The Malta Independent 24 June 2018, Sunday

Contrasts

Alfred Sant Monday, 5 March 2018, 08:29 Last update: about 5 months ago

Between a situation where abortion is considered as a human right and another one where it is considered as an abomination – that is the contrast I note every week when transiting between Brussels or Strasbourg and Malta.

These past two weeks another contrast was just as glaring. Between a total freeze, less than zero temperatures in Brussels, and mild weather in Malta. Here, a warmish sun and in gardens, lizards coming to life after their winter sleep. There... that is, less than two hours and forty five minutes away by plane, frozen ponds in the middle of parks and where, unless you put on numerous layers of wool, you could freeze to death. (Yet, Brussels temperatures were less bleak than those experienced by neighbouring cities.) Was this a golden opportunity to publicize tourism to Malta?

The pity is that with the humidity that prevails in the Maltese islands and given the techniques used in constructing Maltese houses, one could still end up feeling colder here than in Brussels.  

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Shall we keep flying?

Over three days, the government felt the need – via the finance minister and the PM himself – to insist on the point that the current strong economic growth is not some “bubble” that could burst overnight. This is most interesting. Minister Scicluna was referring to the economy as a whole, the Prime Minister focussed mainly on the construction industry.

To be sure, there is no precedent for the situation we are now in. In the very long time during which I have been following developments in the Maltese economy, I cannot remember that somethng similar to this ever happened – not in the momentum of the mid-seventies, nor in the post-1987 period when the Fenech Adami administration unleashed the forces of consumerism, and went on to spend the funds accumulated by the Labour administrations that preceded it.

No memory exists of an economic upswing that is as strong as today’s, or even one that has lasted for so long. So it is natural that some doubts will linger about for how much longer it can be sustained.

Certainly, the situation today is much better than during those years when we kept wondering how long it would take before strong economic growth really took off.

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Best sellers

Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury”, a huge best seller in the US, is having the same impact across Europe. These past weeks, translations into French and German (among others) were published. Written at a busy pace, where everything is told (or so it seems) straight in your face, the book continues to reinforce the European conviction about Trump, that he is an irrational man who for irrational reasons has managed to secure the most powerful station in the world’s affairs.

Another book which in France has been strongly launched on the bestseller path is one by Jean-Marie Le Pen, from the “extreme” right. He is the former leader of the National Front. However as of now, this success has hardly been noticed outside France. In “Son of the Nation” Le Pen tells his lifestory. It has been said that the ideas he rakes up were most appealing to the young militants of the right wing in the fifties decade of the previous century.

All in all, the remarkable sales of these two publications show how continuously, there has been a growing interest in the workings of the “extreme” right.

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