The Malta Independent 27 May 2024, Monday
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Toxic majoritarianism

Kevin Cassar Sunday, 21 April 2024, 08:17 Last update: about 2 months ago

A dark cloud of creeping authoritarianism hangs over Malta. Labour won three landslide election victories on the trot. It’s now heading for another at the European elections. That absolute domination of the electorate only spells trouble for Malta’s future.  It will only lead to an escalation in Robert Abela’s arrogance. Another victory will deliver an endorsement of Labour’s industrial cronyism and incompetence.

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The latest polls  show Labour steaming ahead. Labour is expected to trounce the opposition come June, with a 29,000 vote majority. That’s a massive 10% advantage. Even more unbelievable is Abela’s own trust rating.  He’s the preferred choice for almost 46% of voters.

You’d think Malta is the very pastures of heaven, an idyllic paradise. That’s certainly the impression you’d get if you just watched TVM and ONE news and never as much as looked outside your window.

The utter chaos on the roads is bewildering.  The sheer incompetence is tragic.  Sliema road, which runs up from Kappara junction towards San Ġwann, a major traffic route, has been dug up since the second week of January.  The road from Xemxija to Għajn Tuffieħa was meant to be completed last June but has been undergoing works for over three years.  The road from Ċirkewwa to Għadira is open only to one way traffic.  Even short stretches of residential streets such as Anton Buttigieg Street in Iklin have been undergoing repairs for months, with construction debris and plastic barriers scattered around and clouds of dust filling people’s homes.  How can a 50-metre stretch of road take almost a year to complete?  How can a population that has to live with this level of chaotic incompetence continue to vote so wholeheartedly for more of this turmoil?

What’s doubly tragic is that Malta’s citizens not only put up with the constant disruption in their lives and the adverse effects on their physical and mental health but also face an unprecedented debt burden which Abela has single-handedly inflicted on them. In his few short years at the helm, he’s practically doubled the national debt from €5.7 billion to 9.7 billion and intends to keep raising it. The debt to GDP ratio was just 40% in 2019.  Under Abela it’s risen to over 55%.  That’s a staggering 40% increase in just four years.

Those determined to vote Labour should keep in mind that because of Abela’s massive borrowing, we’re paying €214 million in interest alone every single year. With those billions of euro Abela’s borrowed, you’d expect some order, some organisation, some planning.  You’d think that after the tragic incidents in the construction sector, roadworks would be safely sealed off ensuring the safety of pedestrians, particularly disabled pedestrians and parents with young children.

 

Instead we see deep trenches dug up with no protection or safety, plastic barriers carried along by the wind and rain, rubble that’s washed into people’s garages and down the roads rendering driving, especially for motorcyclists, particularly hazardous. We were promised notices with completion dates for major road work projects.  Roads, like the one to the airport, that have just been completed are immediately dug up, to the frustration of road users and residents. And nobody is held to account, nobody’s responsible. We’ll just wait for the next injury or fatality before we engage in some new gimmick to appease the populace.

This is not how a normal modern nation should be.  This is a dysfunctional, chaotic mess, all of Labour’s creation. Of course, there’s a good reason for the constant digging and road closures.  There’s a reason why the authorities fail to impose basic safety standards. Labour needs to keep those mega-contractors happy.  It must keep funnelling money borrowed on our behalf into their pockets.  Those mega-contractors sustain Labour, providing it with the cash that ensures Labour’s illusion of a paradise continues to be believed.

But the economy is doing great, everybody’s richer under Labour, that’s why it keeps winning. That’s what Labour wants you to believe. The Times reported that Eurostat has just shown that Maltese wages are some of the lowest in Europe.   Despite Labour’s boasts Malta’s annual full-time adjusted salary is well below the EU average.  Didn’t Labour promise we’d be the best in Europe? In Luxembourg, Europe’s true best, the average annual full-time salary was 75,700 euro in 2022. In Malta it was less than €23,000 in 2023.

When the Opposition criticised Labour for its pathetic record, Labour responded with default contempt: “PN don’t even know how to read a statistic, this shows that they are economically incompetent and rely on newspaper headlines rather than analysing reports”.

But it wasn’t the PN that pointed out the depressing wage situation. KPMG, in another illusion-shattering report, pointed out that “real wages have essentially remained the same since 2018”. KPMG reported that last year Malta’s wages increased by only 1.5% - that’s the lowest in Europe - while inflation was 5.6%.  “The real effect on people’s purchasing power for 2023 is expected to be negative as growth in prices outpaced growth in normal income”. Maybe KPMG can’t interpret statistics either. Maybe they’re relying on newspaper headlines too. Maybe only Labour understands statistics and the rest of us are all fools.

Labour won’t stop flooding the media with all sorts of disinformation to maintain power. It might not deceive everybody but it’s enough to deceive the majority. At the same time Abela refuses to implement the Caruana Galizia inquiry recommendations.  He keeps dragging his feet with the GRECO recommendations ensuring that Labour is protected.

Abela is already ordering Malta’s new airline around. “I gave clear instructions to the new national airline to ensure that the Maltese language is used,” Abela bragged. We’re back to square one.  Political interference wrecked AirMalta.  On the first day of the new airline, April fool, Abela is meddling again. The last thing Malta needs is another landslide victory for an aspiring autocrat.

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