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Putting things into perspective

There is a feeling that most voters have entrenched themselves, built walls around them, accepted the status quo and simply engaged in a war of attrition that makes no sense.

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
1 June 2017, 10:15am
In a small country where the tensions ride high, the impression is that everyone has something to lose.
In a small country where the tensions ride high, the impression is that everyone has something to lose.
If there is one thing I do not quite understand in this crossfire war is the gullibility on both sides. The tensions are so high I struggle to understand what is really happening. That in itself should be worrying some people. 

I cannot share the same enthusiasm and blinded passion as many upon the call of the two political parties’ battle cries.

On one side we have the Labour Party, which professes to have all the economic solutions and to have brought unimaginable prosperity. And on the other side, the Nationalist party, which has offered to save this country from corruption.

Now let us put things into perspective. 

The Labour Party under Joseph Muscat has accelerated and opened new frontiers for business. It has given the construction industry a green card and invited it to have a bite at Malta’s townscape and countryside. Everyone has indulged and the big estate agencies – even those that have taken an ‘uptight’ stance against Labour – have had a gorgeous killing spree.

They have done away with red tape and speed-tracked projects. And yes, they have created more of an equal playing field.

From a left-wing party it has turned into a neo-liberal pro-business party.

Labour has also been blessed by low oil prices, high tourism figures and an open-arms policy to investors.

The PN was also blessed with a string of cock-ups, namely the Panama papers that revealed the companies of Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

Now, the companies were opened in a tax haven and – though there were no transactions – the secrecy and coincidence led to recriminations and accusations that the two, a minister and a chief of staff were up to something sinister: kickbacks.

All this would have gone away had the Prime Minister accepted their resignation or pushed them to resign. Mizzi resigned from his deputy leadership bid but was still assigned a ministry without portfolio.

The Panama papers stuck like a sore thumb throughout the last twelve months of the government’s administration. 

All through this time, the questions about another Panamanian company – Egrant – kept coming. The issue being, who was behind this company.

Brian Tonna from the audit firm Nexia BT declared it was a shell company and that it was his. The opposition basically called him a liar.  But in April, a whistleblower claimed that the beneficiary was Michelle Muscat, wife of the prime minister.  A claim created by blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, loved by the PN diehards but derided by so many others.

What happened next is history or is lost in translation.

Magistrate Aaron Bugeja has heard most of the testimonies and searched the offices of Nexia BT and Pilatus. He has even engaged a foreign firm to look into databases and there are conflicting rumours as to whether the report is ready or not.

What is sure is that the Prime Minister has put his head on a block and insisted that it is untrue and a fabrication and he has invited Simon Busuttil to take paternity of his claims and resign if the allegation is found to be false.

Nonetheless this has left the Nationalist Party ample opportunity to claim that Castille is home to a criminal gang and that this is the most corrupt government Malta has ever had.

The whole episode in itself has unleashed a resurgence of old wounds as well as new ones. Old flames have been rekindled that have exposed the old hatred between the followers of the two parties. 

Social media has been inundated with insults, abuse, vulgarities, lies, accusations and hateful messages.

The divide has widened and the arguments no longer make sense.

There is a feeling that most voters have entrenched themselves, built walls around them, accepted the status quo and simply engaged in a war of attrition that makes no sense.

The proposals have not only been sidelined but have been entirely lost in translation.

In a small country where the tensions ride high, the impression is that everyone has something to lose.

What we have surely lost is the serenity and tranquility and this is evident among friends, family and communities – even places of work.

The blame cannot be apportioned to one side. It is the fault of the political class, which cannot imagine how redundant this kind of situation is.  But memories do not evaporate.  Many people are still unwilling to forgive the Nationalists or trust them and the same argument stands for the PN or Labourites.

Elections in Malta are serious matters. But they should not be. That they are, is because most people depend so much on the benevolence of politicians.

It is a sad moment. And I cannot tell you how happy I am that it will be over so soon.

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...
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