It might come as a surprise to many and some might actually not believe it. Yet, it is now exactly half a century since the Maltese people elected a third political party to Parliament.
It was 50 years ago, in 1962, that the people elected four representatives of the Pellegrini party, four of the Ganado party and Mabel Strickland herself to Malta’s highest institution.
From the following election, and for 10 consecutive elections, the people have entrusted the destiny of our country in the hands of the PN/PL duopoly.
Of course, important goals in the political development of our country have been reached during this half century. It would be folly to deny this. The attainment of independence, the republican Constitution and EU accession are all important political milestones that all the Maltese should rightly be proud of.
But the crystallisation of the 50-year-old two-party system has also led to the automatisation of a frame of mind that is taking a good number of members of the political establishment to the dogs.
With a fully entrenched and embedded two-party system in force, the mentality of ‘winner takes all’ is basically being taken for granted with the result that half the Maltese population and more feel (and many actually are) excluded from contributing to the common good and to the well-being of the country.
This “winner takes all” mentality has led to a climate of political arrogance, which is always on the increase. It is exactly this automatic right to arrogance that, during the 16-year Labour administration, allowed certain politicians to get away with murder with corruption issues, others to enter furtively into Maltese waters and unload their undeclared whisky as we witnessed systematic torture to take place at the police depot.
The Nationalist Party concept of arrogance is “softer” but would still be deemed unacceptable in any other part of the democratic world: Minister Tonio Fenech getting a free ride on a businessman’s plane to watch a football match abroad; Minister George Pullicino getting a free summer cruise on another businessman’s yacht and Richard Cachia Caruana maintaining his membership as the PN’s 12th district delegate despite being Malta’s topmost diplomat are all taken for granted in contemporary “two party” Malta.
And the farce (or tragedy?) goes on.
Just a few examples of the entrenched arrogance: individuals and companies have to pay money and get permits to keep billboards on the road, while the PN and the Labour Party flout the law, place their billboards wherever they like and for as long as they decide… and do not pay a penny on rent, to boot.
Example 2: Owners of illegal boathouses steal public land, flout the law at the expense of the law-abiding citizens and blackmail Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat, who both sign agreements with the boathouse owners to ensure their perpetual impunity. The Malta Environment and Planning Authority is thus emasculated by Dr Gonzi and Dr Muscat and is forced to admit that the problem of illegal boathouses is “bigger than Mepa”.
Example 3: Labour accuses Minister Dolores Cristina of political patronage, since her son-in-law is one of the four surgeons first appointed, then withdrawn, from a hospital post. Then we discover that Labour star candidate Franco Mercieca was sitting on the board and actually confirmed a candidate he alleges he had doubts about.
Example 4: The PL depicts itself as a progressive party but then, in an era where the mobility of people has become a sine qua non, it takes people to court to ensure they are struck off the electoral register. Progressive, my foot. These are actions that are typical of the Kim Il Sung era.
And what about political patronage? It is now standard practice that the winning political party appoints its failed candidates to directorships of boards, authorities and companies even if they might not have any inkling of how these work.
Dr Gonzi has made ample use of this system. In a few months, it will be the Labour acolytes, qualifed or not, knowledgeable or not, who will start replacing the Nationalists on these boards.
This story has been going on for half a century. Do you want to continue having to approach PN/PL ministers, politicians and their cronies to get what is rightly due to you?
Do you want to keep on begging some minister or his shadow counterpart for a job for your son or daughter? Or to skip the queue in hospital operations? Or to speed up a Mepa permit that is rightly yours?
Or do you want to salvage some of the dignity and self-respect which has been stolen from you by PN and PL?
You have a golden chance to do so at the upcoming election. You can kick in the mouth the winner takes all arrogant mentality through your vote by voting green for real change. The country needs this.
And the Maltese need to regain the self-respect they have been deprived of by their 50-year-old political masters.
Prof. Cassola is Alternattiva Demokratika’s spokesperson on EU and international affairs.