Mov­ing away from Ali Baba pol­i­tics

Way back in 2008 dur­ing the gen­eral elec­tion, Al­ter­nat­tiva Demokratika – The Green Party in Malta had put the is­sue of a pos­si­ble par­lia­men­tary coali­tion on the na­tional po­lit­i­cal agenda.

Malta Independent - - FIGURE THIS -

An ar­chi­tect and civil en­gi­neer, the au­thor is deputy chair­man of Al­ter­nat­tiva Demokratika – The Green Party in Malta. ca­co­par­do­, www.carmel­ca­co­pardo.word­

The PN, then, did its best to try and ridicule the pro­posal as it pre­ferred to go it alone. At the end of the day, the PN just man­aged to scrape through the gen­eral elec­tion by the min­i­mum of mar­gins (1580 votes) on a na­tional level. Even­tu­ally, how­ever, it had to pay the con­se­quences, as it ended up as a po­lit­i­cal hostage of a cou­ple of un­prin­ci­pled mav­er­icks.

Si­mon Busut­til is try­ing not to re­peat his pre­de­ces­sor’s mis­take. He has called for the for­ma­tion of a coali­tion against cor­rup­tion, hop­ing that un­til the forth­com­ing gen­eral elec­tion, such a coali­tion will co­a­lesce around the PN. This is sim­i­lar to the strat­egy adopted by Joseph Mus­cat who trans­formed the Labour Party into what he de­scribed as a “move­ment”. In prac­tice, how­ever, Mus­cat’s en­deav­ours have only trans­formed his Labour Party into a modern day ver­sion of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves!

To date, both the PN and the Labour Party have acted in such a way that the only coali­tion that made sense to them was the one within their own par­ties as both of them have over the years de­vel­oped into grand coali­tions, at times cham­pi­oning di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed causes, si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

How­ever, coali­tions are forged quite dif­fer­ently, at least those coali­tions that are in­tended to con­trib­ute pos­i­tively to the lo­cal po­lit­i­cal kaleidoscope. The first foun­da­tion on which coali­tions are built is re­cip­ro­cal re­spect. With­out re­cip­ro­cal re­spect, those form­ing part of a coali­tion end up clown­ing around, try­ing to im­press those around them with their buf­foon­ery.

A sec­ond es­sen­tial pre­req­ui­site for a coali­tion is an agreed po­lit­i­cal pro­gramme which clearly com­mu­ni­cates the agreed com­mon ob­jec­tives of the coali­tion mem­bers. It would ob­vi­ously be ex­pected that mem­bers of such a coali­tion act in ac­cor­dance to such an agreed po­lit­i­cal pro­gramme. Sup­port­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion as an es­sen­tial el­e­ment of a pro­gramme to bet­ter ev­ery­one’s qual­ity of life would un­doubt­edly fea­ture in such an agreed po­lit­i­cal pro­gramme to which Al­ter­nat­tiva Demokratika could ad­here. This would also be in line with the PN’s re­cent “con­ver­sion” in sup­port of en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivism.

It is not how­ever clear how th­ese newly dis­cov­ered cre­den­tials of the PN are man­i­fested by go­ing around pat­ting the man­age­ment of Palumbo Ship­yards and Malta Freeport Ter­mi­nals on the back, con­grat­u­lat­ing them on their achieve­ments which have in­con­ve­nienced their neigh­bours in the sur­round­ing lo­cal­i­ties. This was re­cently done by Leader of the Op­po­si­tion Si­mon Busut­til dur­ing his vis­its to the Għajn Dwieli yard and the Kalafrana Ter­mi­nal.

Con­sis­tency by coali­tion mem­bers is not only de­sir­able, it is an es­sen­tial pre­req­ui­site for a coali­tion in­tended to last!

A coali­tion is not formed just to win an elec­tion. On the con­trary, it seeks to win an elec­tion in or­der to be in a po­si­tion to im­ple­ment an agreed elec­toral pro­gramme. Win­ning an elec­tion is a means to an end and not an end in it­self. It is for this rea­son that coali­tions seek to bring to­gether peo­ple and po­lit­i­cal par­ties who share a suf­fi­cient num­ber of ideals on the ba­sis of which they can con­struct a com­mon elec­toral plat­form. Oth­er­wise, what pur­pose would be served if those form­ing part of a coali­tion are not at ease with the new po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment which they seek to cre­ate?

For this spe­cific rea­son, coali­tions must be based on sound po­lit­i­cal prin­ci­ples. Hav­ing a coali­tion or a po­lit­i­cal party based on any­thing else is a recipe for the cre­ation of an ad­di­tional Ali Baba den, of which the present one is more than enough.

A so­lu­tion to the cur­rent eth­i­cal cri­sis, which Malta’s po­lit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture is faced with, will not be de­liv­ered by a Par­lia­ment which is com­posed of only two po­lit­i­cal par­ties. This eth­i­cal cri­sis can only be over­come if more than two po­lit­i­cal par­ties make it to Par­lia­ment, and if the win­ner-takes-all men­tal­ity and be­hav­iour is con­signed to the dust­bin of his­tory once and for all. This is both es­sen­tial and pos­si­ble with­out any changes to Malta’s elec­toral leg­is­la­tion and still al­lows for like-minded po­lit­i­cal par­ties to form a coali­tion.

It is im­por­tant that those who have dis­carded good gov­er­nance are set aside by the elec­torate in the forth­com­ing gen­eral elec­tion. It is how­ever equally im­por­tant that the ma­chin­ery of gov­ern­ment is never again en­trusted into the hands of one sin­gle po­lit­i­cal party. In Malta’s par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances, only this can guar­an­tee that good gov­er­nance is placed on solid foun­da­tions.

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