Here's a couple of thoughts now that Election 2013 has come and gone. In droves, the people have spoken and voted for change. They gave a massive middle-finger and a righteous ass-kicking to the status-quo. To be honest with you, I was skeptical to the very last moment. When they were banging on the perspex 30 or 40 minutes past 11 on Sunday morning I still couldn't fathom who had won. But my distrust or pessimism was entirely misplaced. The electorate has not feared to change when change was needed. It did it before on several occasions, 1971 and 1987, 2011 (divorce referendum) to name a few. It was, beyond a shred of doubt, a historic result in a local context (any delusions of grandeur would be misplaced).
As a natural consequence of its campaign, the PL now faces a tall order and high expectations. In its first 100 days of government it must set in motion its energy plan, enact the Whistleblowers Act, party financing legislation, and the removal of time-bars on political corruption. In the first year it must embark on a thorough reform of justice and home affairs. Coupled with this would be a much needed (and anticipated) Constitutional reform. This is just the bare minimum that is being expected. Equally important would be to instill a culture of meritocracy and transparency in public appointments, but it would be foolish to assume that Muscat's government should be devoid of persons who enjoy his party's trust and vision. In all European democracies this is a sine qua non.
A fundamental aspect of PL's campaign was its energy plan. Had it failed to be credible on this issue its entire edifice would have crumbled and I would assume that we would have had a possible 2008 repeat. But it is rather clear that it has been credible on its plans. Now it must transform that credibility into concrete action. In doing so, however, it will surely face fierce criticism on three crucial aspects: (1) the two-year time frame, (2) the public procurement aspect, and (3) the environmental impact assessments. It must be prepared to tackle these issues and give clear answers.
One also expects crucial reforms on social issues such as gay rights. I also wish that PL will revise its position on IVF both on its social aspect by making it accessible to all persons and on its scientific aspect by allowing for the freezing of embryos.
Most importantly, however, PL must be closer to the people. This, in realization of the most basic fact that it is there to serve them, and not the other way round.
I am elated that the PN lost the way it did for the simple reason that it taught them a much-needed lesson that the days of nepotism and political patronage are over. All that talk about "arrogance", "cliques" and "oligarchy" might've sounded absurd but there was a lot of truth in that absurdity. Now this is a golden opportunity for the PN to renew itself as a modern Christian Democrat/centre-right party. European Christian democrats might stand for conservative social policies (ideally mild or moderate) and liberal economic policies but they should never treat people as numbers or scum as that would be a gross betrayal of their supposedly Christian roots.
In my opinion, Simon Busuttil should not even be considered as a contender for the PN leadership. His oratory my be calm and sharp but he sounds (and acts) like a patronizing priest preaching from the pulpit. He has proven to be sickeningly condescending as well as gaffe-prone and, therefore, a liability. More serious contenders for this post would be Mario Demarco or Chris Said who are (I hope) more amenable to collective/national interest rather than political/partisan interest.
In essence, PN requires a thorough cleansing of its entire political structures. Rather than embarking upon the project of building a new parliament building it should have seriously invested in rebuilding itself. Yet, despite these much needed calls even from significant insiders the PN continued to pander to personal interests and never distanced itself from scum like DCG, il-Bocca (who has laughably taken credit for PL's victory) and the WE crew.
Kudos go to Dr. Lawrence Gonzi for being more than gracious in defeat although I do respectfully disagree with certain statements I've seen that Lawrence Gonzi's exit was a mistake. Lawrence Gonzi might have fared more than well on the economy but he was dethroned by major political and personal interests throughout these five years and had failed to do anything about it. If not direct acceptance it was a tacit one.
AD was once again the minnow of the electoral result. But this time it got its best result yet with a respectable 1.8% of the national vote (roughly an increase of 38% - 40% over its 2008 result). Hand on heart, however, I truly believed that AD would fare better by making it to the 2% - 2.5% region as polls were showing. I think AD believed this too, or were at least highly optimistic about it. AD must take stock and do away with the profound belief that as a party it is infallible, rather it is the system and/or the electorate which is against it. Blaming everything or everyone but itself would be a grave mistake. I also maintain that AD erred (big time) by ridiculing and generalsing about everyone who would not vote for it. Instead of ridiculing it must ask why. Blaming DCG and Lou Bondi for a swing in Labour's favour is feeble. AD must also accept that even though a mere 8 or 15 minute appearance on public broadcasting is undemocratic, it did get far more airtime, publicity and endorsements this time round. AD also ran an impeccable campaign in social networking. Furthermore, whereas Michael Briguglio's chairmanship might have garnered the respect of the radical left wing, AD needs to stop relying on disgruntled Nationalists (which might explain the great disdain for Muscat) and move beyond the 10th District.
However those 5,500 AD votes should not be forsaken. These votes exceed the national quota. I am delighted that Evarist Bartolo has already spoken up about this issue concerning electoral reform and hope that it is taken on board in this legislature. Bartolo extended the olive-branch before but unfortunately it was shot down by Cassola and (especially) Cacopardo who I respect and admire. Unfortunately an arrogant streak (i.e. a belief that progressive politics is the sole domain of AD) got the better of them at the time. I hope for AD's sake that this does not persist.
I do not expect a co-option in this legislature but I do seriously hope for amendments to the 2007 electoral reforms through which parties or independents can be represented in parliament if they obtain a national quota. I also concur with Mark il-Biwwa that proposing an AD speaker would be a sign of good-will.
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