The recently set up pan-European party Libertas will be fielding its own Maltese candidate in the European Parliament elections. Gozitan Mary Gauci will return to the political fray as Libertas’ Malta leader after relinquishing her post, for personal reasons, as Azzjoni Nazzjonal’s deputy leader.
Ms Gauci, a civil servant, was posted by the government to work in Brussels for five months. During that time she saw for herself how other countries do their utmost to take advantage of EU funds and realised that Malta was not fulfilling a similar commitment.
Irish millionaire Declan Ganley set up Libertas last year and was a major force behind the Irish referendum that rejected the Lisbon Treaty. Yesterday, he was present for the official launch of the party in Malta and Ms Gauci’s electoral campaign and addressed a press conference.
He said that the movement opposed EU bureaucrats and lobbyists who have the right to initialise laws even though the citizens of the EU had not elected them. Mr Ganley said Libertas will run in all 27 member States and aims at electing more than 100 MEPs on its ticket, which is approximately one-eighth of EP seats.
Mr Ganley said the EP had no power to propose laws and was the only one of the big three institutions of the union that was directly elected by the people. He said Libertas stood for transparency, accountability and for giving power back to the people to let them decide their future rather than let unknown and unelected bureaucrats do it for them.
He further criticised all governments that have ratified the treaty, including Malta. Mr Ganley said that the Maltese prime minister signed the Lisbon treaty without even reading it and criticised the fact that the treaty was accepted in Parliament after a brief discussion. He said the treaty was ratified in similar circumstances across the bloc, with Hungary ratifying it before it was actually issued.
Asked where Libertas stood in the political spectrum, Mr Ganley said it would be tough to put the party in a box, but placed his party at the centre right.
Ms Gauci said Libertas was committed to bringing real reform to Brussels and complained that much has been said about problems, such as immigration, yet governments have not come up with a solution. “When we voted for EU accession,” she said, “we voted to keep our sovereignty, something which has been taken away.”
Mr Ganley said he was amused that the two political parties owned their own stations that ranked in the country’s top three. He described how polarisation was a common phenomenon in EU countries and that his own Ireland was mainly divided into two parties, “where people tend to vote for the party of their grandparents”. He said that there would be nothing wrong for Maltese people voting for Libertas on 6 June, as they would not be turning their back on the party they support.
He criticised politics in general, saying that political parties were run contrary to the EU’s competition rules. Mr Ganley attacked the EP’s political groupings saying that each group is held together by an agreement “to share a photocopier and a coffee machine”. He promised that Libertas would be different, and that by electing Mary Gauci the Maltese would have much more than a seat in the EP.
Up till now Ms Gauci is the only candidate being fielded by Libertas, but she did not exclude that the party would field another candidate. Former MEP candidate Robert Micallef is a member of Libertas.
Ms Gauci is the first woman to lead a local political party since Mabel Strickland led the Progressive Constitutional Party and was elected to Parliament in the 1962 general election.