Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week; Malta is, at the moment, gearing up for a general election. This means that, since the Maltese are so toxically obsessed with partisan politics, basically everything has stopped and that all attention is on the two respective party leaders; Simon Busuttil and Joseph Muscat.
With the election itself now less than a month away, both party leaders have been blasting proposals out left, right and centre. As June 3rd draws ever closer however, one thing that is becoming increasingly evident to me is the presence of a certain political attitude; one that is a huge reason as to why Malta remains behind the rest of Europe in many elements. It is becoming apparent that proposals are not being treated by party leaders as things that can improve the country; but rather as things that can win them votes. Allow me to explain.
To display this fact, I’ll first jump onto what Joseph Muscat and the Malta Labour Party is saying – not because I’m somehow biased against them, but because they’re the party in government; meaning it makes more sense to start there. Rumours that an early election was coming had been doing the rounds long before the Panama Papers Scandal reared its ugly head again; and it was becoming increasingly obvious through what the government was announcing as well. The decision to put the minimum wage up for instance, whilst a good start (even though a lot have said that more is needed), had very convenient timing.
Moving onto the proposals in general though; one of Dr. Muscat’s keynote ideas in his manifesto is a nationwide revamp of Malta’s infrastructure; namely its roads. Again, it definitely is needed; but did we have to wait till now to get it? You had 4 years in government to at least start this revamp – instead we’ve had to wait till an election was called to hear about this. Another thing that supports my case (and that motivated this article in the first place – hence the title) was the announcement that a location had been chosen by the government for a race track to be built on. Without getting into whether we actually need a racetrack or not (that is a different argument entirely), is it only now, 4 years after you promised the building of said racetrack, that you decide to find a location? It adds further insult to injury that the location picked doesn’t even seem to be suitable for the track (but, again, that is a different argument entirely). The timing of these things smell fishier than the Marsaxlokk fish market does. The most recent and sudden statement by Dr. Muscat that recreational marijuana should be legalised, after so many years of pressure, is the cherry on top of the proverbial cake.
Don’t for one moment, though, think that the PN is totally innocent in this regard. A set of measures aimed at fighting institutional corruption, as proposed by the Nationalists, is something that Malta has been crying out for, for not only these past 4 years; but these past 40 years at least. The PN have, over the decades, been in government long enough to actually implement something like this; so why now? Why have we had to wait this long for these proposals to be promised? It’s the same when it comes to wanting to reduce congestion. Yes it’s needed, but now you get a sense that it’s too little too late; that the problem has escalated to such an unprecedented scale that you’d need something radical for it to be solved even slightly. In so many years of a Nationalist government, (and in the 4 years of a Labour Government as well mind you), there have been promises but no actual progress. It’s a recurring theme.
Before you begin to pen your angry Facebook comment – I want to make one thing clear; these are ALL good proposals, and proposals that WE NEED. The problem however, is the timing of them. It almost feels like these ideas have been there for years, but that they’ve been saved away until we have an election to face. This is not something that has started happening now – it’s a recurring theme; and before politicians from all sides start implementing proposals for the benefit of the country, rather than keeping them stowed away for the benefit of their electoral campaigns, Malta’s potential for progress can never be realised.
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