A gambit declined

 

The setting up of a pre-electoral alliance is a complex exercise. Alternattiva Demokratika recognised the strategic importance of forming pre-electoral alliances a long time ago – in fact, prior to the 2008 general election, it had (unsuccessfully) taken up such an initiative itself.

The actual result of the 2008 general election was so close that any pre-election alliance would have had a substantial impact on the final result. This was very clear in the polls commissioned and published in the run-up to that general election.  The difference in votes on a national level between the PN and the PL in the March 2008 general election was a mere 1580, with AD receiving 3810 votes first count votes.

When examining the possibility of forging a pre-election alliance there is generally a choice between two approaches to take: either a principle-based approach or a pragmatic one.

The principle-based approach for a pre-election alliance seeks a long-term view based on building bridges that can possibly withstand the test of time. A pre-election alliance based on principles is based on an agreed shared vision. Even if it is not all-encompassing, this can be easier for voters to identify with as it entails a positive proposal: the shared vision.

On the other hand, the pragmatic approach is one aimed solely at the desired result. It is arithmetically driven. It can signify the lumping together under one umbrella of all sorts of views with (possibly) a minimum common denominator.

The National Front pre-electoral alliance set up by Simon Busuttil and Marlene Farrugia  was, in my opinion, one of the latter. Not only did it include the Nationalist Party and the Democratic Party but also the fringe elements of the PN itself, which had previously been weeded out over the years as undesirables.

The National Front was a pragmatic exercise to the extent that an analysis of the actual votes cast clearly shows that the PD link with the PN resulted in no votes being added to the PN by the PD.  Some may argue, for example,  that votes cast for PD candidates in the fifth district (Marlene Farrugia’s home district),  helped the PN turning the tides on Labour by recapturing Labour’s fourth seat. This is not so, as the gain of an additional seat by the PN on the fifth district was exclusively due to boundary changes: the village of Marsaxlokk having been moved to the third district and it being substituted by the hamlet of Ħal-Farruġ from the sixth district.

The PN/PD alliance failed in its major arithmetic objective as it is clear that it failed to attract a significant number of disgruntled voters. Actually, it rather repelled them with its continuous negative messages and sent most of them back to Labour. Unfortunately, this failed attempt will dissuade any other attempt at alliance-building in the immediate future, as no political party enjoys being taken for a ride, as was Simon Busuttil’s party.

Declining the invitation to join  the National Front as an appendix to the PN  was the correct response from Alternattiva Demokratika. It was an exercise in foresight that has been proved right. Listening to “independent” journalists and self-centred intellectuals advocating the Busuttil/Farrugia National Front was a very sad experience, as these were the same people who should have taken the PN itself to task for its internal contradictions on issues of good governance. By endorsing the PN-led National Front, unfortunately, they ended up endorsing the PN’s misdemeanours when they should have been at the forefront of those insisting that the PN clean up its act before claiming any right to wear the suit of shining armour.

In another context, it was former PN Finance Minister Tonio Fenech who made the most appropriate statement earlier this week in the Malta Independent. Answering his own rhetorical question as to what the Nationalist Party stands for, Tonio Fenech replied: “The only true answer I can give is, I don’t know”.

And so say all of us.

published in the Malta Independent on Sunday – 18 June 2017

M’għandekx għalfejn tagħżel bejniethom

 

 

Meta tiġi biex tivvota, nhar is-Sibt, mgħandekx għalfejn tagħżel bejniethom.

Mhux importanti min hu l-iżjed jew l-inqas korrott.

Mhux importanti min hu l-iżjed jew l-inqas inkompetenti.

Mhux importanti min hu imċappas l-iktar jew l-inqas.

Mhux importanti min kellu jirreżenja, imma ma rreżenjax fuq iżżewġ naħat.

 

Il-każ tal-Panama Papers u l-kumpaniji ta Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri hu wieħed ta gravitá kbira. Daqskemm huma gravi l-allegazzjonijiet dwar is-sid ta Egrant Inc. u l-flus li waslu mingħand il-familja ta Aliyev fil-kontijiet fil-Bank Pilatus.

