Recently there has been much talk of a coalition against corruption between PN and the smaller parties, a concept touted by PN Leader Simon Busuttil.
The idea is interesting but as deputy leader of Partit Demokratiku, I take exception to the idea of a coalition against something. Why such negativity? If there are to be coalitions, they should be there to build something new, not halt what already exists.
Politics in Malta is all about negativity and exclusion. Many people do not vote for a party, but rather against one. And why is that? We are bombarded every election cycle with news and accusations of corruption by the ruling party, and yet, never, since Independence, has a minister been brought to account.
It leads us, the people, to conclude either that the accusers have been lying all along and have been taking us for a ride, or that both major parties are in private collusion with each other to hide their corruption to the benefit of both.
I will leave you to judge which is more likely. In the meantime, we choose between what we perceive is the lesser of two evils.
Yet the people are disgruntled with the current political system. They are fed up with the politics of contrast; fed up of the mentality of us and them; fed up with political parties who put themselves and their members first, and the country and its citizens second; fed up with the rotating door culture where, when one party is in power, half the population benefits and the other half suffer.
We are one very small nation; we cannot afford to waste talent, hinder initiative and growth, promote the undeserving and exclude anyone from contributing to our tiny country moving forward.
However, does it need to be that way? A survey conducted by the University of Malta about what people thought was most important in their lives found that it was not material gain, nor career progression, it was family and hope. People need to feel that there is something better over the horizon, not much of the same. They want to see greener pastures, not the arid landscape of déjà vu we are dished out every five years.
Is it possible? Why not? Despite our small size, Malta is blessed with a wealth of talent that remains untapped because everything spins on the merry-go-round of our two-party political system.
Recently I have met with dozens of people eager to contribute their expertise to the benefit of the nation. And yet, because by their very nature they are hardworking and honest, they do not want to be tarred with the current political brush.
What is needed is to get them and the general public to believe once again that politics and politicians are there to serve not to be served. They must believe that neither of the two parties care more about power than progress and that they are willing to share that power for the benefit of all. And when I say share power, I mean not only with other political parties, but with civil society, the NGOs, the unions.
If all were to contribute in a spirit of cooperation towards a common goal, it would be in everyone’s interest. We could work towards a genuinely inclusive society; a balanced economy where wealth is distributed in a just and fair manner; a less stressful and flexible education system; a proactive not reactive health service; a bold solution to our transport infrastructure not patchwork stop-gap ideas and, most importantly, true good governance. We could guarantee the preservation of what is left of our natural environment for future generations and work together to vastly improve the urban one and our well-being with it.
Yes, Malta does need a coalition, but not only of political parties in an attempt to stop the current government being re-elected. That will not work. Malta needs a coalition that offers something new, thinks outside the box, is willing to share power with all the stakeholders in our society. Is able to listen, learn, co-operate and compromise. It needs a coalition that embraces us all. Politicians or otherwise. It needs to inspire all sections of society to contribute something to our country.
It needs to offer that something intangible we all live in. It needs to be a coalition of hope.
Anthony Buttigieg is deputy leader of Partit Demokratiku.