The Malta Independent 20 April 2024, Saturday
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As PL, PN struggle, small parties need to take a chance – ADPD deputy chairperson

Sabrina Zammit Sunday, 5 March 2023, 09:30 Last update: about 2 years ago

The vice-chairperson of the ADPD-The Green Party acknowledges that in spite of people being increasingly dissatisfied with the two bigger parties, small parties still face an uphill battle in a political scenario dominated by the PL and the PN.

In an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday, Sandra Gauci argued that one way to overcome this is for small parties to see this as an opportunity to prove their worth and gain credibility.

We are living in a moment in history different from previous ones, she said, as "even numbers are showing that people are dissociating themselves from their usual parties". This is a chance that small parties need to take.

Referring to the party's limited resources, Gauci said that they still manage to cover a lot of work. "If you are tired of this system, it's not enough to talk; we need to act."

Gauci added that she dreams of her party one day becoming bigger. She said that a party grows by keeping in contact and meeting with people, "especially us (the ADPD), who don't have a coloured armour in front of its name".

When asked about the gender corrective mechanism which meant more women elected to Parliament, she said that "it is quite discriminatory" because it only applies when two parties elect MPs.

In last year’s election, 10 women were elected to Parliament, either during the initial election process or via casual elections. Another 12 women, six from the PL and six from the PN, were given a seat to increase the percentage of female representation in the House.

Gauci added that in order to help women thrive in politics, there should be an adequate system. When asked to elaborate, she said introducing childcare in Parliament is a step in the right direction. There should also be a discussion on how to have full-time MPs, which would also decrease cases of conflict of interest.

Asked about the party's future, Gauci said that ADPD will have a general meeting in April to discuss needed changes. After last year’s election, chairperson Carmel Cacopardo had announced that he would be calling time on his tenure.

"I am not going to try and hide; I wish to become the party's next leader because I believe in my potential," she said. She said that she believes that she can help the party grow and persuade those who left, because of the way the party was structured, to rejoin.  

The party is now structured better thanks to the work of Cacopardo, she said. However, she said the party would benefit from a younger leader and embrace "new faces with different ideas".

Gauci is one of three ADPD candidates who will contest the European Parliament election.

"Our message as a party is to make ourselves heard," she said, adding that "this is to show that there is no place anymore for tribalism in 2023" and "fighting as if we are talking about football."

Gauci said that it is time for a Green MEP to be elected from Malta and that it would be a dream for her to become the first one. She added that in doing so, the nation would start forming a new kind of home for the ADPD and "not look at us as losers".

"There is a hunger for the third party, but people seem taken aback and discouraged out of fear or tribalism."

Still, it was pointed out to Gauci that people have preferred to refrain from voting rather than give a preference to a small party. In last year's election, Malta registered the lowest voter turnout since Malta obtained its independence.

Gauci said that the numbers are showing that this will get worse, which could also negatively reflect on the ADPD. She said the more scandals emerge, the more people will generalize politicians and put them in the same negative category. She said that as a party, at this point they need to show a different brand, showcasing "that we are not the same. Give us a chance so we can break this tribalism" she added, saying that in this case, even the usual established parties will notice that the nation wants something different.

"There is no need for the whole party to be elected," she said "because sometimes I hear people say 'because you are not a party eligible for the government'." She explained that if two members were to be elected, the gender quota mechanism would fail and that "we would manage to save 12 wages".

Gauci said that ADPD had achieved double the number votes in the last election compared to the one in 2017 (when AD and PD were separate parties). She said this shows a trend and that people's faith in third parties is increasing.

Gauci said that the party should aim to increase its exposure as well.  She said that since joining ADPD, PBS has never invited her for an interview. She said that if the party were given a chance, it would make a good impression, as has already happened during the university discussions to which they had been invited. Gauci said they wouldn't have a strong presence if it weren't for social media and her platform, which she also lets the party use.

Following the rescinding by a court of the government's deal to privatise three hospitals, Gauci called for a general election in her blog.  Asked about this, Gauci said that it was not acceptable for ex-prime minister Joseph Muscat to blame an entire Cabinet. She also said that following the court ruling, the police should investigate every contract involving former chief of staff Keith Schembri, former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat.

In the same blog post, Gauci called out former PL MP Evarist Bartolo and said he should make his voice known about the hospitals deal. She said that he, unlike PL members, had nothing to lose; however, she is still urging other Labour ministers to speak. "I mentioned Evarist Bartolo because, from what I see, his conscience has been touched. We also had the chance to participate in some programmes together. He did not give me the idea that he was that bad; I believe he has some principles somewhere."

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