Mhux gravi ħafna ukoll il-fatt li Claudio Grech, l-Onorevoli tal-Partit Nazzjonalista nesa jekk qattx iltaqa ma George Farrugia, dak tal-iskandlu tażżejt?

Mhux gravi ukoll kif Beppe Fenech Adami spiċċa Direttur tal-Capital One Investment Limited u ma kien jaf xejn dwar it-taħwid li qed jirriżulta dwar din l-istess kumpanija?

U xi ngħidu għar-rapporti tal-Awditur Ġenerali dwar il-qaddis miexi fl-art Jason Azzopardi?

U l-villa ODZ li Toni Bezzina ried jibni fl-istess ħin li kien qed jikteb il-politika ambjentali tal-PN?

It-tnejn jgħidu kif għandhom qalbhom ġunġliena għall-ambjent.

Imma t-tnejn iridu l-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex.

It-tnejn iridu l-korsa tat-tlielaq tal-karozzi.

It-tnejn jilgħaqu l-kaċċaturi u n-nassaba.

It-tnejn jappoġġaw il-boathouses tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa (Armier, Little Armier u Torri l-Abjad).

Xhemm xtagħżel bejniethom?

Wara kollox mgħandekx għalfejn tagħżel bejniethom!

Vot lill-Alternattiva Demokratika : kontra x-xewqa tal-bulijiet

 

 

Mela skond in-Nazzjonalisti, vot għal Alternattiva Demokratika hu vot għall-Labour. Diska antika ħafna din, li smajniha fil-kampanja elettorali tal-2008 ukoll.

Issa jidher li tħajjar il-Partit Laburista ukoll. Għax il-bieraħ, fl-Imqabba Joseph qalilhom li  vot għal Alternattiva Demokratika hu vot għall-PN. [Il-kliem eżatt kien li vot għal xi partit li mhux il-Partit Laburista hu vot għal Simon Busuttil.] 

Qiesu qed jgħidulna li vot għal Alternattiva Demokratika hu three in one.

Issa għiduli inthom kif jista jkun li vot għal Alternattiva Demokratika jkun vot għall-PN u l-PL fl-istess elezzjoni?

Imma dawn bħalissa qed jagħmluha tal-bullijiet jippruvaw jintimidaw għax it-tnejn għandhom l-għatx.

Qatt daqs illum ma kienet għażla daqshekk ċara u bsaħħitha, vot għal-Alternattiva Demokratika. Vot favur l-indafa u kontra l-korruzzjoni.

Vot Alternattiv, vot nadif.  

Green and Clean: Parliament’s role

The general election is being over-shadowed by a web of corruption spun around the Office of the Prime Minister. It has been unravelling for months since the publication of the Panama Papers.

Months of debate has highlighted the need for Parliament to reclaim the authority which, over the years, it has ceded to government. All institutions require continuous Parliamentary oversight: even the civil service needs to be properly monitored by Parliament.

The PN are proposing labour-proof institutions. In reality the institutions need to be PN-proof as well – as both major political parties have had exclusive control of institutions over the years, bending them to their will.

The current mess is the direct result of a two-party system that spread its tentacles through the institutions creating empires with the specific aim of buttressing those in power and protecting them in their time of need. It is a two-party system which, over a 50-year period, has developed a winner takes all mentality, as a result of which only those aligned to the winner are deemed to be able to contribute to the well-being and development of the country. The rest, with few exceptions, have been repeatedly excluded, and it is Malta which, ultimately has lost the utilisation of substantial talent.

This is the background to Alternattiva Demokratika’s electoral manifesto. Entitled Vote Green – Vote clean, without ignoring other important issues, it focuses on matters of governance in addition to its core environmental proposals.

We have plenty of good laws. The problem is that, many times, the pool of talent from which those who implement such laws are selected is generally limited to those carrying the party card. Successive governments have often preferred the politically loyal to the technically and ethically competent. This has been possible due to the fact that Parliament has abdicated its responsibilities and assigned them to the government.

