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michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon

Our parties’ only vision is winning the next election

Muscat speaks of Malta being the best in Europe, Busuttil speaks of a corruption-free Malta. Both are laudable but do not qualify for a vision of Malta’s future

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon
13 September 2016, 7:20am
In an article in The Times last Wednesday, Martin Scicluna, a leading commentator of the local scene, has argued that there is a lack of vision among Malta’s politicians.

Malta has had nothing to look forward to since Borg Olivier’s vision of independence, Mintoff’s vision of ‘integration or independence’ as a solution for Malta’s social woes and Eddie Fenech Adami’s vision of Malta as an EU member state.

Those were politicians whose vision was undoubtedly needed for Malta to assert itself and become what it is today. Even so, the other side embraced the adversary’s ‘vision’ only after it was realised. This happened with independence, neutrality and EU membership. It is as if maturity takes over when one side attains its ‘dream’.

The problem now is: where do we go from here? Muscat speaks of Malta becoming the best in Europe and Simon Busuttil speaks of a corruption-free Malta. Both are laudable ideas but they certainly do not qualify for a vision of Malta’s future.

At this stage in Malta’s history, the vision idea presents a number of problems. First and foremost is the question whether Malta needs a vision at this stage of its development. We have settled down as an EU member state and everybody acknowledges that we did well, astounding even ourselves. So do we need yet another political messiah to lead us into some promised land that probably does not even exist? Or do we just need the sort of intelligent management that Joseph Muscat is very capable of – without the cronyism and corruption that have become synonymous with his administration?

Do politicians in other countries feel the need of a ‘vision’ for their country’s future? Consider Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and Matteo Renzi. I take the impression that they just let time flow, while consistently asserting the principles on which their country’s beliefs and constitution are based.

Perhaps, Malta is so small (and consequently suffers from an inferiority complex) that we need to assert ourselves by having a ‘vision’ towards which we should all work, while other countries do not need such fancy ideas to prop up their existence.

One of the lack-of-vision issues that are consistently undermining the Muscat adminsitration regards the environmental problems resulting from phyiscal development. Planning is a long-term endeavour while politicians rarely see beyond their term of office. This simple fact has – over and over again – undermined attempts at long term planning. People are not intersted in the problems that will arise in another 20 years – they want to have their piece of cake today because tomorrow is too far away. As the Maltese idiom asks: ‘Ghada min rah?’ – whoever saw tomorrow?

A political vision implies the exact opposite. It is long term and aims at the country’s policies consistently tuned to reach a specific aim. This is not happening, more so as we do not seem to have the faintest idea of what this specific aim should be.

With the election year looming, as time flies by, the two parties cannot see beyond the next general election. Anything that might have a temporary negative impact but a positive long-term benefit is not on the agenda. The voter’s whims say so and politicians must always bow to the voter’s whims. Messianic politics do not get votes unless their visionary message is palpable and impresses the imagination of the electorate.

This applies to both leaders of the main Maltese political parties. At the moment, they do not inspire a vision. They are only interested in getting results in the election: Muscat to celebrate another victory and Busuttil to try to win but – more importantly – to avoid the sort of debacle that the PN endured in 2013. All other considerations are moved to the back burner without anyone bothering to see whether this would have a long term negative effect or not.

This is not something that just happens in Malta. Anyone who bothers to follow the political duel going on in the US between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump realises that we in Malta do not stoop so low in our political tit-for-tat. Following the US media, it seems that whatever the president of the US does – and Obama is doing some very positive things – is of no interest while wild irresponsible accusations are the order of the day. Meanwhile, behind the scenes the two parties use incredibly crude tricks to deny the right to vote to people who would vote for the other party.

Thank God that we in Malta do things in a more polite and civil way...

On the other hand, having a national vision owned by both political parties is unheard of in Malta as much as it is in the US.

Comparisons are odious but the intra-party pique in the US is probably worse than it is even in Malta where one party has to be against whatever the other party wants. This puerile attitude of our two parties is doing untold harm to Maltese politics.

A national vision embraced by both parties is just a pipedream.

Why are our Festas less religious but more popular?

The season for village festas is mostly over.

Festas have confounded those who predicted their demise, saying that festa, band club performances and fireworks will die as the people’s interest in them peters out.

The opposite has happened. Festas have grown. Band clubs are flourishing with a consistent input of youngsters wanting to learn how to play some musical instrument. Fireworks have even moved into the digital age with computerised displays including synchronised background music.

Only the interest in the religious aspect of the festa is slowly dying out.

This phenomenon is a reflection of how traditional Maltese culture has not only survived but also adapted itself to the times.

Someone from University should study this unplanned development and seek to find the reasons why this phenomenon has evolved in the way it has.

It would be more interesting than a module on the Eurovision song contest and the Island of MTV annual concert.

Surely festas are more popular. They are the face of our vernacular culture that cannot be ignored.

 

[email protected]

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon is a former government minister who served under several Nationalist admini...
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