d-diehla, ikun hemm emfasi sabiex il-gruppi nazzjonalisti fil-kunsilli rispettivi jibnu fuq it-tajjeb li diga’ qed isir u fejn hemm bzonn  ikunu iktar proattivi permezz ta’ mozzjonijiet kongunti, hidma mas-socjeta’ civili u prezenza kontinwa fuq il-midja.

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista introduca il-kunsilli lokali 25 sena ilu. Jemmen fis-sussidjarjeta’ biex b’hekk ma jkunx hemm eccess ta’ poter f’idejn il-Gvern centrali u biex il-residenti ikollhom vuci akbar f’kwistjonijiet lokali. Ghall kuntrarju, il-Gvern Laburista qed ihott dan bil-mod il-mod u qed jiccentralizza l-poter f’idejn grupp zghir ta’ nies. Jehtieg li nergghu naghmlu l-kunsilli konformi ma’ l-iskop originali taghhom.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Panama Papers & Malta: In the European Atlas of Democratic Deficit

My article 'Panama Papers and Malta' has been published in the European Atlas of Democratic Deficit. The article discusses the implications of this issue on the 2017 general election and was written before the brutal murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The Atlas may be downloaded from this link:  http://www.liberalforum.eu/en/publications.html


Reference: Briguglio, Michael (2017): Panama Papers and Malta. In M. Hodun (Ed.): European Atlas of Democratic Deficit. (Poland: European Liberal Forum), pp.64-67.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Zonqor Consensus - Michael Briguglio

Times of Malta, 8 January 2018

Last year was a very dark year for Maltese politics. Of course, it had its winners, most notably Joseph Muscat and the Labour Party. Malta also witnessed economic growth and other positive indicators. But the general aura was negative, confrontational and divisive. The brutal murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia cast a cloud of depression, disbelief, sadness and despair among many people.
At the same time, a recent survey in the newspaper Malta Today showed the majority of Maltese people have a positive outlook for 2018. Surely, this is a major challenge for the Nationalist Opposition. It must serve as a strong opposition particularly on issues which are crying for change, such as corruption, transport and security.
But it should also not appear as a nagging spoilsport amid the Labour celebration. It should also show that one other side of glad majorities is made up of people living precarious lives.
The PN should also take a leaf out of its past successes and of Labour’s own media strategy by focusing hard on how to set the agenda. By this I am not only referring to the agenda in media bubbles, but also to the plural agendas of people in their everyday lives.
In this regard the PN started off the new year with a sound political move that can help bring internal and external consensus on issues with wide public support.
Essentially, the PN is calling for the transfer back of public ODZ land in Żonqor, Marsascala. The land is currently being leased to Jordanian investors for the construction of part of the private American University of Malta.
The other part of the university, which is situated in Cospicua, has so far been a spectacular failure. It has a grand total of 15 students, and the promised lucrative jobs to academics are crumbling. Hence, it is only logical to argue that Malta should not sacrifice ODZ land for what increasingly looks like a white elephant. Indeed, why on earth should a university be developed on the coast on protected land?
This is why the Front Ħarsien ODZ, environmental NGOs and Opposition parties protested against the original plan for a university on Żonqor in the biggest-ever environmental protest, in 2015, resulting in the reduction of the area of ODZ development.
Now the government can go a step further and agree with the PN’s parliamentary motion and declare the reopening of negotiations so as to reclaim the public land in question.
Indeed, wouldn’t it be great if 2018 started off with a sign of goodwill from politicians from all parties, environmental NGOs, local councillors and the public so that the area in question became part of the National Inwadar Park?
We’ll wait and see.
Hopefully, some Labour parliamentarians will be ready to discuss this within their party’s parliamentary group.
Not that the Labour Party has given them time to reflect on the PN’s proposal. Its communications office immediately reacted to the news by saying that the Nationalists were “hijacked by negative people” and that the AUM should start with the campus in Cospicua.
I cannot see what is negative about the Nationalist proposal, but I do see that the Labour reply does offer space for manoeuvre without losing face.
It would be a win-win situation if Malta really had another successful university and if this did not require the destruction of ODZ land for its success.
As far as I know, it is academic criteria and sustainability that dictate the success of a university, and not panoramic sea views.
The Żonqor issue is showing that the Opposition has a vital role to play in 2018. It can also show that coalitions of the willing can be formed on specific issues for the common good. God forbid that political parties and civil society agree on every issue: this is usually the stuff of dictatorships under the premise of false consensus.
But consensus on specific issues characterised by win-win scenarios could and should be pursued.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Partiti u Movimenti - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument, 7 ta' Jannar 2017

