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Being PM for a day
Today’s xarabankesque effort has backfired. It merely contributed to the banalisation of democracy.
19 June 2012, 12:00am
"PM for a Day" was first marketed as a cool contest aimed to give us a taste of the huge responsibilities and burdens faced by the First Among Equals. It immediately transpired that the proposal was problematic and so the message was eventually adjusted from "being prime Minister" to "being with the Prime Minister for a day".
In their efforts to maximize the number of entries, organisers offered an iPad which served as a carrot to encourage participation. The contest was turned into a lottery.
In my political memory I have seen Bill Clinton strutting his stuff with a saxophone, an obese Boris Yeltsin taking aerobic classes and Alfred Sant trying to play the drums. Lawrence Gonzi has now stretched the art of political campaigning to new limits when he agreed to be filmed in the format associated with the Big Brother reality show.
Three unrepresentative journalists chose the finalist from four candidates presented by the party. It is also striking how the finalists' profiles are worlds apart from the current structure of our House of Representatives (an 18-year-old who eagerly submitted the names of over 100 family relations and friends to fill over a 100 ministerial portfolios and other powerful position; then there were three women, when in actual fact women are severly under-representated).
The winner's proposal was in itself ludicrous. A proposal to organise parental skills is laudable but forcing adults and teenagers to take parental lessons before having sex (in case of conception) is laughable. And what if they don't? Who is going to catch them?
Organisers have long known that this charade was going to fall on the day after the RCC motion. In case of a positive outcome, it may have helped the Prime Minister to secure a fast return to his 'business as usual' stance.
But it just happened that last night Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando and Jesmond Mugliett came up with a one-night stand that necessitated a bitter morning-after pill. Their vote reaffirmed that the Prime Minister cannot bank on his agitated backbench. This political crisis adds to anxieties about the state of the economy especially after last week's announcement that Malta has regressed into economic recession. All this requires sober action not contests, games and alieniation.
Today's xarabankesque effort has backfired. It merely contributed to the banalisation of democracy and this can't help us improve our perceptions of the incumbants.