‘Wounded but not dead’ – Cassola says AD right in not joining PN

Green Party chairman Arnold Cassola says he has no regrets at AD’s decision not to take an easy ride on PN votes 

Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Arnold Cassola with deputy chair Carmel Cacopardo
Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Arnold Cassola with deputy chair Carmel Cacopardo

Green Party chairperson Arnold Cassola has kept up a defiant stand in support of his party’s decision not to rent out space on the Nationalist Party’s ballot sheet as candidates on a joint list.

Alternattiva Demokratika, which has been contesting elections since 1992, ended up with just over 0.8% of the popular vote – similar to its 2008 outing – reaching once again a nadir in popularity.

“As expected, the result was a bad one,” said Prof. Arnold Cassola, whose party refused to take the cue of former Labour MP’s Marlene Farrugia Democratic Party to contest on the PN ticket. Farrugia could now be in line for a seat in parliament after amassing over 3,000 votes on the tenth district, a PN stronghold.

“Expected, because we decided to stand up for our principles and values before our personal egoism, that is, the easy way of riding on the PN’s votes and trying to get into parliament with their number ones and inherited votes.”

Cassola said that his party’s principles had come at the cost of a social media barrage of name-calling and insults, saying he had been “punished by being called ‘barri’ (bull), ‘muqran’ (cuckold), Judas and traitor.”

“But worse than that, for being principled we were demonised by the PN party machine that encouraged its supporters to close ranks and to avoid casting any preference votes for our candidates,” Cassola added.

At one point, The Malta Independent’s own editor Stephen Calleja wrote that voting for AD, which has only ever commanded a maximum of over 5,000 votes in its history, would be a “vote for Labour”.

“With hindsight, am I sorry that AD did not join the supposed coalition and that at the moment I am not in the running for a seat in parliament, on a par with craftier politicians than us? The answer is absolutely not.

“On the contrary I am even more convinced that we did the right thing by not pandering to hunters, to the Armier shantytown owners, to the Gozo tunnel aficionados in order to get votes, but stood strong sticking to our values.”

Cassola said AD had lost 3,000 votes from the last election, when the party was chaired by Michael Briguglio, who in this election took a stand in favour of the ‘Forza Nazzjonali’ coalition between the PN and PD, and publicly lent his face to the effort.

“Being the Chair of AD, the major responsibility for this loss is obviously mine. In the following weeks AD will have to take stock of the situation and chart the way forward for the future. But your precious 2,500 and over number one votes cast for AD make us proud. We know that out there, there are Maltese people who appreciate politicians standing up for one’s principles and looking at politics not just as an opportunistic way of getting a seat in parliament,” Cassola said.

The academic did not suggest he would resign, although he had already resigned after the 2008 election before taking up the position again after the resignation of fellow academic Michael Briguglio in 2013.

Indeed, Cassola might have attempted a slight dig at his predecessor, even if not mentioned by name. “We are of course wounded but certainly not dead, as someone in the Maltese intelligentsia might have wished.”

“Your precious support gives me the strength to continue looking Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in the eye and to remind him that if he does not kick out Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and Brian Tonna out of Castille, if he does not immediately convene a Constitutional convention to reform our comatose institutions, then he is leading our country into a sure future of moral and ethical decline… With your help, AD can continue to be a leading beacon of honesty, consistency and credibility in Maltese politics.”