On promises and candidates

This election has brought to the fore the importance of so many new considerations which, prior to this election, were peripheral or on the back burner

9 May 2017, 11:36am
Cartoon by Mikiel Galea
Cartoon by Mikiel Galea
Beyond the accusations and wide-ranging mud-slinging the political parties have also engaged in making concrete proposals which they promise to implement once in office. And there have been extensive promises of tax cuts, refunds and free services. Apart from the tense political climate there is also a feeling of Christmas.

Most proposals are positioned to entice voters to vote for the respective political party.  

But in doing so, the political parties are dishing out promises which have a cost that has an intrinsic bearing on the taxpayer and on employers.  

Everyone has the right to question the validity of these promises. There should also be a distinction between those promises which are linked to encouraging more economic growth and investment and those which are simply meant to attract votes.

The parties need to add the arithmetic and see if things really make sense. 

The news media in Malta are ill-equipped to counter the calculations being presented to them. So the least we can do is to ask pertinent questions on how the workings by the parties were made and the sources of the finance.

There is also a very clear feeling that both parties are using the tax reduction trump card to encourage more voters to their side. The Labour party has moved to a very centrist platform, taking tax cuts as a cornerstone of its policy.

The PN has followed suit and understood that including tax cuts is taken as part of the style in attracting voters.

We must suggest caution. This country is passing through a good economic period, but not one that is without pitfalls. We still have pockets of much needed investment:  in education, the infrastructure, transport and health, for instance. The investment needed in these sectors is so significant that long term planning is needed, not irresponsible electoral promises.

This applies to the two political forces.  

There is little doubt that elections spur healthy discussion and a profound redrawing of policies and priorities. This is the beauty of democracy. Democracy is alive and kicking when ideas and concepts are presented to the electorate. Surely this election has brought to the fore the importance of so many new considerations which, prior to this election, were peripheral or on the back burner.

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The choice of candidates is not a reflection of the party one chooses to vote for. At least that is what we have to believe. For the parties have the knack of choosing candidates not based on their intellectual capabilities but rather their ability to attract their voting base. There is a problem in this. In the sense that the parties most of the time are attracting candidates who have a good local network and not necessarily an ideal political profile.

This is an endemic problem with our political system, which is geared to encouraging the political parties to select candidates on the wrong merits.  

While it is understandable that parties want the best vote, it is clearly a problem when a party becomes too populist and is not careful in its choices.

There will be those who argue that ideology is over and that the parties are simply offering a blue print for managing the country. It is perhaps true.  

Because beyond the tribal links of candidates and their dislike for their adversary they must also share some common ideas. Not everyone is suitable to stand in politics.

To be fair the PN and PL are stating they are miles apart. The PN is clearly promoting its governance issue as a central point for its campaign and the PL motivating its arguments by showcasing its undoubted economic successes.

Surely, we can do better than this.  

And we only have ourselves to blame if we continue to accept their arguments as if we had no grey cells to assess, assimilate and then decide.