Q&A | A good dose of common sense | Alex Perici Calascione

Alex Perici Calascione traces his involvement in politics back to student-activism days of the late 70s. Today he will be contesting the 11th district on a PN ticket. He tells MaltaToday that he wants to contribute to more meaningful debates, with less rhetoric

Alex Perici Calascione
Alex Perici Calascione

How did you first get involved in politics?

I have actively followed the political scene since the student-activism days of the late seventies and early eighties. By 2008 I was approved as a party candidate and, following a two-year stint on the board of AZAD, I was elected as party treasurer and member of the party’s administrative and executive branches in 2013.

Which part of the political life appeals to you?

This would have to be the direct contact with people in a way which is like no other. Having been a practising lawyer for the past 31 years, contact with people, often in particularly tough situations, is pretty much the order of the day for me in any event. However, I have discovered that the way people relate to you in a political context is very different. Intrinsically tied to this is the actual possibility of playing a determining role in actions and decisions which, if properly taken, can improve the lives of so many.

Why PN?

Political discussion at home was always free and we were all able to make our own minds along the way. My own formative years took place throughout the upheavals of the 1976-1986 era. I was greatly attracted then to political principle based on the value of the individual and on placing the individual and his/her full development at the centre of political life, whilst ensuring that no one is left behind. The commitment to European Union membership was a natural development to which I was completely committed. Love it or hate it, ups and downs and all, the Nationalist Party always rose to the occasion whenever the going got toughest for our country and history has largely proved it right. 

If elected, what do you personally hope to change?

I certainly wish and fully intend to give my best shot at a more meaningful parliamentary debate; the lessening of utterly useless acrimonious rhetoric (which might boost some egos on either side of the divide, but contributes absolutely nothing to significant debate); at placing real life issues at the centre of policies and legislative frameworks and, unpretentiously, at contributing a good dose of plain common sense which is always a good thing to have more of. 

Which, in your opinion, were the Opposition’s best and worst mistakes since the 2013 general election?

The Opposition’s worst mistake in my opinion was the decision to abstain on the civil union legislation whilst the best moments were those in which, for the first time in our parliamentary history, legislation was passed (including a constitutional amendment) on the initiative of the Opposition.

Which, in your opinion, were the government’s best and worst mistakes since the 2013 general election?

The government’s best moments in my opinion were those in which it acted to lessen certain excessively bureaucratic practices adopted by the previous administration. The worst mistakes were undoubtedly those originating from what has since emerged to be a shameful and underhand parallel road map of undiluted corruption, evidenced in one doubt-ridden contract after another, crowned and confirmed by the refusal of the Prime Minister to sack his most powerful Minister and his Chief of Staff immediately as the Panama Papers scandal emerged. It is far too little and far too late for him to do that now.

Based on your door-to-door encounters, what are the top three concerns of families?

I am standing for the 11th district which itself presents a large variety of social, economic and demographic realities. Three common concerns are (i) the difficulties in ensuring a good standard of living in the face of unchecked rising costs even of basic commodities; (ii) a general feeling of “things not being at all right” in the current method of governance and (iii) a lessened quality of life, downed by unmanaged traffic and heavily downgraded environmental priorities.

The PN said that this election is going to be fought on principles: Do you agree? What do you think matters most?

In normal circumstances elections are fought on the basis of who can govern and administer the country better overall, to which in our Mediterranean experience, we add a contest of specific identifiable proposals. This is all well and good, as long as the proposals are not glaringly and opportunistically vote-catching. This time however it goes much, much further and runs much, much deeper than that. This time it is all about re-establishing, as urgently as possible, seriousness in governance; the heavily-tarnished and hard-earned good reputation of our country and, indeed, our very dignity – both nationally and internationally.

Why should free childcare services be extended to non-working parents? Do you think that other different family-friendly measures should be introduced?  

We are talking here precisely of “family-friendly measures” and not “socio-economically restricted family friendly measures”. The accent here is a drive to assist families across the spectrum of Maltese society so that our society can benefit as a whole. The measures introduced by this government were a step in the right direction. The PN’s proposals meaningfully take this to another level. There are and will certainly be other measures that need to be taken as our society changes further.

A possible framework for the recreational use of cannabis has been suggested by both political parties: in your opinion, how can Malta’s drug policy be reformed?

The worst contribution to any meaningful debate is certainly any proposal shot from the hip as an electoral promise to deviate attention. This is even more so when the subject-matter at issue – our national drug policy, already heavily shaken by the scandalous and grossly-disturbing Gozo cover-up story broken by Malta Today – is a delicate and particular one. We need to first properly take stock of the reality facing our children and indeed all of us, out there and then strike a balance between the “holier-than-thou” attitude of some and the “anything goes” approach of others. Indeed let’s discuss frameworks. Whatever the outcome however, it should never, ever be done at the expense of the vulnerable and at the price of a total breakdown of law and order in this sector.

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