Meta l-Partit Nazzjonlista iddecieda li jxolji l-Forza Nazzjonali, ghamel l-ahjar ghazla fic-cirkostanza.

Il-Forza sfat telliefa fl-elezzjoni generali, u avolja l-idea ta’ koalizzjoni ghal governanza tajba kienet wahda f’waqtha, wiehed ma jistax jinjora r-rizultat li inkiseb.

Teoretikmant, izda, il-Forza Nazzjonali setghet topera ukoll bhala koalizzjoni fl-oppozizzjoni. Pero’ fil-verita’, l-atitudni ta’ Marlene Farrugia wara l-elezzjoni generali ma ghenet xejn biex dan isehh.

Dan ghaliex ftit jiem wara l-elezzjoni generali, hi uriet l-interess li ssir mexxej tal-Partit Nazzjonalista waqt li kienet fl-Partit Demokratiku. Wara li dan ma kienx possibli, ghamlet minn kollox biex tiskredita l-kampanja ghall-ghazla ta’ mexxej gdid tal-Partit Nazzjonalista. B’hekk kisret il-fiducja li ezistiet bejn iz-zewg nahat.

Ta’ min wiehed ifakkar li din kienet l-iktar kampanja miftuha u demokratika li qatt saret ghal mexxej ta’ partit politiku f’Malta. Differenti hafna minn kif saru l-affarijiet fil-partit ta’ Marlene wara l-elezzjoni generali.

Nittama li Marlene Farrugia taghraf li zbaljat bl-atitudni taghha u li tkun iktar kostruttiva fil-kontribuzzjoni taghha fil-parlament ta’ Malta. Per ezempju, bhala gest ta’ rieda tajba u ta’ konvinzjoni soda, nittama li hi u Godfrey Farrugia jappoggjaw il-proposta’ tal-Partit Nazzjonalista sabiex iz-Zonqor jinghata lura lill-poplu Malti. Ovjament, nittama wkoll li l-membri parlamentari Laburisti jaghmlu l-istess.

Nittama wkoll li jkun hemm ukoll hidma kongunta fuq materji ohra, skond il-kas, kif stqarr l-istess Partit Nazzjonalista meta xolja lill-Forza Nazzjonali.

Din it-tip ta hidma tista’ ssir ukoll mill-Partit Nazzjonalista ma’ korpi kostitwiti, ghaqdiet mis-socjeta’ civili u ohrajn. Hekk ghamel il-Partit meta mexxa l-moviment li permezz tieghu Malta ssiehbet fl-Unjoni Ewropea. U l-Partit Laburista tghallem min din l-istrategija fil-kisbiet ta’ bosta drittijiet civili.

Hekk kif il-Partit Nazzjonalista qed jibni l-istrategija tieghu ghall-isfidi elettorali li gejjin, nemmen li ghandu jizgura li jkun il-vuci per ezempju ta’ dawk li jemmnu fil-governanza tajba, li jixtiequ li pajjizna jkun wiehed fejn tirrenja n-normalita’ bhala msieheb fl-Unjoni Ewropea. U ghalhekk, il-Partit ghandu jahdem fil-qrib ma’ dawk kollha ta’ rieda tajba f’dan ir-rigward.

U halli nghiduha kif inhi: Jekk irridu l-governanza tajba din tista’ tigi biss jekk ikun hemm mandat elettorali ghaliha. Huwa biss il-Partit Nazzjonalista li jista’ jgheleb lill-Partit Laburista u jpoggi din il-materja fuq l-agenda nazzjonali.

