A tale of two parliaments
It's crystal clear that many people do not understand the democratic systems of their own countries. Here we have people proclaiming that "we won by 40000 votes, so our government can do whatever it wants".
In the UK you get Leavers telling you "We won so we're leaving the EU". But, actually, the UK, like Malta, is a parliamentary democracy. Elected representatives do not think that leaving the EU without a deal is good for the UK. For 3 years they have been trying to square the circle of leaving the EU and not having the UK in a worse off situation. They've been helplessly and hopelessly looking for unicorns.
The remit of a democratically elected member of parliament is to look out for the common good. So even if a majority of people want to jump off a cliff, MPs are duty bound to not allow them to. It's how a parliamentary democracy works. Parliament is sovereign. It's meant to stop mob rule, it's meant to stop the people harming the country. It's also meant to be a check on the Executive.
In Malta our parliamentary democracy is dead and buried. There is absolutely no holding of the Executive to account by our parliament. It seems to me as though there's just a biding of time of the Opposition, a waiting for the incumbent administration to loot, pillage and award contracts to their cronies. Until it's their turn (they think) to do the same.
I know some Westminster politicians have dithered and been feart to put their heads above the parapet but at least many have tried to hold the UK Executive to account, to be a check and balance. Here we simply have a biding of time, a treading of water.
The main problem with the toxic political duopoly is that both PN and PL diehards do not see that they are PN and PL diehards. Even some of the anti-Delia ex PN crowd hark back to the so-called glory PN days and do not see that previous PN administrations were far from perfect. Now I didn’t live in Malta from 1989 to 2010 but you don’t have to look very far to see evidence of this incompetence of PN at best or its malevolence at worst.
The most shocking illustration of this is the number of building collapses on the watch of previous PN administrations. And for the very same reason the recent building collapses happened – the negligence of developers illegally excavating far too close to third party walls. Three people died in two separate building collapses in 2000 and 2004. People were also injured in others.
As if this weren’t bad enough, there then was the scandalous (in)justice experienced by the bereaved Vella family at the hands of our (in)justice system. Nineteen years it took our Criminal and Civil courts to torture the Vella family in a prolonged purgatory. Nineteen years, and still justice was not served. The state, which is ultimately responsible for the functionality or otherwise of our justice system, looks on imperviously. Nineteen years later and we have the collapse of 3 buildings in 2019. Would these have collapsed if our justice system had served proper justice to the Vella family and all other victims in a timely manner? Is this what the more recent victims are going to have to endure?
Of course, there are more signs of PN administration failures. More mundane failures, but still impactful on the lives of ordinary citizens and residents of Malta. Like the Arms billing system. Or the Annual Car Licence fee discrimination. Or the decision to penalise teachers for moving sector. Or a complete free for all private rental market. Or the pre-1995 anti landlord discrimination. Or the 2006 Rationalisation of Development Zone Boundaries (now that’s a title of an Orwellian Ministry of Truth bulletin if there ever was one). So many more.
The situation today did not create itself out of a vacuum. Yes, the PL administration is completely responsible for the direction it has chosen to take since 2013. It certainly has not made good on its promises of transparency, meritocracy or looking after the environment. It missed a golden opportunity to increase the bar, to show PN how good governance is done. I predict that in the long term PL will definitely suffer the consequences of this.
However, the stark fact remains that PN has not had a post mortem of the reasons for its two successive electoral defeats of 2013 and 2017. It has not accepted its share of responsibility for the current impasse. It persists with the duopoly status quo. PN thinks that, by some miracle, the days of alternation of power from PN to PL and vice versa will return soon. It doesn’t see that that ship sailed a long time ago.
The people gave PL a chance in 2013 when PN failed to impress. Just like PN was discarded, this will also happen to PL. Already you see growing signs of a disgruntlement as the consequences of Joseph Muscat's economic model of choice are increasingly felt.
And then what next? Will the reins of power fall to PN? Heck no. Not in a million years. PN will not have the ability to organise the proverbial in a brewery let alone be an attractive proposition for the electorate to vote them in power ever again. Thus, in my opinion, the days of the PNPL duopoly are numbered.
It therefore follows that a new politics will come into play. Something will be building into the vacuum caused by this endangerment of the political duopoly. The people are key. Somehow, over the decades, PNPL have manipulated and manoeuvred the electorate into feeling loyalty for PN or PL. With the result that each of them has come to complacently expect a sizeable number to defend them to the hilt, no matter what. In this way, we fight each other and are distracted from the maladministration of the day.
The critical voices are increasing. One day soon, a critical mass of people, critical of both PN and PL, will exponentially show how to refuse to play the bipartisan game. Social media is helping to show incontrovertibly how successive administrations take for granted their ability to ignore the well being of the ordinary citizen and resident.
In the meantime, I suppose, we have to endure the last dregs of the duopoly circus. It’s interesting how so few of the politicians seem to be able to see the writing on the wall. Soon, the nakedness of the emperors will no longer be denied.