We are less than a week away from the general election, and having already met Rosianne Cutajar from the Malta Labour Party and Ruben Teeling from the Nationalist Party, we caught up with the Democratic Party’s deputy leader Dr. Anthony Buttigieg. Dr. Buttigieg is running as a candidate for the Democratic Party in the 1st and 10th Districts. He is currently the Deputy Leader of the Partit Demokratiku, as well as working as a doctor at Saint James Hospital
What motivated you to come out for this general election as a candidate?
Well, I’ve never been involved in politics, the last time I was “active” in politics was way back in the 80s when there was a problem – our democracy was in danger and I just came out and protested like everybody else. But I was never involved in a political party. A year ago when Marlene [Farrugia] left the Labour party and decided to start something of her own, she made an appeal on Facebook, and I saw it, I was really angry with the Panama Papers scandal, and I was still angry with the Nationalist Party and what they did in the previous 5 years, so I just went out of curiosity. But straightaway we clicked. Initially it wasn’t even going to be a party, it was going to be a protest movement, but over a few months I worked with the Executive (the main people involved) and I decided to go for it, and found this political party of Partit Demokratiku.
What made you want to come out on your respective party’s ticket for this election?
I wanted something different. In my honest opinion the Nationalist Party of the past and the Labour Party are more of the same. They are roughly the same in substance but different in style. The only difference is that the Nationalist Party tend to do things more subtly (well tended to – as I think they have changed) and the Labour Party are more in your face.
What are you going to bring to the table if you are elected?
If you have realised by the way I write on the internet, I am completely against this “us and them” form of politics we have in Malta, this tribal politics, where if one party is in power, half the country is excluded from participating, practically in anything – both on the higher levels of government and the institutions and the lower levels – if you don’t belong to the party, you don’t have a friend in the party, you are for five years here in limbo, and I don’t agree with that. I think it’s about time we starting acting together as one country – we’re a small country, it’s about time we started pulling the same rope.
Considering that both the PN and the MLP are tainted with corruption either in the near past or in past legislatures; what can your party do to prove to people that they should vote for them?
Well this is the interesting thing about the Coalition agreement. We will be – if we get somebody elected into the government, and the Coalition does win the election – having two parties governing together. The people in my party, Partit Demokratiku, with the exception of Marlene and now Godfrey [Farrugia], never had anything to do with politics – we’re all basically professionals, we have our own jobs, we have our own careers – we didn’t need this – so we’re not in this for money, we’re not in this for power – we are clean. We are brand new, so it’s easy to be a clean party when you’re brand new. The fact that this Nationalist Party, under Simon Busuttil, actually approached us to form a Coalition probably shows an indication that even they are beginning to change their direction, their attitude – and they are open to having checks and balances – and that’s what we will be doing. If we’re there we will be the checks and balances – so they don’t make the mistakes of the past.
Speaking in terms of the future now, where do you see Malta in 10 years time if your party is elected?
If we are elected, I’m hoping that the culture of us and them will go out of the window, and all big parties will be open to making Coalitions with smaller parties, apart from the fact that one of the pillars of the agreement we have with the Nationalist party is that as soon as we go into government they will be calling a convention for Constitutional change – which part of it will be electoral reform – so it would make it easier for small parties to be elected. At the moment, a party needs at least 10-15% of the votes for it to get a candidate elected into government. We need 17% of votes in a district, so if it’s not evenly spread, you’re talking 10-15%. We’re hoping that would change – they would have a national threshold like some other countries, 3-5%, if you get them, you automatically get a member of parliament elected, or something like that – it’s still open to discussion. The whole point is that if we are elected we will break this whole 2 party system forever.
Now if the Nationalist Party is elected, and we do not get anybody elected – Simon has already approached us and told us ‘Listen if nobody gets elected, I still want this to continue’ – so I think he wants to include us in some sort of decision making process. But again, it’s not written in stone – the agreement really comes into effect, legally, if we get somebody elected at the moment.
So for us to get elected they need to vote for a PD candidate on the PN list – because we are part of them. But the thing is, because we are part of the PN list, there isn’t that taboo of voting for a small party, like with the AD ‘vot mitluf’ – so the likelihood of someone getting elected is much higher than if we were on our own – as we would only get 4-5,000 votes nationally. As we are, I won’t be surprised if we get 5 times that much – just because people feel comfortable voting. And people do want change – but you know how Maltese politics is – you vote against a party not for a party very often – you vote for the ‘lesser evil’. Now that we’re on the same list as the Nationalists, people will be voting for us, with the Nationalists, to kick out the Labour party.
And where do you see Malta in 10 years time if your party is not elected?
Where we are now – revolving-door politics. If we don’t manage to get elected now, a small party will never manage to get elected – if it doesn’t work now, it will never happen again this Coalition idea. We are at a perfect time. The Nationalists have still not recovered from their defeat and Labour party lost way to early – so there’s this limbo period, where both parties are in the bad books of everybody at the moment.
Since we are a youth oriented media house, we wanted to ask; what is going to be done by your party – if elected – to guarantee a better future for us youths?
It all stands from what I was saying before – we want to stop this idea of us and them – the idea that 50% of the country benefit when one party is in power, and the other 50% if the other party is in power. We want that young people, whoever they are, whatever their background, have equal opportunities according to their abilities – so you don’t need to have a sponsor or a patron to get you up in the world, to get a good job, to move up in the government department – you’re doing it on your own ability.
Finally, why should people vote for your party?
We’re offering change – something new. I’m not saying that it’s going to be perfect, because obviously we haven’t done it yet. But the idea that finally you have a third voice in parliament, that may be talking for those people who didn’t have a voice, people who don’t feel like they were psychologically, emotionally attached to one of the two main parties that they wanted, somebody who would start speaking outside that box – that’s what we are going to offer.
The Yuppie wishes to thank Dr. Anthony Buttigieg for speaking to us! For more interviews with political candidates, follow us on Facebook HERE!
I feel that I can properly express myself through my writing, and that it's a great way to make myself heard, so that I too can someday make a difference in this complicated world.