The Malta Independent 21 January 2020, Tuesday

Can politics really be changed for the better?

Timothy Alden Sunday, 5 January 2020, 08:53 Last update: about 18 days ago

Over the years, we have seen many magnificent political dreams infiltrate into the public consciousness, only for all the promises made to turn out to have been empty and hollow. In such an environment as we have today it is easy for people to lose faith. So can things really change? Are there any good politicians? Or are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past?

I do believe there is a light at the end of this tunnel, despite all the difficult times the country has passed through across various phases of its history. While hatred and partisan thinking continue to trouble our country even now, many others have been woken up to the poisonous reality of our political system. Many others remain asleep due to political party controlled television. Nonetheless, the years ahead may yet prove to become years of reform.

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Chris Fearne has promised many good governance and environmental proposals the country has long needed. Adrian Delia has done the same, adopting two concepts I have long argued for; the state funding of political parties to replace donations by businessmen; and the removal of political party ownership of television. Thus, a new standard has already been set in the promises of Maltese politics, regardless of how one feels about the leaders themselves, for better or worse.

A lot will boil down to implementation, if these promises prove to be genuine rather than empty words. For example, on party financing reform and the state funding of parties, Godfrey Anthony Pirotta states that money should not be transferred to parties; "rather the expenses would be refunded upon the presentation of valid receipts; eligible campaign expenses would be clearly defined in a legislation regulating the use of public funding of parties. Campaign expenditure which is not in line with the law will not be refunded."

Thus, crucial reforms are finally on the table - but the potential for abuse and their effectiveness depend on the details. It is as usual up to third party politics to be the watchdog and seek the devil in these details. While the Nationalists and Labourites are now looking to adopt proposals which Partit Demokratiku and Alternattiva Demokratika came up with years ago, it is still the duty of third parties to remain ahead of the curve and keep on policing the old timers dependent on the broken system.

With the proposed merger of the third parties to create a fresh movement offering hope, Malta and Gozo now have a unique opportunity to turn over a new page. By adopting our proposals, the larger parties have admitted that we are right. The third parties have forged the path and led the way on positive change in Maltese politics.

Can politics really be changed for the better? Looking at the bigger picture, over the past few centuries the world has turned from feudalism and despotism towards democracy. Democracy in turn has kept evolving. Malta and Gozo's political system has also not remained static. People must not lose heart. Change is not just coming; it is here. Let us work together to make it change for the better.

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