The Malta Independent 3 December 2021, Friday

Sounds familiar?

David Stellini Friday, 23 February 2018, 13:41 Last update: about 5 years ago

The last general election result did set us thinking about Malta’s future and its place in Europe and the world. Much has been said and much of it had great value but I do want to broach the subject yet again as it does make sense to revisit as the dust settles, with a more objective view form a safe distance. Are we Maltese profit-driven or values-driven?

Maltese are like all other European counterparts no doubt about that, i.e. there are both profit and values-driven in Malta. I find that the way Maltese think politically reflects that of most European nations. So we do have values-driven politicians/voters in Malta and many of them also. But at this point in time most people want profit-driven politics. There’s no doubt about that. Otherwise how can we explain the election result?

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“In-nies il-but jaraw!” “People only care about the money”. “It’s the economy stupid!”. How many times have we heard these adages?

I personally never really felt comfortable saying them, although admittedly I did say them occasionally informally. What is that makes Maltese tick? Nothing special! We, Maltese, are no different from say Belgians or Italians, of whom, I met many. 

When we struggle to make ends meet, the first thing we think of, is money to pay the bills. When we’re just getting by, we wish we had money to go out for a nice dinner with our partner. Open / greener spaces, no corruption, and better public transport in Malta are but second thoughts. They are important but not determining factors on how we vote. This is how most of us think and how most Europeans think. Those of us who lead a comfortable live, earning 50k plus, do place higher standards in public life and environment protection at the top of our priorities but how many of us are there to sway the result of a general election?

Now, we are in a situation where the Maltese government reads the psyche of the Maltese population perfectly and passes the test with flying colours but fails miserably when it comes to passing the test of its own European political family. 

The European Socialists are perhaps the most value-driven political grouping in the European Parliament. For them, protection of journalistic freedoms, minority and democratic and rule of law principles reign supreme. So when the Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici goes there and tells them, in not so many words, that their rants against the Maltese government are unjustified given the popularity it enjoys, that is exactly what drives them up the wall. It is more proof, if any was needed, that this government is not about principles and values, but about trust ratings and profits. What Minister Bonnici is saying, in essence, is that the majority of the Maltese people approve of what the government is doing and to hell with rule-of-law principles. 

I don’t think it has to be like this. We find a balance between the two because one does not exclude the other. For it is true that everyone, and I mean everyone, has a right to take a slice of the Malta’s development and prosperity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we throw the basic, fundamental principles out of the window. 

Democracy is not and has never been just a once-in-a-five year exercise where people cast their votes. Democracy is much more than that. It is primarily the protection of the minority with safeguards against authoritarian rule. 

“Over the top!” I hear you say. Well, it all starts with highly popular democratic leaders putting constitutional changes to a referendum and people accept these changes because they want to give their leader a vote of confidence.  A new presidential system is ushered in where the President holds almost absolute powers and the people are happy as they are financially better off. Did it happen in the past? Yes, it did. Sounds familiar? Yes it is. 

 

MP David Stellini is the Opposition spokesperson on European Affairs and Brexit. He is also President of the Nationalist Party Administrative Council.

 

 

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