Progressive Perspectives

Obama and Sigurðardóttir

Clearly, something big is happening in this little world of ours. Little did America, and indeed the rest of the world ever think that a young man of African descent would, one day, win the highest seat of power in the world with such overwhelming conviction. But the American people, fortunately enough did not fear change, rather they embraced it and elected Obama as their president. It is evident that, to the discomfort of radical democrats and progressives like myself, Obama will not pursue what we expect of him with such haste and vigor...but not all is lost. Of itself, his victory means something - if anything it means that the world is no longer the slave of tradition and that things can change.

And, as I listen to the soothing genius that is Sigur Rós, a post-rock band from Iceland, which inspired me to write this blog-post, I cannot comment on yet another unthought of victory. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir has been called upon to become the Prime Minister of Iceland after a restless, worried but united people brought down her predecessor for failing to overcome the current economic crisis. Notwithstanding the Vatican's recent condemnation of homosexuality as some kind of unholy disease, she has become the world's first openly gay head of government in the modern era. The political situation in Iceland, although currently turbulent is seemingly very interesting as the Left-Green Movement are touted to win the next elections. I hope and sincerely wish that many Jóhanna's are yet to come; that she is only the first but defintely not the last.

Tonio and Joseph

Whoever thought that politics in Malta is simply about two very centrist, strikingly similar political parties, either clinging on to or vying for power ought to think again. It may have been the case for the past 20 or so years, as the Nationalist Party eventually adopted leftist dialectic and the Labour Party fashioned itself on modernity and accepted the free-market ideal. Yet I believe the conservative/liberal ideology has awoken from its dormant slumber and I attibute this recent revival to Labour leader Joseph Muscat and the impact Obama's victory has made on the world. Just a few days ago, VPM Tonio Borg revealed to all and sundry, and to the dismay of Nationalist liberals, that the Nationalist Party is not a liberal party. He argued that homosexual and unmarried couples do not have the right to inherit rented property for it goes against the "social conscience" of the country. In the meantime, Joseph Muscat said, in the Labour Party's AGM that his party does not judge persons according to their wealth, location, race, sexual orientation; that political parties are not there to pass judgment on our private lives but to respect people's choices.

This does not mean that the Nationalist Party is strictly conservative, and Labour strictly liberal. Both parties, being mainstream, have their fair share of liberals and conservatives - but it is, surely, an indication of principle. I hope and sincerely wish that Joseph Muscat will, in the years to come, truly estabish a victorious progressive movement that he is seeking to create. It will be a cumbersome and difficult task but if I have faith in anything, I have faith in this ambitious goal. It explains why I joined the Labour Party and why I advocate and shall continue to advocate a Social Democrat-Green alliance. The country deserves it.


Parliamentary pairing is a dirty game. It has its pros and its cons. It aids democratic efficiency, for it gives leeway to government ministers to pursue their foreign commitments but it hinders those who have been democraticly elected by abstaining from that which is theirs by right. It is a political tool capable of being exploited by both parties in the House. It is thoroughly understandable that the Nationalist Party desires it, especially when it has only a majority of one seat. After all they were victorious in last March's election, albeit just winning with a relative majority. Yet Labour's recent refusal to grant it is equally understandable especially in the face of governmental arrogance and stuborness when it comes to certain major democratic reforms such as establishing transperancy on party funding and in limiting governmental powers as soon as an election has been called. In the end, refusal to give pairing may have just reinforced and strengthened the Labour party's followers and gave the Nationalist Party fodder with which to attack its rival. It is the same old game of cat and mouse which must be undone. It has been abolished in the United Kingdom in 1997 and I think we should follow suit.

Trade Unionism

It truly pains me to see a unionist movement that is trying to establish a sense of purpose but is struggling to do so both because of the above-mentioned governmental arrogance and more worryingly because of historical rivalry between one another, especially the major ones. It is truly a shame and I must say, a betrayal of the working community to be faced with such a situation in which, to the minds of many, trade unions are but puppets of political parties. On the other side of the coin, many party gurus and acolytes on both sides do not help at all by falling victim to this sorry state and are content with reinforcing union rivalry to the detriment of workers who are, today, in a state of struggle and uncertainty. Yet in spite of this popular image I am still hopeful that one day greater unity of the trade-union movement will be achieved and to a certain extent such an intention has been revived. I feel it is a duty of the progressive movement to to aid the unions in this regard.

Social Europe

The Party of European Socialists (PES) have come up with a manifesto which places people at the heart of Europe; people first. Amongst other things it aims to establish 10 million jobs in the alternative energy sector, financial market regulation, climate-change emission reductions a European pact on decent minimum wage for all member states and championing gender equality accross the continent. This is a vision which I strongly support. I equally support the European Green Party's vision for a green social and economic Europe. This is why I will vote for Malta's social democrats and greens in 2009 in the hope that my voice will take Europe that one step closer to my progressive perspectives.

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