The Malta Independent 21 September 2021, Tuesday

Elections and Covid

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 22 July 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

General elections loom, and not just in Malta. They will have to be held in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. What impact could this have?

Recent state elections in Germany produced a result that gave very good comfort to the CDU party led by chancellor Merkel. According to the opinion polls, it should have been trashed, but the opposite happened – whence the gladness.

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Did the result demonstrate how the pandemic could be benefitting incumbents, despite the mistakes (if one could call them that) for which they have been responsible since it has been around? Maybe.

At the same time that state elections were being held in Germany, regional ones took place in France. The candidates presented by Presdent Macron’s party, including “star” ministerial hopefuls, were trashed.

But then, candidates of the traditional left and right parties made a major impact. They were still in office for the regional posts they had been elected to when Macron’s party was still in formation.

Again, should this be taken to mean then that when a pandemic is abroad, those who happen to be in office, will do best in elections, no matter which party they represent?  At times of major emergency, do people prefer to endorse appointees who are already in charge of the show, rather than seek the temptation of new directions?    

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ISLANDS

European islands have been badly hit by the pandemic. Their development – in the case of many – has been based on tourism, which for long months was kept down and out by the pandemic. Every new wave of infection that emerges delivers another blow.

Since even before tourism became an option, some islands turned to financial services to fuel their economic growth. That sector has increasingly been fiercely attacked by European critics who frequently assert, sometimes with reason, that so-called financial services simply create screens behind which very rich people and mighty corporations hide in order to evade the taxes which they should be payng.

What should European islands be doing to exit the perfidious cul-de-sac they have been drawn into, where they lose the trust of other EU member states, as well as the economic safeguards they need... while their inbound tourism collapses?

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LETTERS

A number of books came to my notice recently – they featured correspondence exchanged between authors and other personalities over a long stretch of time. The texts highlighted their experiences and aspirations, with reference to the lives they were living and to their mutual friendships with correspondents. As you read their letters, you feel like you’re reliving their experiences.

One set of such letters went back to the nineteenth century; another was dated quite close to our times with a cut-off point close to the end of the 1960’s.

What was striking though was the realization that such letters are no longer being written. Where the telephone has still not replaced them, social media have assumed a total control over what gets “said” from a distance. Up to not so long ago,  correspondence served as an outlet for creative writing... or at least of meaningful literary output.

It was sometimes considered to be too casual and ephemeral, although fat volumes still got published with what this or that guy would have written to some lady or other. Today apparently, the whole genre has become extinct.

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