Mar­lene’s magic trick

I have been ask­ing my­self since June how Mar­lene Far­ru­gia man­aged to pull that magic trick on me. How could she have kept her PN mem­ber­ship card up her sleeve with­out any­body notic­ing? Did any­one else, be­sides me, as­sume that she wasn’t a mem­ber of the PN

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

ore ques­tions have arisen since the cur­rent PN lead­er­ship elec­tions started. Only peo­ple with mem­ber­ship cards, like Mar­lene, get to vote for Si­mon Busut­til’s re­place­ment. Who else ex­actly, I want to know, is lucky enough to have this spe­cial vote? How does one get to be among the 22,000 tesserati who will de­ter­mine the next leader of the op­po­si­tion and po­ten­tial Prime Min­is­ter?

I used to imag­ine that the ma­jor­ity of these tesserati must be the PN die-hards, the ‘ naz­zjon­al­ist sal-mewt’ thinkers; and of course, I thought the PL equiv­a­lent would be among PL mem­bers and del­e­gates. These are the peo­ple who were born into the party and would never ever dream of vot­ing for an­other one. They do­nate their money and some of them con­trib­ute their time and en­ergy to the party. They also give it their ab­so­lute loy­alty.

How­ever, it has been ob­vi­ous for a while now that among the mem­bers of a po­lit­i­cal party, there are also those who are hardly as loyal as that, and they in­vari­ably end up be­tray­ing the die-hards. Among the PN tesserati, and I sup­pose the PL del­e­gates have them too, there are those sim­ply look­ing to build a po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, who do not mind cross­ing party lines if the need and op­por­tu­nity arise. Mar­lene Far­ru­gia is a clas­sic case, but there are many oth­ers, stretch­ing through the his­tory of all par­ties.

How many of those 22,000 tesserati, who this week­end will choose the next PN leader, are also mem­bers of an­other party, pos­si­bly del­e­gates or even MPs rep­re­sent­ing the PL? And when the PL’s turn to vote in­ter­nally ar­rives, how many of those vot­ers will also pos­sess a PN mem­ber­ship?

Just a re­minder of Mar­lene Far­ru­gia’s bi­og­ra­phy: af­ter serv­ing as a PN coun­cil­lor be­tween 1996 and 1990, she joined the PL in 2003, and was elected as a Labour MP in 2008, all the while re­tain­ing her PN mem­ber­ship. More re­cently, she broke away from the PL to form her own party, the PD. Af­ter peo­ple voted for her as part of a PN-PD coali­tion, she re­vealed that she was, in fact, still a mem­ber of the PN. She still seems to be sig­nif­i­cant part of PD too, is­su­ing state­ments on the sub­ject of pros­ti­tu­tion among oth­ers.

Is that how it is then? Can one be an ac­tive mem­ber of all po­lit­i­cal par­ties?

On the one hand, you have the ‘ sal-mewt’ peo­ple, who give ev­ery­thing they have to give to a sin­gle party, and on the other, you have those that hedge their bets, in­vest­ing their re­sources in sev­eral po­lit­i­cal par­ties rather than one.

Mar­lene Far­ru­gia’s name is not the only one that springs to mind in this con­text: I can think of John Dalli, Chris Car­dona and all those other politi­cians who, as soon as the elec­tion is over, stop hurl­ing abuse at each other and con­tinue do­ing their very lu­cra­tive business across party lines.

There is a film I can­not re­mem­ber at all, ex­cept for one of the char­ac­ters. He wore all sorts of re­li­gious tal­is­mans around his neck – Chris­tian, Mus­lim, Hindu, Bud­dhist, you name it – and would pray to every sin­gle god he had ever heard of, when­ever he found him­self in dan­ger. His rea­son­ing was that which­ever was the true faith, he had pe­ti­tioned that god too, so he would surely have his prayers an­swered.

I sup­pose Mar­lene Far­ru­gia did some­thing sim­i­lar. She staked a claim in sev­eral par­ties at the same time, se­cur­ing her­self a seat in Par­lia­ment. You have to hand it to the woman, it is quite in­ge­nious, and if any­one wants a suc­cess­ful po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, they prob­a­bly should do the same.

Cer­tain re­li­gions de­mand loy­alty, and per­haps po­lit­i­cal par­ties should make this a stronger re­quire­ment too. Is the man who prays to all the gods ‘Chris­tian,’ in the sense that other Chris­tians would ac­cept? Is Mar­lene Far­ru­gia a ‘ Naz­zjon­al­ista’ in the same way as those who proudly call them­selves ‘ Naz­zjon­al­isti sal-mewt’?

What­ever she is, she gets to have a say in the cur­rent Delia v Said elec­tion, whereas I don’t.

The fi­nal ques­tion I’m ask­ing my­self is why aren’t the lists of PN tesserati and PL del­e­gates pub­licly avail­able? I want to see how many names ap­pear on both lists – how many peo­ple are se­cretly sup­port­ing both PN and PL, like Mar­lene did from 2003 un­til 2015?

I was told that to re­veal these names would be a breach of the Data Pro­tec­tion Act, which is true, as things stand.

There are con­texts how­ever that might re­quire a mod­i­fi­ca­tion of Data Pro­tec­tion Laws. The case of sex of­fend­ers springs im­me­di­ately to mind,

So I think lists of PN tesserati and the PL, PD and AD equiv­a­lents should be made pub­lic too. I think if you want to sup­port a po­lit­i­cal party and to have a say in its day-to-day run­ning, to par­tic­i­pate in choos­ing its lead­ers and set­ting its po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tion, then you should be will­ing to make this fact pub­lic.

At least, if we forced ac­tive and vot­ing mem­bers of any po­lit­i­cal party to de­clare these facts openly when some start talk­ing about ‘the es­tab­lish­ment’, we will have a much bet­ter idea of who they might mean.

If the par­ties fear that such a trans­par­ent mem­ber­ship sys­tem will not raise enough funds, then we can have dif­fer­ent tiers of ‘mem­ber­ship’, in­clud­ing one whose mem­bers are anony­mous, but who play no ac­tive role and have no vote in the party.

What we can­not have any­more is our demo­cratic choices be­ing dic­tated by a few peo­ple who are play­ing a dif­fer­ent game al­to­gether. When we vote, politi­cians gen­er­ally tell us that we can­not vote across par­ties be­cause we will ‘waste’ that vote. All of our votes have to go to one party when it comes to the bal­lot. And yet, many peo­ple have learnt how to cross party lines very suc­cess­fully the rest of the time. In their busi­nesses and in their po­lit­i­cal ca­reers, some peo­ple have a far more pow­er­ful ‘vote’ than we do. We can­not have these peo­ple de­cid­ing ev­ery­thing for us, sim­ply be­cause we haven’t re­al­ized that they changed the rules.

We can­not have peo­ple sud­denly pulling out PN mem­ber­ship cards, as if it were a rab­bit from a hat. At the very least, we must make sure that we stock up a few aces in our own sleeves too.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.