It’s all so surreal

I hazard to guess that come Election Day, the percentage of abstainers and vote spoilers will be much more than what has been the average in the past.

 

With the two main political parties arguing vehemently about who did what to whom in the so-called 'Mistra' story that broke out bang in the middle of the election campaign four years ago, many must be wondering whether our politicians live in the real world.

Whether the Mistra saga helped the PN win the election or actually led to its losing a number of votes, it is now over and has been over for so many years. Yet it has now been resuscitated in the wake of the antics of Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando (JPO) who was the main protagonist in the whole blown-up affair.

Much more serious, I would have thought, is the situation in which the Prime Minister and his government find themselves following JPO's resignation from the PN and his declared stance in Parliament as an independent MP - a stance that leaves the PM some room for maneuvering at the expense of the complete loss of his dignity and his credibility.

The charges that are being levied at each other by the PN and the PL regarding what had actually happened - something that we might never know for sure - are irrelevant to the current political situation. They can only be considered as light foreplay before the heavy stuff starts! And with the nasty mood that the two parties are displaying, we are in for a particularly nasty dose of heavy stuff during the election campaign - whenever that particular starting whistle is officially blown.

Is this a repeat of 1998, when former Prime Minister Alfred Sant told everybody to enjoy the summer season in a cool and relaxed manner, only to call an election in mid-September? If it is, the current Prime Minister is carrying on the 'cool and relaxed' game to new extremes.

According to what he told the party faithful last Sunday, the government intends to continue on regardless and present next year's budget after the House of Representatives reconvenes in October. Is his pretence that nothing serious has really changed real or an exercise in bluff that has gone overboard? No one knows. The sceptics among us have now probably concluded that not even the Prime Minister knows. His indecisiveness has now become legendary.

Unfortunately all this is leading to an extreme case of general disenchantment in the political class of 2012: The PN is being perceived as being led by someone who has lost touch with reality, while the PL is being perceived as being led by someone who has not really cleared all the skeletons in his party's cupboard and is in danger of being haunted by his party's past, notwithstanding his intentions.

This is the general mood that I am consistently finding out there in the street; where whatever people say does not really matter... except for what their reasoning and perceptions lead them to decide on voting day.

I hazard to guess that come Election Day, the percentage of abstainers and vote spoilers will be much more than what has been the average in the past. I think that this time around, the number of those voters who according to the polls are listed as abstainers and undecided will not diminish into almost nothing in the dramatic way that happened in past elections.

It will only be then that the two political parties will come out of their surreal bubble and crash down headlong into reality.

***

Even though most people tell me that I am spot on in my harsh assessment of the leadership qualities of Lawrence Gonzi, I have been taken to task by some who have concluded that I have some hidden personal agenda that is pushing me to state what, for me, is so obvious.

In the realms of surrealism, it is not on for a Nationalist to criticize the leader of his party in the manner I do. So rather than being pushed to break out of the comfortable bubble in which they have unconsciously opted to take refuge, some party faithful have concocted all sorts of 'explanations' for my 'errant ways'. Some have implied that I have some personal issue with him. Others are saying that Lawrence Gonzi has refused to grant me something that I asked from him, one example being that I wanted to contest the election again and that my candidature was refused. All this is utter nonsense, of course.

I have not asked for anything for myself and the few who really know me personally are aware that asking something for myself has never been in my books - not even when I felt I deserved it. The idea that whatever anybody says is motivated by a hidden personal agenda is yet another result of the way we do politics in Malta. This does not mean that in other countries, politics is not also rife with personal agendas. However, explaining away all that is said by observers or reported in the press as the result of somebody's personal agenda is too simplistic and convenient - but it is a reaction that perfectly fits the surrealistic bubble syndrome!

Personal agendas do exist, of course, but sometimes a comment is just a comment - just as Freud once famously said that 'sometimes a cigar is just a cigar'. In other words, not everything has some deep hidden meaning or intention.

My motivation is simply the desire to see again the PN as the great rainbow coalition that it once was, a strong popular party practising what it believes in rather than manoeuvring to remain as unscathed as possible in the political fray. 

Everybody, of course, has his or her personal biases and prejudices and I am no exception to this rule. These prejudices might sometimes lead me to exaggerate somewhat, but this would hardly make my assessment to be the complete opposite of the truth.

Perhaps, on the other hand, this is just an obsession of mine. This is where I start doubting whether I myself am venturing into creating my own surreal world. Yet I think it is impossible for most ordinary people I meet to be ganging up in order to feed my obsession with delusions and make me believe that I am right when I am not.

Of course, people interpret what they are told and see facts in ways that fit their preconceived ideas. I know that this danger exists and constantly strive to see all sides of the coin, this being a particularly irregular and strange coin with so many more sides to it than two!

What a pity that leaders of political parties and party spokespersons fall into this trap too often!

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