The Malta Independent 23 October 2017, Monday

Is Malta slowly becoming an elective monarchy?

Joe Cassar Monday, 12 June 2017, 08:19 Last update: about 5 months ago

Some weeks before the general election 2017, my wife and I were passing through Naxxar on our way to a wedding. Hours before the PL meeting there were already stalls lined up with memorabilia.  One T-shirt, depicting Joseph Muscat as king caught my eye. Albeit a clear metaphor, the phrase still set me thinking. Knowing myself I usually ponder upon a thought and try to extrapolate what's behind it.  The election result sealed my thinking process.  To make my theory more explainable I will recount a story that will take people back in late medieval times.

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High up on the hill there was a beautiful castle with its king and queen.  The king is of course surrounded by his curia regis.  This is his council of advisors and ministers and is usually headed by the king's chancellor.  The latter was referred to as the hand of the king during the middle ages. 

In the fertile valleys around the kingdom lived all the people happily working their fields, grazing their sheep and herding the cattle. Small villages or hamlets surrounded the fields with their dedicated craftsmen. They all lived in harmony and never ever questioned the way the king and his advisors lived in the castle.  In all fairness, they all knew the king and his advisors together with the queen and her entourage, lived a lavish life. Notwithstanding, this way of life was something they viewed as impossible to achieve in their existence.  Depending on the generosity of the king, every so often someone from his court and occasionally the king himself, would come down from the castle and bear gifts to the peasants. Little gifts compared to the regality he lived by but they were enough for the humble peasants.

Harmony reigns supreme if the balance of things remains as above.  Problems start when the king or his sheriff/councilor starts taxing the peasants and villagers and worse still begins taking away their crops as part payment of heavy taxation. Enter Robin Hood and his merry men.  This British folklore character came into existence NOT to question in any way the lavish or corrupt lifestyle happening in the castle BUT to save the people from heavy taxation and the sheriff stealing their belongings. Unrest ONLY happens when the people's pockets and livelihood are threatened.

44% of Maltese and Gozitans post election said "Oh My God how come with all the alleged corruption in the castle we have this result?" 55% answered "As long as our king leaves us in peace to work the fields, graze the sheep, herd the cattle and practice our crafts and earn a decent livelihood we will leave the king alone. Don't you see that our children were given a job, and our family is doing better? What if we elect a new king? He will change the whole curia regis and make it as transparent as ever BUT then we risk the menial job of our children and a change in the taxation system.  Above all, we have no real proof of wrongdoing."

The balance of things will change of course when the king will be forced to take tough decisions, when he will be faced with real economic constraints, when it will become more evident that the king and his court is living off the hard work of the peasants. It is the peasants who end up paying for the king and his castle.

I will end this article with the same phrase I wrote some weeks back, "al buon intenditor poche parole."

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