Parliament should reclaim the authority ceded to government to appoint authorities and it should proceed to screen those nominated through a public hearing by a Parliamentary Committee on the lines practised by the Senate of the United States of America. This screening by Parliament should  be applicable first and foremost to all constitutional authorities, as well as to all authorities set up in terms of law. Likewise, the appointment of Commissioner of Police, the Head of the Armed Forces, the Governor of the Central Bank,  the Head of the Civil Service and ambassadors, as well as all civil service grades from Director up to Permanent Secretary,   should be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.

In addition to ensuring a more serious selection process, this would serve as a safety valve protecting the civil service itself from abusive action on the part of an incoming government as happened in 2013, when the Head of the Civil Service and practically all Permanent Secretaries were removed in the first minutes of a new Labour government.

The recruitment of people of trust on a large scale during the past 4 years has further politicised the civil service. It is a practice that has been on the increase even before March 2013. The engagement of people of trust throughout the wider public service was used as a stratagem to avoid the scrutiny of the Public Service Commission, a constitutional body established specifically to ensure a fair recruitment process. This should cease forthwith, with the engagement of people of trust being limited to the private secretariats of holders of political office.

The Standards in Public Life Act, which ironically was supported by both the PN and the PL, was approved by Parliament shortly before dissolution. It provisions were therefore not implemented. In particular, the appointment of a Commissioner for Standards in Public Life – to be tasked with investigating the behaviour of MPs – has not yet materialised and will have to be addressed by the new Parliament elected on 3 June.

Lobbying is not yet regulated. In fact, its regulation has been postponed as no agreement was reached between the PN and the PL about possible lobbying regulations.

AD considers that the next Parliament will have to address head-on whether Members of Parliament should be full-timers, thus severing all links with profession and/or employment and, as a result, substantially reducing instances of conflict of interest faced by Members of Parliament.

Parliament can, in the next few weeks, assume a central role in re-building the country’s institutions. It is the only way forward to ensure that ethical behaviour in public life is the norm, rather than the exception.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 21 May 2017

Stephen Calleja : canvassing the PN

 

 

In todays editors blog, in the Malta Independent, Stephen Calleja deemed it fit to write a blogpost entitled A vote for AD is a vote for Labour.

A vote for AD is a vote cast in favour of ADs principles. As things stand it is also a vote against both the PL and the PN.

Has Mr Calleja ever considered what a vote for the PN means?

Stephen Calleja has every right to canvass the PN. I do not seek to deny him such a basic right. When exercising such a right he may consider it superfluous to inquire about the Hon. Claudio Grechs statement that he did not recollect ever meeting George Farrugia, of oil scandal fame. Searching for reasonable explanations and possibly the underlying truth does not seem to bother Mr Calleja the journalist.

He could also inquire deeper into the Capital One Investments Limited and maybe bother to ask whether as a minimum, the Hon Beppe Fenech Adamis judgement in accepting a directorship of the Company was a grave error of judgement.   

Mr Calleja could examine Mario de Marcos legal assistance to the db Group while Deputy Leader  for Parliamentary Affairs of the PN Parlimentary Group. In so doing he may recollect that Dr de Marco had stated that he had sought Dr Simon Busuttils second opinion on whether he should take up the brief with Dr Busuttil not finding any difficulty at all.

Of course, any inquisitive journalist would go one step further and seek an explanation as to what the term conflict of interest means. A Member of Parliaments duty on all sides of the House essentially entails holding the government to account. This definitely includes scrutinising the executives actions in negotiations relative to the transfer of property in public ownership.

When any Member of Parliament does not understand the above, it is serious enough. But having both the Leader of the Opposition and his Deputy without any clue on the matter, certainly says quite a lot about the ethical standards of the Opposition. If these are the ethical standards of the next government I do not think that there will be any change at the helm. It will be simply more of the same.

I could go on and on. I have limited myself to the PNs compromised leadership, as currently it is the most effective canvasser of the Labour Party.

Mr Calleja has every right to ignore all this when he canvasses the PN, but then doesnt that say a lot about his standards and values?

