We are still in the aftermath of a general election which took place a little over 50 days ago, but now as the dust has started to settle and the air has started to clear it is the time for some reflections The cabinet was appointed, the first bill of law was passed, the (governing) Labour Party has elected a new deputy leader (for parliamentary affairs), and the first controversial planning permits were issued; that provides us with enough material to start passing some judgements. However, I believe that in order to evaluate the ongoing endeavours and predict what to expect over the next five years, we need to first calmly asses where we are at currently and how we got here.
A very divisive electoral campaign has just come to an end, the people have spoken and the verdict is out. The Labour Party won by a landslide gaining over 55% of the total vote, increasing its vote tally and margin over last election’s already historic result. This is the largest victory any political party has ever obtained since independence.
This is even more remarkable as it was obtained against not just one other party but against a coalition of, no not two parties but of, many powerful interests. On the ballot box the Labour Party was confronted by a “coalition” made up of, its historical rival, the Nationalist Party and the fledgling Partit Demokratiku. However, in reality, the Labour Party was going up against much more than that.
While the English-Language Newspapers have historically been biased against the Labour Party, this time they were outright campaigning for the PN/Forza Nazzjonali. Two of them in particular crossed the line of journalistic ethics and stopped distinguishing between facts and allegations. The moral-conservative establishment also tried to weigh in albeit in a semi-veiled manner, yet in a stronger way then they had (probably) since 1969. However, considering the huge strides forward made by this country in the civil rights camp, the latter backlash was not that surprising.
Good Governance and the Economy
Despite everything the People have spoken, and the Labour Party was confirmed in Government – “Vox Populi, Vox Dei”, but what led to this electoral success? Another famous phrase comes to mind… ‘It’s the economy, stupid’. Many people maintain that a government delivering a strong economic performance will be forgiven anything, and to a certain point I do tend to agree. The affects of the economic performance on their own, coupled with the lack of a credible alternative would probably have been enough to grant PL a comfortable majority.
My dissonance is with those political commentators would attribute the electoral result solely to the economic feel good factor. They maintain that the majority of the electorate only pursues its personal self-interest and does not care much about good governance or environmental well being, which is when this line of thinking starts to become dangerous. I really hope this is neither the case, nor the message registered by those in charge; as this would be destined to become self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Truth We Need to Start Listening to
As much as we would like to believe otherwise the Human psyche is not that different than an input-output model, and whether we want to admit it or not politicians are human beings like everyone else. Politicians perform an action seeking a desired outcome: money, fame, power, recognition, etc… If their action is rewarded with the desired result they will probably repeat it or even amplify it, otherwise they will change their course of action. If we instil inside Politicians minds the perception that their efforts in favour of the environment or good governance are futile they will simply cease to pursue them.
I doubt that a huge chunk of the electorate factored in the fact that we re not dead last in the E.U. anymore with regards to the percentage of electricity generated from renewable resources. I doubt most people even bothered to check the statistics about recycling before voting. I would be very sceptic if the stoppage of many planning illegalities (including at Montekristo), the removal of abusive billboards from the road sides, or the clean up of several illegal scrapyards influenced the decision of a major part of the electorate ; but maybe…just maybe a few hundreds did.
The Real Choice
I am inclined to believe that if the economic performance had been achieved despite an increase in corruption (even though that is not really possible) PL would still have won, but not necessarily by this margin. However, I believe (or at least want to believe) that this monumental victory is also the result of some people who, despite what the self-righteous establishment tried to dupe us into thinking, voted to reward the government for the advancements achieved even with regards to “Governance” and the “Environment” – despite the shortcomings. A vote to encourage the government to keep improving and overcome those shortcomings, or preferably affect the leap of quality that is so sorely needed, also in these areas.
Sacrificing our environment in the name of economic development would be the equivalent of borrowing (from our future well-being) to spend it today. We cannot choose between “good governance” and “prosperity”, we will either get both or none, especially in the long-term. It will not be an easy argument to even put forward, but this is a “fight” which I intend to carry forward through this site.