The underdog

Many of those who still run the institutions have not been removed not because of some ‘taghna lkoll’ diktat, but simply because the term in office has still not run out and Muscat has not been able to replace them

Positioning himself as the underdog is what Joseph Muscat is very good at
Positioning himself as the underdog is what Joseph Muscat is very good at

Edwin Vassallo and Peter Micallef must be very happy men. They have been catapulted back into the House of Representatives after the electorate basically refused them. The three-judge constitutional court basically imposed a decision that in all fairness is a reaction to a fault in the electoral law. A law that could make it impossible for the electoral commission, dominated by members nominated by Edwin and Peter’s political party, to order a recount.

A recount would have eliminated all the fears and suppositions that were bandied about, suggesting that the PN had been grievously maimed by an exercise in the counting of votes. Needless to say we are NOT the only ones in the world with a system that sucks and is full of flaws.  

The Labour party are obviously irked that the PN has been awarded and given two extra seats after the resounding 36,000 vote walk over, and yes they are right when they say that if this decision were to be imposed in a scenario where a one-seat majority existed the whole balancing act of the majority being correctly represented and elected to govern would be seriously jeopardised.

Thankfully, at least in public PM Joseph Muscat has avoided any confrontation on this issue. But I can foresee some sparks flying from Castille.

What I do know is that the decision taken by the court has led many Labour pundits to argue that the court needs Labour-leaning judges.

And if this is a shocking statement it is an inevitable reaction to a decision which frankly is not based on a mathematical logarithm or some logical calculation but on a subjective analysis, which is what usually happens in the Maltese courts.

Where it suits it, the PN bases its arguments on mathematics – who can forget maths-deft Eddie Fenech Adami’s rejoinder to Alfred Sant, that mathematically Labour’s one seat majority was what it should be, when Sant said Labour deserved a bigger seat majority after the 1996 election?

The courts which we are expected to state we respect – but which, let us face it, are made up of men and women like us – make decisions on the emotional baggage and historical perspectives they have lived or decide to follow.

But if Labour had any sense it would learn a lesson or two from this episode. It could serve to galvanise public support for its assertion that it is the underdog when it comes to the next election.

An amazing suggestion, but one that is sounding more plausible, considering that many of the institutions that have Constitutional implications are still run by people who are likely inimical to the government of the day.

And let us face it, if anyone thinks that any political party elected to government can function without hijacking all the institutions they should really cross the Atlantic and see what is happening in the realm of Uncle Sam.

The stark truth that many of those who still run the institutions have not been removed is not because of some ‘taghna lkoll’ diktat but simply because the term in office has still not run out and Muscat has not been able to replace them.  

Hence the underdog label.

Something which I am sure Joseph Muscat will make it a point to emphasise when he addresses his party faithful today and in the coming weeks.

This argumentation is one singular way of regaining sympathy from those sectors who voted for Muscat, have developed cold feet about his style or lack of style, but are still not enamoured of Busuttil.

And surely watching PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami rush out of the court and argue in a very bullish way that this was all Joseph Muscat’s fault, will make many of these potential defectors rethink their defection.

Because unknown to the patronising Fenech Adami but well known to all those who know something about winning elections, the Nationalist party does not need Nationalists to win the next election, it needs disaffected Labourites.

And positioning himself as the underdog is what Joseph Muscat is very good at. And when he arrogantly stated in XTRA that he makes numbers, not follows them, he was trying to say that he is interested to see which numbers he can change to his favour.

He has one very important quality which he utilises over and over again.  His ability to play chess in his mind and then act.  

Apart from taking the stance of being the underdog in the last election, he has also managed to convince others of this position on other fronts, including the international front.

The migration crisis is perhaps a case in point. Muscat has convinced neighbouring countries such as Italy, that Malta is unable to handle the influx of migrants.

But this simply is not true – the influx of black asylum seekers has generated and taken up jobs which Maltese are unwilling to do. Construction work, cleaning and other lowly paid jobs which require some physical effort are shunned by the Maltese.

All over the island, construction companies have been making a killing by paying these individuals minimum wages (if not lower) and making quick profits because of their incredibly low salary bill.  They have also been able to work through holidays and evenings without having to concern themselves with double salaries or conditions or working time quotas.

Everywhere the industry is calling for more migrants to join their workforce but Muscat suddenly jumps on the EU bandwagon and organises the deportation of 28 black asylum seekers.

“We cannot be the odd ones out when we are asked to do so by the EU,” he replied when quizzed by me over his position to deport migrants who had settled in Malta – in contrast to his golden passport initiatives which welcome rogues with tonnes of money to take up a Maltese passport.

Of course I did not tell him that when it suited Malta we stood up to the EU and the European Union parliament and waved our middle finger at them, and off the cuff I could have mentioned hunting in spring, the Panama committee scrutiny of our government ministers and of course abortion.

It is not about pleasing the EU but more so about being populist when it comes to migration.

Muscat and all other politicians know that standing up to migration can only gain them brownie points.  More so when those who share views on migration are representative of the vast majority of the population. The population being under the misguided impression that black is bad, that black is alien and that black is anathema to our culture.

Of course the fact is that our culture has been rocked by globalisation and the greed of economic growth over the last three decades.  The fact that our younger generation hardly know what makes them Maltese, makes me wonder what the whole fuss is all about.

So yes, I guess the whole political saga is one sad story with its colourful chapters in tragi-comedy starting from the counting of votes, the impossibility of mathematical proportions, the unique objectivity of old men in the courts of law and the definition of underdogs.


I will have to say that Anton Refalo’s assertion that MaltaToday attacked his son when referring to the Bogdanovic story was one big overreaction.

The truth is that Anton Refalo lied when he said that he did not know Bogdanovic. The truth is that to prove this, MaltaToday showed that Refalo’s son was coached by Bogdanovic and it was clearly impossible that he did not know the person. No one splashed Refalo’s son’s picture on the papers or the online portals.

That is of course beside the point, because there are far more important aspects to this story which Refalo should be addressing.

And perhaps it is high time that MaltaToday starts to see what is really happening when it comes to the employment of people in Gozo.  This I think is where the whole jigsaw puzzle starts to come together.  

The Bogdanovic story is just the tip of the iceberg, there used to be a time when we would refer to Giovanna Debono as the Queen of Gozo.  

Now, I believe the title must go to another person, albeit better known as the ‘Imperatur.’