One final point. AD held exploratory talks with the PN during which talks, the above and more were referred to.  The proposals made by AD were aimed to create a functioning coalition which would not be burdened by the accumulated sins of the PN. That no progress was made is certainly not ADs fault. Given the right conditions, AD was willing to participate in a coalition but it never accepted to be tagged as anybodys appendage.

Ghost towns in the Maltese Islands

The last Census, carried out in 2011 – with results published in late 2014 – revealed that in the Maltese islands only 68.2 per cent of residential property is regularly occupied. The rest is either vacant (18.4 per cent) or else used seasonally or for some secondary use (13.3 per cent).

If we focus on the regional data, the situation is much clearer. The rate of occupied residential property varies – from 79.5 per cent in the Western Region (between Dingli, Siġġiewi and Balzan) to 46.4 per cent in the Gozo and Comino Region. Table 1 gives the full data. Property that is completely vacant varies from a rate of 16 per cent in the Northern Region (between Naxxar and Mellieħa) to 23.9 per cent in Gozo and Comino as shown it Table 2. Finally, property which is used seasonally or for some secondary use varies from an insignificant three per cent in the Southern Harbour Region (Valletta to Xgħajra, up to Paola and Luqa] to a staggering 29.7 per cent in Gozo, with the Northern Region (between Naxxar and Mellieħa) with a 25.9 per cent rate being a close second as shown in Table 3. This data has been extracted from the 2011 Census Final Report pages 221 and 222.

This amounts to more ten times the size of residential Birkirkara, meaning that the vacant or underutilised properties in Malta and Gozo at this time are equivalent to 10 ghost towns – each of which is equivalent to Birkirkara, the largest locality in the Maltese Islands. This represents a substantial waste of public funds. As a minimum it means that funds spent on the development of the infrastructure (roads, electricity, water, drainage and telecommunications) for these 10 ghost towns went down the drain and could have been mostly avoided.

While all this built-up residential property is vacant or under-utilised, the building industry keeps building more – thereby adding to the glut. They call this progress and a significant contribution to the economy. Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green Party and the environment lobby in Malta has been vociferous about this over-development of the Maltese Islands. This state of affairs has been worsening, with neither the Labour Party nor the Nationalist Party giving a fig about the consequences.

Instead of addressing the issue, the PN government increased the size of the development zone through the addition of the so-called “rationalisation” exercise. On the other hand, the Labour Party has, during the past four years, encouraged more development.

Last March I had the opportunity to represent a number of Mosta residents in opposing the scheming of a large tract of land at Tad-Durumblat, Mosta. This concerned 38,600 square metres of land which formed part of the rationalisation exercise piloted in 2006 by a PN-led government. Mosta has a sizable vacant and under-utilised residential area consisting of 19.4 per cent of the housing stock as in November 2011. The Executive Council of the Planning Authority accepted my arguments and rejected the relative planning control application, thereby saving – at least temporarily – this large tract of land from the greedy forces of development.

Faced with this situation, AD considers that the number of vacant properties in any locality should be an important criterion in determining whether development applications for larger areas are approved or not. This should also apply to the large tracts of land forming part of the rationalisation exercise, in respect of which the determination of the applicable scheme should not be decided if the number of vacant properties is substantial.

It is about time that this situation is addressed and for this purpose, AD’s election manifesto is making this specific proposal: in those localities where the number of vacant properties is substantial, large-scale residential projects will not be permitted.

This would be a good first step in addressing Malta’s ghost towns, ensuring that their enlargement is restrained and thereby applying a significant brake to over-development in the Maltese Islands.

 published in The Malta Independent on Sunday, 14 May 2017

 

Region No. per cent
Southern Harbour 29,107 75.9
Northern Harbour 46,181 72.9
South Eastern 22,279 71.6
Western 19,584 79.5
Northern 23,989 58.1
Gozo and Comino 11,630 46.4

Table 1: Occupied property by Region 

 

Region No. per cent
Southern Harbour 1,113   3
Northern Harbour 6,650 10.5
South Eastern 3,294 10.6
Western 6,33  2.6
Northern 10,692 25.9
Gozo and Comino 7,444 29.7

