Saturday, 15 March 2008

Lessons Learned From the 2008 Election

Even though the PN failed to secure an absolute majority of the electorate's votes, the thousands of individuals who cherish leftist principles have to endure another five years of Gonzi PN. I cannot hide my disappointment about the fact that the MLP lost this election; I really believed that the latter was going to win.

During the past few days, I have been able to reflect a great deal about life in Malta, the trends exhibited by the Maltese electorate from one election to another, leadership issues...I must say that there were many lessons to be learned from this election.

One of the first - and probably most important - lessons that I learned is that Malta is still not ready for relatively small political parties. Throughout Malta's political history, a number of parties were formed, but none of them have ever remained active for a long time or managed to win a seat in Parliament. AD has been around for almost 20 years and even though they managed to obtain more than 3000 votes, this is still a far cry from the amount that is needed to be able to carry out substantial changes in the country. In this country, if one wants to take an active part in determining the country's future, I believe that one ought to join one of the big parties.

Whoever has been reading my posts over the last few months knows that I have often campaigned in favour of a political party that would start talking again about Socialism, just as Dom Mintoff and Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici used to do. I believe that one of Alfred Sant's worst faults was that he brushed the Socialist ideology to the side and focused too much on specific issues. When one focuses exclusively on issues, it becomes fairly easy for the other parties to steal ideas and to compete in such a way that makes it hard to identify which organisation is trying to promote which type of ideology. I would not be surprised to find many young MLP supporters who do not have a clear idea of what it means to be a Socialist. I strongly hope that whoever is elected as the new leader of the MLP is able to remind the Maltese electorate about the importance of being a Socialist when trying to build a more caring society rather than one revolving around the greed for profit.

Following the outcome of the March 2008 election, I no longer believe in campaigning for new parties. AN had contacts and truckloads of cash; in spite of having such resources at their disposal, they only managed to obtain a little over 1000 votes. If this happened to AN, just imagine the outcome for a small party with extremely limited financial resources and virtually no contacts!

I am not saying that new political parties should not be created. People should be free to establish new parties if they believe that such organisations can truly lead to a better country for everyone. I am merely saying that I am not interested in being a minor player in Malta's political field. I see little point in devoting countless hours and Euros to an organisation that will probably never be able to contribute substantially to improving the quality of life of the country's inhabitants.

This election has also taught me a great deal about the importance of democracy. At the end of the day, no matter how interesting a person's ideas are, it is essential to have a majority of the country's inhabitants approving of such ideas if they are to be implemented. Some people believe that ideas should be imposed on the members of society, but I believe that such efforts tend to backfire after a certain period of time. If most people do not agree with a number of proposals, these will never be implemented successfully and there will also be widespread unrest.

The March 2008 election has taught me a lot about the importance of persuasion. As we go along with our daily lives, we will all meet several people who disagree with us. This should not make anyone feel threatened. It is important to communicate reasonably and to attempt to persuade using peaceful techniques rather than aggressive ones. Forcing other people to agree with you through, say, fear will never bear long-term or succesful results.

This election has also taught me a great deal about the need for tolerance if we want to build a better country. I enjoyed the fact that there was virtually no violence when the electoral result was announced. When I write about tolerance, I am not only referring to tolerating individuals who belong to a different political party; I am also taking into consideration intra-party tolerance.

Sadly, during the past few days, I have heard many people say very nasty things about some other individuals who belong to the same political party. I find this totally absurd! At the end of the day, we are all highly fallable, flesh-and-blood human beings; it is ludicrous to expect any person to never make any mistakes! Whether the mistakes were committed by a party leader or any other individual within the party's administration, I believe that the most important thing is to identify those mistakes and to devise a plan to avoid repeating them. This should not be a punishing process; it should be an enlightening journey aimed at improving the person and the party to which he/she belongs.

Whilst acknowledging the fact that every political party represents a general set of beliefs, I disagree that any constructive criticism within the party should be stifled. As human beings, we are always searching for new ways and techniques to improve our lives; innovation should, therefore, not be discouraged.

When focusing on a specific political party, I believe that all its supporters should be considered as useful. Every person can offer something to the party and to the country. Hence, NOBODY should be ostracised. A party should act like a caring family. Elitist or intolerant attitudes should be avoided at all costs.

This election has changed me very much. I am still a Socialist because I still believe that Socialism is the best tool to build a much better world for everyone. When it comes to certain issues, I might have been misled in the past by certain things that I read, but the undeniable reality of an election's outcome is more than enough to encourage a person to change one's thoughts about many matters. At this stage, my biggest hope is that during the next 5 years, the MLP will act as a Socialist organisation. The MLP must be able to show the Maltese electorate how different its vision is from that of the PN. It must avoid scaring people. Most importantly, it must persuade this country's inhabitants that every person is extremely important in order to create a better world.



GleGer said...

I don't think that in the next five years, the MLP are going to get nearer to Socialism. In fact, I believe that the new Labour leader, will be nearer to the center of the political spectrum, because I don't have a doubt that the new leader is going to try and persuade the 'floating voters'rather than the hardcore labourites.

The MLP was never a true Socialist party, not even under Dom Mintoff. And that is why I don't find my ideology in the MLP.

I agree with you that the small parties can't do anything here in Malta. But my principles are my principles, and I'm not going to moderate/change my principles to agree with any party.

Red said...

I agree that principles are important because they have to guide our actions. Having said that, it is essential to examine one's beliefs every now and again to determine whether there are any ideas that need to be revised or even discarded. I am no supporter of dogmatic thinking.

I do believe that there was a time when the MLP exhibited a socialist nature. In future, I will even quote from an MLP booklet which I have here at home; it was published in 1976, but it clearly explains the MLP's ideological stance. Nowadays, such discourse has virtually disappeared from the MLP's publications, which makes many people wonder what gains there are when identifying with the MLP.

The MLP's administration needs to take a good look at itself so that it can relaunch itself as a socialist party. As a party, there is no other organisation in Malta (except for the PN) that has the resources that the MLP has to reach thousands of people. Smaller parties might address certain issues differently, but as long as they are so limited when it comes to their resources, they will continue to appear as drops in the ocean.

I assure you that there are still many people within the MLP who believe in the socialist cause!