The Malta Independent 18 February 2020, Tuesday

TMIS Editorial: In the national interest, get your house in order

Sunday, 13 January 2019, 11:00 Last update: about 2 years ago

Things are getting surreal at over at Dar Centrali.  In the face of a government running ramshackle over the country in so many respects, the Opposition is otherwise busy quelling internal rebellions and dissent.

The opposition has warring factions making battle plans against each other, secret social media groups plotting, planning and facilitating the demise of their rival factions and people collecting signatures, not against the government, but with the aim of ousting their own leader.


Dar Centrali really needs to get its house in order not just for the party’s sake but in the national interest.  The Opposition, after all, has a constitutional role to fulfil. 

Having a strong opposition is one of main underpinnings of having a strong democracy. Not only is a strong opposition able to challenge the government and keep it in check, but it is also collaborates with the government and provides essential input on the drafting of new laws and policies.

This holds true even if the country were to have the greatest, fairest, most honest government in the country’s history, which it certainly does not have.  Matters take on a whole new menacing tone against the backdrop of the corruption, graft and sleaze from government members and functionaries that we have seen over recent years.

And as such, the opposition’s role is essential even more so in the current day and age the country is living in, in which the authorities fail to prosecute or even investigate the documented multiple misdeeds perpetrated by members of the government, in which the government has castrated the institutions that are meant to protect citizens rights and uphold the laws of the land, and in which the authorities ignore basic democratic principles left right and centre.

The diversion of the national interest from 17 Black and all that other nasty business to the opposition leader’s personal matters, serious as the accusations are, must have been seen as manna from heaven by the people in government, who have undoubtedly just sitting back and enjoying the show as the opposition seeks to unravel itself yet again.

And somehow, the current situation has only made matters worse.  With an opposition leader refusing to step aside over ‘allegations’, it will prove exceedingly difficult for any opposition politician to make ‘allegations’ stick against government politicians, however embroiled they may be in misbehaviour, abuse of power or corruption.

They can now simply point their fingers back at the opposition leader and ask ‘Why didn’t he resign when accused?’  The result? The opposition ends up hamstrung.

As such, if the opposition leader is innocent of the charges, he had better prove so post haste, again, not only in his own personal interest, but in the national interest.

And in the meantime, while the opposition falls further and further into a state of disarray that it will find exceedingly difficult to extricate itself from, members of government have undoubtedly been breaking out the popcorn and regaling in the sight of the opposition tearing itself asunder, again after two consecutive disastrous elections.

As matters stand, the Opposition may put up a veneer of looking out for the national interest, it may even try to do that to the best of its abilities but this will be exceedingly difficult with the party as bitterly splintered as it is.

And once Parliament gets back to business after the Christmas recess tomorrow, it will be interesting to see just how much control the Opposition leader has over his own parliamentary group.  Will they all toe the party line, or will there be protest votes?

Whatever the case, the recent turmoil the party and its leader have been trudging through is really unbecoming of a nation’s opposition party.  The Opposition has given the governing party one great Christmas present indeed with the national attention – on both sides of the political equation - almost exclusively focussed on the Opposition leader’s personal trials and tribulations.

In the meantime, the party has once again laid down the gauntlet and invited dissenters to come forward, much as it had done the last time there was an all-out revolt against the leadership.

The writing is very clearly on the wall that the party has suffered yet another fracture that may threaten to turn into a fully fledged break.

The question is whether the Nationalist Party will be able to regroup itself after what would have been yet another mortal blow to the leader’s position, but which he does not recognise as such. And at the rate at which things are going, the party is looking at a good 20 years on the opposition benches unless it gets it house in order once and for all, one way or another.

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