The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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ADPD leader wants to change party name after EU elections

Sabrina Zammit Sunday, 24 March 2024, 09:00 Last update: about 21 days ago

ADPD leader Sandra Gauci wants to change the name of the party, and she will be seeking to do so after the European Parliament election in June.

Without wanting to go into further detail, Gauci said that this will be a top priority following the European and Local council elections.

Since being elected party leader, almost a year ago, Gauci said that the party – known in full as the ADPD-The Green Party – has become closer to the citizen "and people know who we are", but that there is still a lot of work to be done.

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In an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday, Gauci said that since the general election, when the party obtained 1.6 % of the popular vote, it seems that the party’s popularity has increased according to the latest surveys. Gauci also said that the fact that the party has rekindled its youth section, while also having candidates contesting the local council election, has helped.

"When I took over the party, we had no representatives in local councils. The youth section had also been dismantled because of Covid and because interest had been lost, so I had to start working to give a certain energy and motivation to the party," she said.

Gauci said that holding one press conference a week is not enough for the party’s message to get through, but she said this guarantees "a few seconds on the national TV station".

She said that the party has also increased its number of house visits and its contact with the people. However, the ADPD leader said that she believes the party can be more daring as right now "we are being too prudent". 

In general, Gauci said that people are angry but scared at the same time. Asked to elaborate, she said that they are scared of "some vendetta... from politicians".

"(People) tell me they don’t speak because they have children. I tell them that I also do. They tell me they don’t speak because they work with the government, I tell them so do I, yet I'm still here," she said.

Asked why she decided to contest the upcoming European elections, Gauci said that she wants to take on necessary challenges for Malta in the EU. She believes that she is direct in her statements and does not beat around the bush, and this helps her cause.

She said that she is capable of analysing different situations and take decisions promptly. Moreover, she also said that her mentality is more conformant with the rest of Europe, meaning that she has a more open mentality, and does not believe in being part of Europe just for the money.

She believes that Europe should equip itself with more military resources for defence purposes.

"We need to be ready for future challenges and I believe that in having some form of defence is a need, even though the European Union was initiated as an act of peace. To defend does not mean that you are going to attack, we are not going to start any war," she said. 

She also believes that the party has a chance at winning a seat at the European Parliament, despite admitting it is no easy task. With reference to a recent survey, which showed a lack of trust in her as an MEP candidate, she said that this result discouraged her "but there are many people who do not know me, so I am going to work on that".

Gauci said that some of the ADPD proposals include pushing for the green deal to continue with more attention given to negotiations when it comes to Malta. She said that Malta should have done a better job early on, when negotiations on the importation of food from countries outside the EU were being conducted. She said that at EU level there should be more incentives for farmers, not only for them to be able to afford the land they need, but also to stabilise the prices of their products.

"Saying that we should stop importation is not feasible because we would literally be making fun of people in their faces," she said. Gauci is of the opinion that Malta should not import more than it needs because sometimes when a particular produce is in season, the same product is imported "to knock off its price".

Gauci said that Malta should have spoken up about these consequences way before they happened (and farmers took to the streets in protest), in order to avoid management by crisis. Gauci also referred to this also happening on the ETS Shipping Tax, which is an EU tax on shipping vessels. Ships berthing in European states must pay an additional tax to make up for environmental hazards, making them less competitive than other non-European ports.

If this is to be extended to airports, it needs to be discussed as from now, as Malta cannot do without an airport, she said.

Gauci attributed the drop in political involvement by young people to disenchantment and "politicians who don’t inspire". 

Unfortunately, the two parties (the PL and PN) are always heard and I believe that as a third party we must work to rebuild trust in politics. “Faith is not something that falls down from the sky but it is something that needs to be worked for," she said.

She said that the disenchantment is a result of the many scandals involving politicians and the fact that they "feel overwhelmed by these things and feel like they cannot win this battle, so they live their life in a bulb to protect themselves".

Asked what can be done to remedy this, Gauci said that young people should be given hope with "serious proposals, by showing you want to work (with them) and that you are not like the rest".

On political accountability, Gauci said that being a politician is not just a decorative title and a paycheque, but that such a role comes with responsibilities. She said that this has already happened after the recent findings by the public inquiry of Jean Paul Sofia, the 20-year-old who died under the rubble when a building under construction collapsed in Kordin in December 2022.

Referring to three ministers – Economy minister Silvio Schembri, Planning minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi and Energy minister Miriam Dalli – who the PN said should resign because of their political responsibility, Gauci said that "they should have quit". Additionally, she said that people who resigned or were dismissed after the publication of the inquiry report "should not be recycled anywhere else".

"Something which has been forgotten by today's politicians is that they are role models. They completely forgot about it and this is reflecting on society... 'I do what I want because I know him and her', and it’s getting out of hand," she said.

Commenting on the Prime Minister Robert Abela's statement that former PL MP Rosianne Cutajar needs to make an apology before being let back into the Labour Party, Gauci said "she has such a shameful CV... what do you mean say sorry? We are not in kindergarten".

She said that Cutajar’s contract with ITS was labelled as fraudulent by the National Audit Office, but she was not even interrogated by police.

"How do we expect people to have faith in politicians, when those who stand out the most (in a bad way) are being allowed to do whatever they want?" she said.

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