Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Another Political Party in Malta?

Following last Saturday's EU Parliament elections, many people are debating the future of small parties such as Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) and Azzjoni Nazzjonali (AN). Compared to the 2004 elections, Norman Lowell's Imperium Europa did better this time round, but it still failed to garner enough votes to really make a difference to the way things are done in Malta or on a European level.

With reference to AD and to AN, I have never believed that such parties would go very far in Malta. First, when one is battling with two other parties that have their own newspapers, TV channels, and radio stations, it is incredibly hard to convey one's message to the electorate in the same way that is done by the two biggest local parties (i.e., the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party). Second, even though a party might be excellent at drawing popular attention to certain issues, if that party is not perceived as an organisation that is guided by a specific ideology, many people might not feel sufficiently attracted to it to give it the first preference during an election. Over the past few years, AD had frequently talked about a number of civil rights such as divorce, but the campaigning was not particularly strong and it is highly questionable that thousands of people would vote for AD because of one issue. No ideology, no road map, no vote. That is, I believe, the way many people think when it comes to small parties that only focus on particular issues without displaying the struggle for certain goals as a result of an ideological process.

Sadly, even though the European Parliament contains a group of parties that emphasise the importance of having an ideology, Malta has still not witnessed any organisations belonging to this group. More specifically, I am talking about the GUE/NGL group. The latter consists of a number of parties from various countries that strongly oppose the neoliberal economic model that has been embraced to different degrees by numerous European countries. The parties in this group believe in a different Europe. A more social Europe.

Many people could argue that as a member of the Party of European Socialists, the Labour Party could contribute to the construction of a more social Europe. I do believe that it is better to have a social-democratic party in power rather than a centre-right one such as the Nationalist Party, but the relatively poor performance exhibited by a number of other social-democratic parties in countries such as the UK and Spain could lead to one very important question: how can a party criticise the effects of capitalism and promise a different way of life without locking horns with the capitalist economic model?

Taking Malta as an example, both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party stress the need for the creation of more jobs. When the government is unable to create more jobs on its own (possibly because it has sold most of its assets to a number of individuals), it will attempt to lure foreign investors to our shores. The key question here is: why would that person or company decide to set up shop here in Malta? Is it because they are being promised lower taxes compared to other countries? Is it because the "new jobs" would offer ridiculously low salaries to the employees? These are just some of the questions that I ask myself when I listen to the rhetoric of several politicians.

Will Malta witness another political party? A party that could truly contribute to the construction of a more social Europe by implementing a number of genuinely social policies? Only time will tell...



Oraklu said...

how have you contributed personally to political campaiging and to get YOUR ideas across in Malta other than blogging!??

Red said...

Oraklu: Blogging is a very good and cost-effective way of spreading one's beliefs. Other ways of political campaigning are much more time-consuming and require considerable amounts of money. When other like-minded people will come together, it is my hope that there will be enough money to transmit the ideas mentioned here to a wider audience. :)

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