Choosing a plurality of voices rather than not voting

If your choice is to stay at home on 8 June, we encourage you to explore shaking up the system by going out to vote for third party candidates and independents

There will be a growing cohort of voters on 8 June who will choose to stay home or spoil their vote. The reasons for not voting will be many and could range from having a personal grievance that remains unresolved – whether justified or not – to a rejection of the political class based on anger or it could simply be some are disinterested in politics.

This large group of non-voters, which surveys currently suggest could surpass 100,000, is anything but homogeneous. It is made up of different people with different values and different conceptions of politics. The only established similarity between them is the decision to stay at home and not partake in the exercise of democracy.

This leader is addressed to those within this large cohort who may have had a strong political allegiance in the past to either of the two main parties but who today feel estranged by the Labour Party’s growing arrogance in power and the Nationalist Party’s ineptitude to be a plausible alternative. To these people staying it at home is one way of sending a message to the two major parties.

The act of not voting is a legitimate choice but one that this leader will not encourage because having a disenfranchised electorate is not a good thing for a healthy democracy.

The truth is that irrespective of your decision to stay at home, a choice will be made on 8 June on who should be running our local councils and representing us in Brussels. Hundreds of councillors will still be chosen and the six MEPs will be elected just the same… with or without your vote. These elected officials will be taking decisions on your behalf and someone else would be choosing for you.

If you cannot get yourself to vote for select candidates within the traditional political party you supported in the past, then you should explore other candidates on the ballot sheet belonging to third parties or standing as independents.

The only way to break the status quo and shock the Maltese system is to cast the duopoly aside and elect a third or fourth voice, whether in Europe or on a local level.

Not voting only strengthens the very same system that has created this sense of hopelessness and disgust.

On a local level, independent councillors such as Steve Zammit Lupi on the Ħaż-Żebbuġ council, and before him Nigel Holland in Floriana, have shown that they can make a difference to their locality. Alternattiva Demokratika councillors in the past also injected reasonableness at local level, while championing environmental causes others would conveniently cast aside.

The deadlock may be harder to break at European level but the list of candidates outside the PL and PN is long, varied and although it contains some mavericks, there are also level-headed individuals who have a lot to contribute. There is a choice out there. Electing a plurality of voices can deliver a powerful shock to the system, akin to using a defibrillator on someone who has passed out.

If your choice is to stay at home on 8 June, we encourage you to explore shaking up the system by going out to vote for third party candidates and independents. In this way, you will have a say in the destiny of your country and your locality rather than leave it up to others to make that choice for you.

And in the process, you will also be sending the strongest message possible to the two major political parties because it hits them where it hurts most.