The Malta Independent 11 August 2022, Thursday

TMID Editorial: There is no cure to Malta’s tribalism

Saturday, 20 November 2021, 09:52 Last update: about 10 months ago

How many times have we heard people with a certain level of standing and power speak about how Malta needs to get past its affinity and love for tribalism, and how not everything is a matter of partisan interest?

If ever there was an exercise in futility; that would be it.

Just this week, we saw a great example showing that not only is Malta’s cancerous tribalism alive and well, but that there is probably no cure for it.


We’re talking about a post shared to social media by Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba, where he wished his political adversary Roberta Metsola the best of luck in her bid to become the European Parliament’s next President and offered his support to her bid.

Let’s set aside the fact that the first step for Metsola is to be nominated for the post by the European People’s Party as their own candidate, and that really and truly Agius Saliba wouldn’t come into that, given that he is part of a different political group (the S&D).

One would have hoped that such a declaration from Agius Saliba – a mature one at that, which actually does show an element of maturity and disregard for the traditional elements of party pettiness that characterises most ‘debates’ between the PL and the PN – would have inspired similarly mature responses.

Anyone harbouring such hopes will, sadly, be disappointed.

The comments section was instead filled with vitriol, hateful speech, pretty much saying that Agius Saliba was wrong in offering his support to Metsola, with – naturally – a few choice words reserved for Metsola herself, given her apparent disposition to “work against Malta on so many occasions.”

It’s a pity that the brainwashed are not as angry about things such as climate change, the environment, work conditions, and other far more important things. No, no: it’s one MEP wishing luck to another MEP who happens to be from the opposing political camp which is the source of most anger.

The source of this tribalism can be debated to no end.

No doubt, the same politicians who waffle on in their well-polished speeches about how we must transcend beyond party politics before then being the first to line-up in the queue of petty political jibes just to get some likes on social media are part of the problem.

Likewise is political party media, the sole job of which is to build up a political narrative surrounding individuals or entities, leading to a barrage of hate and insults to be directed their way. We saw this with Daphne Caruana Galizia, and we see it today with other individuals (generally, individuals who are women).

It’s almost as if the lesson that dehumanising someone and making them the butt and target of the hate and insults of a mobilised movement of people brainwashed by whatever their political party tells them isn’t quite right.

Really and truly, if that lesson hasn’t been learnt now, given all that this country has been through in recent years and what it continues to go through then there is little to no hope that the lesson can ever be learnt at all.

There is no cure to Malta’s obsession with tribalism. And it’s the country and society as a whole which will continue to suffer as a result of that.


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