Table 2: Property used seasonally or for secondary use by Region

 

Region No. per cent
Southern Harbour 8,126 21.2
Northern Harbour 10,556 16.7
South Eastern 5,552 17.8
Western 4,420 17.9
Northern 6,582 16.0
Gozo and Comino 5,996 23.9

 Table 3: Vacant Property by Region

Fuq il-polza tal-vot : il-Forza Nazzjonali ma teżistix


Xi uħud għandhom bl-illużjoni li hawn xi Forza Nazzjonali u spiss jiktbu li għad hemm ċans li wieħed jingħaqad ma din il-forza.

Meta il-Kummissjoni Elettorali, illum, tibda tilqa n-nominazzjonijiet forsi tindunaw li ma hu ser ikun hemm l-ebda nomina fisem xi Forza Nazzjonali. Sempliċiment għax din ma teżistix. In-nomini ser ikunu fisem il-Partit Nazzjonalista, l-Partit Laburista, l-Alternattiva Demokratika, possibilment xi partiti żgħar oħra u xi kandidati indipendenti.

Għax fir-realtá ma teżisti l-ebda koalizzjoni imma lista elettorali tal-PN li fiha kandidati li mhumiex membri tal-PN u ċjoe membri tal-Partit Demokratiku.

Dan seħħ għax uħud, inkluż min jippretendi li jifhem ħafna, għaġġlu u bhekk ma tawx ċans li tkun żviluppata koalizzjoni vera.

Alternattiva Demokratika dejjem riedet tipparteċipa fkoalizzjoni, immaterjalment minn din xi tkun tissejjaħ, imma koalizzjoni ma hawnx.

Ma nkunx ġust jekk nittimbra lil min qed jaqbel mal-PN li hu opportunist, għax ma naħsibx li huma. Imma jibqa l-fatt li mhumiex jirrealizzaw il-konsegwenzi gravi ta dak li għamlu.

Fdan il-mument kritiku kien ikun tajjeb kieku ġiet iffurmata koalizzjoni, imma koalizzjoni mhawnx u issa dan mhuwiex iktar possibli.

Dan hu ħasra għax it-triq li qabad il-PN mhiex fl-interess nazzjonali. Il-lingwaġġ użat fil-kampanja elettorali sissa hu qalil u ser ikompli jkattar il-mibgħeda. Fl-aħħar min qed jikkontribwixxi għal din il-mibgħeda irid jerfa r-responsabbiltá sħiħa.

Xser jiġri fl-aħħar ma nafx. Naf biss ħaġa waħda: li fuq il-polza tal-vot mhu ser ikun hemm l-ebda Forza Nazzjonali!   

Reflecting political diversity

 

 

On Friday afternoon, delegations from Alternattiva Demokratika and Partit Nazzjonalista met to discuss whether – and if so to what extent – it would be possible to forge a pre-electoral alliance between the two political parties in view of the forthcoming general election.

Earlier in the day, the PN delegation had briefed the press on the approval by the PN Executive Committee on Thursday of an agreement between the PN and the Democratic Party of Marlene Farrugia.

AD has always been in favour of building a pre-electoral alliance. Such an alliance is necessitated by a weakness in one or more of the major political players, in this case the PN. The state of play of the electoral rules lead to the need of a pre-electoral alliance but so far, however, this is unchartered territory.

AD has criticised the PN in the past, and will continue to criticise it whenever it considers such criticism necessary.  The PN has been criticised by AD for its performance in office as well as for the discrepancies between what it declares as its beliefs and how it then subsequently acts. Such criticism does not exclude the possibility of cooperating with the PN and the possibility of considering the forging of an electoral alliance, provided the right conditions are created.

AD has criticised the PN for not properly handling its MPs.

Claudio Grechs declaration that he did not recollect ever meeting George Farrugia of oil corruption fame is incredulous: yet Simon Busuttil did not take him to task publicly on the matter. It was necessary, but he did not do it. As a result, Simon Busuttil gave the clear message that he is weak when dealing with his MPs when they are evasive. This is not acceptable.

