Our political parties are in silly electioneering mode. As sweetie after sweetie is promised like there is no tomorrow, I find myself feeling insulted and angrier by the minute.
It’s not enough that 53 years after independence our country is in the state it is in – institutional break down, a constitution that is not worth the paper it is printed on... No, of course not – the electorate has to be bribed into voting for one party or the other by promising measures attractive to a powerful lobby or two. Not that this isn’t normal practice in most parts of the world but the relaxed brazenness with which it is done takes my breath away.
For example, this is a headline from the Times of Malta of May 15, 2017: “ Hunting penalties may be in need of downward revision – Muscat.” Some may be ones that I agree with like this one: “Busuttil announces PN proposals on animal welfare” (Times of Malta of May 16, 2017).
In most normal countries, it is a given that most people vote not for what they can get for themselves but for an ideal that you would like your country to aspire to.
So, yes some vote winning measures announced by a political party point to the direction that party will take the country in. For example, the reduction of hunting penalties to encourage more illegal hunting, proposals on improving the lot of animals...
The first should repulse people who believe that there should be strong deterrents for illegal hunting. On this one though I am intrigued by the calculation that must have been made: “ If we propose this, will we lose the vote of the anti-hunting lobby? Or is it the case that even passionately anti hunting Labour Party voters will still vote for us, anyway?” The blind partisanship coming into play again.
The second should please animal lovers. And yes, I do agree with this one.
But – and it’s a big but – conspicuous by their very absence amongst all these sweeteners - are issues which are so important, so vital that I am increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the election, no matter who is elected.
What are all the parties’ proposals re any institutional and constitutional change? What are the fine details of this? What are the timetables of reform, if any, to our justice system, our financial industry, the FIAU, the MFSA, MEPA ( or whatever two entities it is called now), the National Audit Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the accountability of the Police Commissioner, the Broadcasting Authority and the Attorney General... Our electoral system – how is this going to be changed to make sure that our Parliament is more representative? So many more fundamental questions on these lines.
And questions on proposals of all political parties on issues that I feel very passionate about – what are the proposals on housing policy, social justice? What are we going to do about the culture of rampant tax evasion and tax avoidance in this country? Again, I want detail, timetable...
You see, people overpaying on their utilities, living in substandard, overpriced accommodation of insecure tenure cannot wait years until we have institutional and constitutional change. They are living in despair TODAY.
PN have published their proposals on housing. They are still making a song and dance about refunding tenants in social housing the ‘overpayment’ of €1.50 per month they have, according to PN, ‘overpaid’ in rent. This, while tenants in the private rental sector pay 60%, 70% of their income on rent.
PL, on the other hand, as far as I can see, have come up with nothing.
These are the issues that our politicians should be campaigning on. The fact that they are not does not bode well.