The Farrugias’ fateful legacy

Under the circumstances, it is debatable whether the PD can even be said to exist any longer, as a political force in this country

The sudden resignation of MPs Marlene and Godfrey Farrugia from the Partit Demokratiku has left the fledgling party both leaderless and rudderless, merely two years after it was formed.

It has also plunged Malta’s already fragmented parliamentary Opposition into further disarray: indirectly strengthening the Labour Party’s grip on power, at a time when it already enjoys a staggering 58% approval rating.

To describe the announcement as a ‘bombshell’ would indeed be an understatement. The Farrugias have unexpectedly dropped an atom bomb on the PD: so much so that party officials emerged from Wednesday’s annual general meeting without any plans for its own immediate future.

From this perspective it cannot be ignored that the Farrugias’ decision to call it quits at this delicate ‘mid-term’ stage of the party’s representation in the legislature, can only inflict maximum damage to the party. If so, one has to truly question the brusqueness of this timing.

Almost a week after the event, not a single PD exponent has commented about the state of the party right now: other than to cryptically ’thank the Farrugias’ for a ‘contribution’ they have no particular reason to feel thankful for.

For all the PD’s past insistence of ‘transparency’ and ‘openness’, its members have so far avoided giving comments and interviews to the press themselves; and there has been no satisfactory explanation for the twin resignations themselves, nor any indication of how – or even whether – the party intends to regroup.

Under the circumstances, it is debatable whether the PD can even be said to exist any longer, as a political force in this country. And apart from being a great pity in its own right, this is also ultimately a disservice to the voters who elected two PD officials (albeit on the PN ticket) in the last election; if not to the democratic process as a whole.

The Farrugias in particular, have disappointed voters who saw in PD an alternative to the PN: even to the point of sacrificing the PN’s own vote, rewarding them with two seats in parliament (one of them granted by former PN leader Simon Busuttil himself, by allowing a casual election on a district where Godfrey Farrugia was next in line to be elected).

Now, the Farrugias are leaving the PD mid-way through their second legislature, without even allowing the party the chance to have their MPs in the House up until the end of the legislature. Even that simple courtesy has been denied.

This can only cement the existing perception – mostly among PN die-hards – that the PD had simply hitched a free ride on the PN’s back. If so, however, their subsequent resignation raises questions as to why Marlene and Godfrey Farrugia were even interested in getting elected in the first place.

It may, however, shed some light on the motives behind their resignation. With Adrian Delia shooting down any prospect of a future coalition with PD, it must have dawned on the Farrugias that their chances of re-election in 2020 were practically zero. But if that was indeed the motive, it can only mean that they both viewed electoral success merely as an end in itself.

Clearly, something is wrong in the way the Farrugias view politics: they have talked the talk, with promises of honesty in politics, and yet they have fallen at the first hurdle by refusing to trudge along with the party they themselves set up.

This is hardly an iota of the spirit that has motivated other minority parties like Alternattiva Demokratika: which, despite its lack of electoral success, has nonetheless moved forward in its political journey with its steady stream of long-time volunteers and new faces.

All in all, it is a disappointing legacy for any politician to leave behind.


Hope needs to be encouraged, not extinguished

It speaks volumes about the state of the world right now, that so much would be said and written about Greta Thunberg – the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist who is making waves across the world – and so little about the issue she is actually campaigning about.

Clearly, it is a lot easier to mock and criticise a 16-year-old schoolgirl, than to do something about the global threat caused by climate change. But that is no excuse for ignoring the writing on the wall.

Whatever one makes of the messenger, the message itself is surely not one to be dismissed. And Greta Thunberg’s message is deceptively simple: on one level she (quite rightly) chides world powers for their inaction on this critical issue; but on another, she argues – with equal conviction – that not all hope is lost. We can still take action to save our planet from disaster, if we only stopped burying our heads in the sand and pretending that the problem doesn’t exist.

That is a message of hope that deserves to be applauded, not derided. If anything, we should be thankful that the younger generation (unlike their elders, it seems) still believe that ‘saving our planet’ is a cause worth fighting for.

Above all, Greta Thunberg’s tenacity only amplifies the importance of her role in providing much needed rhetoric that puts forward the harrowing reality of the climate emergency.

Mocking her for her age, or the disorder she suffers from, does not address the urgency of that message.