The Malta Independent 18 August 2019, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Summer politics - Politicians and feasts

Friday, 9 August 2019, 09:40 Last update: about 9 days ago

It is said that politicians are ready to do anything for an extra vote. Many of them practise the hobby of door-to-door visits, with some maintaining contact with their constituents during the whole course of a legislature while others take a long break between one election and another, turning up on doorsteps when there is a sniff of an election.

There is one other thing that most, if not all, politicians do – and this is attending village feasts in localities which fall within their electoral district. Some of them in fact become angry if one locality is shifted from one district to another just before the election, as this would mean that these politicians would have wasted a great deal of time in the previous five years. Others have to juggle their time if more than one feast within their district falls on the same weekend.

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A quick scroll on politicians’ Facebook profile will yield a series of photos taken at village feasts, be it during band marches or processions, or simply with the locality church or club in the background, just to prove that they were present during festa week.

Many voters seem to enjoy the moment too, and are willing to join in with their smiling face to be seen next to the MP or candidate, perhaps in the hope that, if elected, that politician would give them something in return.

What politicians do at the start of each festa season is compile a list of dates to make sure that none of the festivities falling within their district is missed. Their holidays abroad are programmed in such a way so as to never coincide with those particular weekends when village feasts within their district are held.

It is silly, to put it mildly, that politicians act in this way. But then we all know that politicians can be very silly in the way they behave, especially when it comes to that number one preference.

It is silly mostly because politicians believe that their presence at the village feast could guarantee them that extra vote or two. God forbid that they’re not present on the day of the most popular band march takes place or the procession with the titular statue is held. It’s as if their political career hangs on that particular weekend when many people are too tipsy.

The thing is: politicians must not have too high an opinion of themselves if they really think that their presence in the village or town square would mean extra votes. And politicians’ opinion of their constituents must be even lower if they believe voters will favour candidates just because they turn up for the feast.

What many voters do not know is that most politicians loathe village feasts, and attend the activities because of the next election. Just ask politicians who have retired to see what they think – most of them would candidly admit that village feasts were a duty they performed reluctantly, simply to be seen by the community, shake a few hands, take a few photos to post on the social media and mingle with the revellers while wishing they were on a boat, abroad with their family and close friends or relaxing in an air-conditioned room.

So the next time you see a politician at the village feast, remember that he or she is not willingly there, but is simply trying to influence your judgment.

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