The Malta Independent 18 August 2019, Sunday

TMIS Editorial - Mayday: no demarcation line whatsoever between party and government

Sunday, 5 May 2019, 11:45 Last update: about 5 months ago

Between the threshold of Castille and that of a political party meeting, there needs to be a strict demarcation line.  Just to make things perfectly clear to anyone who harboured any doubt: a political party is not a government and a government is not a political party.

A political party can be in government but a government cannot be a political party.

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Excuse us for being somewhat pedantic here, but it seems there are a great many people, including those in the seat of power, who simply do not appreciate the difference.

There needs to be not just a line drawn in the sand, but a hard and fast barrier that political decency and ethics demand not be trespassed.  But trespassed it is in almost every way imaginable, and perhaps in many ways unimaginable too.

Some administrations have respected that line as they should, others have ignored it and trampled upon so that it has been blurred to such an extent that a team of highly skilled archaeologists would be hard pressed to find any left.

And that is exactly what happened earlier this week when the Prime Minister chose to walk out of the Prime Minister’s office door and straight into a Labour Party mass meeting that was awaiting him, as the Labour Party leader, on his Prime Ministerial doorstep.

And let’s face it, May Day is a massive political party in the other sense of the word.  For the uninformed, May Day is a traditional Socialist celebration that is traditionally marked in Malta by a mass meeting hosted by the Labour Party.  It is by no stretch of the imagination a government celebration.

But Muscat has clearly chosen to ignore or disrespect what is not only a time-honoured tradition of separating the office he holds but what is also an ethical prerequisite of those who we elect to lead us.  Well, at least it was once so.

That is because there were only a few who batted an eyelid over the Prime Minister’s choice.

The problem is that people are led by example.  And if the Prime Minister throws political correctness, if that is the correct phrase under the circumstances, to the wind why would other people bother to do the right thing when their own time comes to make an ethical judgement call.

And it is also somewhat curious how the Prime Minister has chosen Castille Square for his May Day mass meetings before the last two elections.

Let us not forget how the Prime Minister actually announced the date of the last general election, in 2017, on May Day. The Prime Minister gathered the faithful outside his Castille office, not his office in Hamrun from where he supposedly runs the party, and announced a general election.  Soon after that he proceeded to Mile End, where he launched Labour’s electoral campaign.

In 2018, the May Day rally was held around the newly-revamped Triton’s Fountain in Valletta, a more palpable choice of venue.  That time he announced a €50 million social housing project, which has been brought into serious question by industry experts.  He had also used the occasion as a call to arms to reply to all those nasty people writing nasty things about his friends and their Panamanian companies and New Zealand trust set-ups.

Cue May Day 2019, and the Prime Minister returns to that blurred demarcation line between his role as Prime Minister of Malta and the leader of the Labour Party, once again on the eve of a fundamental election that will see the entire country go to the polls all at once for the first time for the local council elections, and of course the European parliamentary elections, which will prove just as crucial considering all the action the European Parliament has taken against Malta over recent years.

One just wonders what may lie in store next May Day.  And the fact that the demarcation lines between government and party have all but disappeared on so many levels is not only a question for May Day, it is an actual mayday distress call.

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