The Malta Independent 16 December 2017, Saturday

Legitimate?

Alfred Sant Thursday, 7 December 2017, 07:48 Last update: about 8 days ago

A (non-Maltese) friend explained what in his view, is the huge difference within Western democracies between the political behaviour of left and right wing parties when they find themselves in opposition.

The first set out to see how they can in one way or another, win back the votes they have lost. As if following some quasi-automatic reflex, the second seek to contest the right of a left wing government to implement its projects. For the right, all opposition must start with the claim that those in government do not deserve to be there: one way or another, they are illegitimate.

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I had to agree his point is frequently confirmed by events, from Trump’s accusations that Barack Obama is not truly a US citizen and fraudulently became US President; to today’s PN (or a strong cabal within its structures) which has decided to place at the core of its criticism of the government, relentless claims about bad governance and corruption.

What is curious in this, is that when it realised that such an approach had left the Maltese people unconvinced, it turned to see how to mobilise the European Parliament (or better, part of it) around its banner.

As if the Maltese people do not retain the sovereign right to decide about the legitimacy of theirown government.

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The Oxfam report

A report published by Oxfam, names Malta alongside the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland as being well in line, under rules currently devised by the EU, to be classified a tax haven; a zone that is, through which corporations and rich people launder the funds they receive in profits or personal income.

What has been said by Oxfam, others also declare...though there has been much fanfare locally about how the European Parliament committee dealing with the Panama Papers scandal did not go so far in its final report. Yet, many members of that Committee do share Oxfam’s view, not least those who are in favour of tax harmonisation in Europe in order to establish a truly integrated single market.

People involved in the Maltese financial sector reject the label given to the island of being a tax haven. But I have been saying it for quite a while now: over the years these same people did next to nothing to clarify internationally how they – as professionals – go about their assignments. They let the government of the day assume exclusively the burden of “defending them”. Then, a number of cases highlighted by the international media did not help to improve matters.

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Choice

German socialists face a tough choice. They meant to go into Opposition so that in the coming four years, they could reassemble behind them supporters who had drifted away. When the negotiations between conservatives, liberals and greens to form a coalition collapsed, the call came for another “grand coalition” between conservatives and socialists, similar to the one in force before the elections.

It was the German President himself, a socialist, who first launched the idea – it is in the national interest, he said – and it is needed to guarantee the economic and social stability of the country. So the socialists could hardly ignore the call.

It’s the same scenario like for the two previous grand coalitions in which they played a part.

Still they know what the consequences will be should they join a “grand coalition”. They will continue to be identified with the conservatives among the people at large and they will continue to bleed popular support. 

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