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frank_psaila
Frank Psaila

Another one bites the dust

Quite often, EU legislators are keener on regulating peoples’ lives than bettering them

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila
21 December 2016, 8:25am
Merkel’s decision to seek a fourth term might soon see another leading European politician bite the dust
Merkel’s decision to seek a fourth term might soon see another leading European politician bite the dust
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is gone. No big loss. Rumours have it that he’ll attempt a comeback. Politicians often do. Sometimes they fail, miserably as happened to former French Resident Nicholas Sarkozy

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel’s decision to seek a fourth term in office might soon see another leading European politician bite the dust. She’s pushing her luck and in doing so, putting the future of her country – and that of the entire European continent, at great risk. With her popularity ratings plummeting, her Christian Democrat Party should have had the foresight of starting a smooth transition from Merkel to another respectable politician with whom the German electorate can comfortably identify. They did not and now Europe waits anxiously for the German elections to be held towards the end of 2017. Germany is the powerhouse of Europe, which makes the German election a crucial one for its survival. 

Francois Hollande

French President Francois Hollande thought otherwise – although he did not have much of a choice either. He’s the most unpopular President in the history of the French Republic. The spate of terrorist attacks on French soil, coupled with high unemployment, weakened his position. Far right candidate Marine Le Pen is in the running and a favourite – although opinion surveys place former French prime minister Francois Fillon in the box seat for the French presidency. 

Matteo Renzi

Matteo Renzi’s resignation plunged Italy into a political crisis. He left President Sergio Mattarella to sort out the mess. At the time of writing, former journalist and Renzi loyalist Paolo Gentiloni has been tasked with forming a new government. Renzi took Italian politics by storm. He promised a new way of doing politics. Chief amongst his promises was a stronger economy.

He failed – I believe miserably. Add to that, the arrival of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa to the Italian coast complicated his life further. He called a referendum and tied his political future to its outcome. Unemployment, bureaucracy and illegal migration make a potent mixture. Add Renzi’s lacklustre performance and that cocktail becomes even stronger. As often happens, people saw in the referendum an appropriate tool to voice their concerns on daily issues, thus giving Renzi their back.

Civil rights

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is right in trumpeting his government’s achievements on civil rights. Malta saw a raft of much needed, unacceptably delayed legal changes since the Labour Party came to power in 2013. Civil Rights Minister Helena Dalli spearheaded these changes. 

The economy 

The economy is doing well – especially in the financial and gaming industries. Both this administration and the previous one nurtured both industries and the result is the creation of thousands of more and better paid jobs. This has had a positive effect on the property industry, which is now booming. However, it is widely acknowledged that the trickledown effect from the economic growth is not being felt by all. 

Education and health

In the education sector there was a smooth transition from the previous administration. New and correct initiatives have been taken. Despite current shortcomings in the health sector, here too the new administration did not rock the boat and initiatives taken have had a general positive effect on the sector. 

Traffic

However, the new administration failed miserably in traffic management. If newspaper surveys are to be trusted, this features at the very top of the electorate’s list of concerns, across the political divide. Lack of long term planning along the years and the number of cars on our roads is to blame for today’s situation. However, Labour was elected on the back of a promise of having a road map for curtailing traffic congestions on our roads. We’re nearing the end of the legislature and the problem got worse. 

Labour’s Achilles heel

Labour failed miserably in following up on its pre-electoral talk of transparency and accountability. This government has been mired in serious allegations of corruption since its election and the Prime Minister failed to take action on all occasions. Good governance remains his government’s Achilles heel. 

Malta’s EU Presidency

People have had enough of empty promises from the likes of Jean Claude Juncker and Martin Schultz of the EU Commission and EU Parliament respectively. Illegal immigration remains a sore point, and despite countless summits and conferences at EU level there seems to be no end to people crossing illegally into Europe, putting their lives at great risk. Corruption across the EU member states is rife but no action is taken by ‘Brussels’.

Quite often, EU legislators are keener on regulating peoples’ lives than bettering them. Tax harmonisation is a case in point. Many are not sure what the EU represents. In less than two weeks, Malta assumes the EU Council Presidency at a time when the gap between EU institutions and its citizens is alarmingly wide. The stakes are high. 

Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV. He was formerly...
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