Movimenti socjali li jahdmu fis-socjeta’ civili ghal dan il-ghan huma importanti hafna, ghax iqajmu kuxjenza, jimmoblizzaw lin-nies u jghafsu ghal bidliet. Izda l-istorja turi li dawn ikunu effettivi meta jahdmu flimkien ma’ partiti politici, li fl-ahhar mill-ahhar ghandhom il-jedd li jiggvernaw.

Barra minn hekk, bosta ghaqdiet li jkunu iffukati fuq materja wahda isibuha difficli jsostnu lilhom infushom f’kampanji twal. U c-cittadini jiddeliberaw fuq bosta kwistjonijiet fil-hajja ta’ kuljum. Lil’hinn mill-movimenti socjali, hemm ghexieren ta ‘eluf ta’ kostitwenti li l-vot taghhom hu importanti daqs dak ta’ l-attivisti, anke jekk il-vuci taghhom hija inqas vizibli fl-ahbarijiet.



Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Can social movements replace political parties? Michael Briguglio

Image result for social movement malta
Appears as 'Replacing political parties' in Times of Malta, 1 January 2018


Can social movements replace political parties? Politics today has become increasingly fragmented and unpredictable. Gone is the age of political parties with clear agendas and solid constituents. The voting base of many social democratic parties has been decimated, minority parties are on the increase, and a wave of populism is currently underway.
In Malta, Labour’s electoral strength represents one of the very few exceptions to the downfall of social democracy across the EU. On the other hand, the Nationalist Party has an uphill struggle to establish itself as the alternative government.
The other party in Parliament, Partit Demokratiku, is trying to seduce politicians, activists and voters from the PN, knowing that without the comfort of being on a big party list it has minimal chance of re-election. Like other small parties, it also knows that it can either act as a minor voice that can achieve minor concessions or practise the art of compromise to have a chance to be in power.
Following the brutal murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta has also witnessed a wave of protests and actions including the three mass demonstrations organised by Civil Society Network and the colourful activism of Occupy Justice, Kenniesa, Awturi and others. Such activism, which is based along the theme of justice and for good governance, represents the current social movement wave in the country. But how long can it last?
To answer this question we must understand what social movements are about. Modern societies have witnessed the rise of forces for change, ranging from workers’ unions to feminist organisations. The past decades have also witnessed an increase in other movements, such as environmentalist, peace, democratisation and localist organisations.
Some movements have remained actively consistent across the decades, as is the case with the environmentalist movement. Some environmentalists cooperate with state structures, while others are more autonomous.
Other movements have fizzled out and represented waves rather than consistency. A most recent example is the global Occupy Movement which occupied squares in various countries to protest against capitalist austerity.
The movement may have had noble aims through its horizontalist structures, but its insistence in seeing the state and political parties as inherently evil and monolithic led it to a dead end of sectarian activism. Such single-issue activism is less willing to compromise for the sake of effective governance and governing projects. It may mobilise strongly committed minorities, at least for some time, but long-term activism and support is much harder to achieve. Besides, people’s perceptions on single issues may change.
Instead, such movements should look at the state and political parties as forming part of a complex set of contradictory and dynamic social relations where alliances can be formed to reach goals. A synergy can be reached between movement organisations and political parties.
Some social movement organisations understood this. For example, Donald Trump’s success in the US can go back to the creation of the grassroots-based Tea Party movement which attracted disenchanted voters back into the Republican Party fold. In Spain, the new Podemos Party owes its success to the previous Indignados movement, and Britain’s Labour has become a serious threat to the Conservative Party also thanks to the activism of the momentum movement.
In Malta, Joseph Muscat’s Labour Party owes at least part of its success to the fact that it managed to unite different identity movements – most notably the LGBTIQ movement – under its banner, in a contradictory alliance that fully exploits the amoral familist ideology of patronage.
Which takes me back to the original question of this article. In my view, social movements are inherently political forces, and their best bet for social change is to create the widest coalitions possible. In democratic societies, such coalitions must involve political parties. This is even more the case in societies with high voter turnouts, such as Malta.
I strongly hold that social movements cannot replace political parties. I would prefer to see political parties and social movements as forming different poles which can complement each other despite their differences. And let us not forget that beyond social movements, there are myriads of silent constituents whose vote is as equal as that of activists, even if less visible in the news.