The Malta Independent 17 January 2020, Friday

TMID Editorial: Corruption – Disunited in protest

Tuesday, 19 November 2019, 09:30 Last update: about 3 months ago

In spite of all the hits it’s taking because of Keith Schembri’s decision not to testify in a court case he himself had instituted and other issues such as having three ministers under investigation, the government and the Labour Party remain in a strong position because the Opposition is divided.

Last week, when Schembri withdrew the now famous libel case against PN MP Simon Busuttil, the civil society was quick to come up with the idea of escalating the now monthly vigil in remembrance of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to a protest against corruption.

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Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia proposed that the PN takes part in the manifestation in an official way, and this was approved by the party’s administrative committee. The organisers of the activity declared that although no invitations had been issued to political parties, everyone was invited to attend so long as nobody took over the demonstration.

This acceptance appeared to be a bridge between both NGOs organising the event – Repubblika and Occupy Justice – and the PN. It is a known fact that the exponents of the two NGOs are coming from the Nationalist side of the political spectrum, that faction which does not see eye-to-eye with the PN’s current leader. So the idea that the two sides would be marching together for the same cause appeared to be a good sign.

But this understanding of unity was short-lived. First it was the Partit Demokratiku which exposed the lack of unity that exists within the Opposition ranks. The PD is no longer officially part of the Opposition benches, since both Godfrey Farrugia and Marlene Farrugia – elected in 2017 as part of the PN-PD coalition – resigned from the party. But, by saying that it would also join the activity and take the opportunity to also protest against Delia, the PD was effectively creating division among the protesters.

Then came reports – which were never denied – that some PN MPs were refusing to march together with their leader at the protest. In fact, Delia ended up taking part in the demonstration accompanied solely by the party secretary general, Clyde Puli. Other PN MPs preferred to be seen with the NGOs, rather than with their leader. Maybe it is time for them to make up their mind whether they still want to be part of the PN or not.

The Labour Party must have been extremely happy with these developments. The negative effects of the protest on the government and the PL were mitigated by the division that still exists within their political adversaries. In actual fact, the PD’s position and, more importantly, the stand taken by the anti-Delia faction in the PN served to confirm (if there was any need) that there is no united front against Castille and Hamrun.

This is what is strengthening Labour. So long as the adversaries are disjointed, fighting among themselves, and not willing to come together, forget differences and form a common stand, Labour knows that there is no way that it could be ousted from power.

For the opposition to be united, people with big egos need to put them aside. If they did, crowds protesting in Valletta against corruption would be bigger too.

Many have heard about the concept of “divide and rule”, the way dissent is encouraged so as to prevent unity in opposition. Well, Labour does not even have to work on this, because their political adversaries are doing all the work by themselves.

 

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