The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

Making Malta Green

Rachel Borg Saturday, 18 September 2021, 07:17 Last update: about 27 days ago

It is estimated that there are 17 % undecided voters and they alone can sway the election towards one party or another. 

When you look at the physical landscape in Malta and Gozo at this period in time, you would expect to see a surge in the support for a Green alternative party presenting an agenda that is quite radical when compared to the two main parties.

But the reality is not reflected in the political landscape.  Surveys often leave the percentage of votes for the ADPD at a very insignificant figure.  And yet, many of the problems that our country is facing stem from the complete disregard for the environment and diverge from important issues like climate change and respect for people’s values, freedom and opinions.

In Malta we tend to look at things in black and white.  There is not much tolerance for anything in between and green is mostly a second-rate colour.  It is probably way down on the list of what is important to the general public. 

Especially at this time, when getting a permit to build another 2 floors on your property or keeping your son busy with building pigeon boxes of apartments, or in the business of selling them, little energy is spent on saving green or blue.

Trying to generate a living and cultivate food from the little soil and hot, dry weather of our islands, has made the people very conscious of having to work and earn your living.  There is little or no room for the environment and its needs, when personal needs remain a focus in the minds of many.

They prefer to look for their green abroad, with a holiday in Tuscany or the Austrian Alps.  Parks that are enjoyed when in London are nothing to copy in Malta.  In other developments, Malta will immediately copy a new trend, whether or not it is suited to our lifestyle and reality.  The high-rise buildings is one such trend that is copied but should have been controlled in terms of locations and volume. 

The work mentality in other European countries has also shifted towards more freedom and alternative living whilst our population has not even grasped the reason for retirement and will continue to work until their doctor says they need a pace-maker or a lot of exercise.

Children are also raised in a materialistic mind and shopping at the supermarket is something they tolerate well.  What they eat, how to eat and where their food comes from, whether from a micro-wave or home-cooked, is a very strange territory for them.  Of course, kids never jumped for joy at seeing spinach or carrots but largely it is because they don’t know it and mistrust it. 

There are many cases that can be made by the green party in Malta.  They could storm the political scene if they had the conviction and the determination to save the country.  Token measures by the main parties are simply failing to convince many of those 17% that life counts, that freedom and good health are necessary for a meaningful family life and choice in the way we live.

Why should it be only build, build, build?  How backward are we that we cannot see beyond the industrious and materialistic side of life?  Must we stake the future of our country, in spite of the revulsion we feel towards corruption and injustice, on protecting an outdated economic model and political system?

Should we protect hobbies, like hunting, that are as much a shame to our country as the grey-listing?  Only today, we read about a highly-protected Egyptian vulture that had been bred in a conservation programme, that was shot down over Dingli.  Passion rules and takes over any conscience and civil education is sorely lacking. 

Yet around the world, movements and groups like Extinction Rebellion and activists like Greta Thunberg are sounding the alarm as loud as they can and demanding change.  The change will have to come because soon there will be no alternative and we cannot sustain the kind of life we are used to if we are to survive the extreme weather that has already become common around us.

Ex-AD candidate Arnold Cassola has worked consistently to bring attention to the corrupt practices, excessive road works and building and is urging voters to do something different and elect him as an independent candidate this time round. 

The ADPD have prepared a list of 10 candidates for now and say there will be more in the coming weeks.  Some of the candidates are known to social media and from past elections. Others may be relatively unknown, especially outside the two party system. 

The voting system of proportional representation has always held back the minor candidates or parties from gaining the necessary votes to win a seat.  In the 2017 election, 2 independent candidates were elected from the PD in the Forza Nazzjonali Coalition. 

From those 17%, who are undecided, one can conclude that a third party or candidate could convince them to vote for it.  As mentioned, they hold sway over the final result.  It is them, first and foremost that the Green party and independent candidates should focus on.  One can ask why they are undecided in a country that is so partisan and that has entrenched itself in the economy and little beyond it.  Or do they like to leave their options open to see which party they can gain most from? 

Is it this gain factor that leaves the green parties out in the cold in Malta?  What greens propose is oftentimes for the good of the country and in the interest of protecting nature and the environment.  It is also about a more sustainable business. People have not yet understood that without nature and without a healthy living and social environment, much of what is perceived as gain is really a detriment because it is not based on the common good.

Pension levels also make people afraid that they cannot sustain a good life-style if they had to stop working and they need to supplement their pension with property investment and other income.  This is equivalent to leaving people to stay less educated so that they cannot form opinions easily and are easily controlled by the party.  It is a fear factor that has taken root in our sub-conscious.  In the past, parents had to provide for their children too, by saving and either bringing them into the family business or trade or ensuring they had a good job. 

Nowadays, children are largely independent and choose a career or job that will provide for them and their families.

And yet, the opportunity in education has not done much to change the mentality of how we live and why we live.    People continue to look in the same place, even though they may actually be seeking something very different.

Only when we learn to let go of our fear and to call a wrong what it is whilst looking for the common good, could we begin to understand the importance of multi-party voting.

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