Nor was Beppe Fenech Adami chastised for his error of judgement in relation to the directorship  of Capital One Ltd: he should not be immune to disciplinary action.

Mario Demarcos db consultancy ended up one notch higher, with an apology – a rare event in Maltese politics.  But Simon Busuttils role in the fake invoice debacle is still pending and he must come to terms with the facts at the earliest possible opportunity.

Toni Bezzinas ODZ experiences, whilst pontificating on the merits of environmental protection, were also swept under the carpet by Simon Busuttil.

AD would have preferred to deal with a PN which does not come with this baggage, but everyone knows that this is not possible. To exacerbate matters, the Labour Party – the alternative – is much worse.

The Labour Party is in absolute shambles. This fact should not lead to the erasure or absolution of the PNs misdemeanours: they are, and will remain, on the books, acting as a constant reminder of what should be avoided. But certainly they should never be forgotten. This is part of the baggage that the PN will bring to a pre-electoral alliance.

When considering the setting up of a pre-electoral alliance, one must understand that the result will be much more than the summing up of the individual parts. It should certainly denote a change in attitude and philosophy and should be accompanied by an appropriate name that reflects the new direction planned.   

The selection of an appropriate name for the pre-electoral alliance is of paramount importance as it is the first indicator of a willingness to change. In addition, it has to be a true reflection of the political diversity in the DNA of the proposed alliance. It is only with clear signs of the will to change that voters will consider supporting the alliance.

Agreement on the general political principles that should guide the alliance is encouraging. These are primarily institutional and governance issues but also matters of basic environmental concern and governance.

At Fridays meeting AD presented the PN with a detailed and specific proposal that set the tone of the discussion.  

The identified stumbling block was the name of the proposed pre-electoral alliance. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party of Marlene Farrugia – most probably due to the inexperience of those advising her – did not realise the significance of the matter. She did not realise that accepting the PN as the alliance to which the Democratic Party was to be appended, was a very wrong signal.

The name should reflect the nature of the alliance: an umbrella organisation of separate and independent political parties cooperating in the political project of reconstructing Maltas shattered institutions.  One thing should, however, be clear to everyone: AD will not be an appendage in the proposed alliance. AD will be an active and critical partner and not a subservient appendage.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 30 April 2017

 

Nibnu l-pontijiet ………. imma fuq pedamenti addattati

 

Kif ħabbar il-Malta Today dal-għodu, l-Partit Nazzjonalista talab biex jiltaqa ma’ Alternattiva Demokratika bl-iskop li jkun identifikat jekk hux possibli li jkun hemm xi forma ta kooperazzjoni bejn iżżewġ partiti, u dan fid-dawl tal-qagħda politika preżenti.

Qatt mhu ħażin li titkellem, anke jekk ma daqqa tgħajn jidhru li hemm differenzi mhux żgħar.

Kif anke ġie kkwotat Mario de Marco mill-Malta Today, il-kooperazzjoni li jrid il-PN hi dwar il-lista elettorali! Il-PN diġa kważi wasal għal ftehim mal-Partit Demokratiku ta Marlene Farrugia biex possibilment il-kandidati ta dak il-partit jdhru fil-lista elettorali taħt l-isem tal-Partit Nazzjonalista. Il-PN u l-PD, dan l-eżerċizzju qed isejħulu koalizzjoni.

Fil-fehma tiegħi dan hu kollox barra koalizzjoni.

Alternattiva Demokratika sejra għal-laqgħa mal-PN bmoħħ miftuħ, bla preġudizzji imma bideat ċari kif diġa kelli l-opportunita li nispjega fuq dan il-blog matul il-ġimgħat li għaddew.

Il-bierah, tard fil-għaxija, fdiskussjoni fuq  it-telefon li kelli ma Karol Aquilina, President tal-Kunsill Amministrattv, Mario de Marco Viċi Kap tal-PN u Simon Busuttil innifsu, ftehmna li l-laqgħa esploratorja bejn l-AD u l-PN issir nhar il-Ġimgħa li ġejja.

Ta Alternattiva Demokratika sejrin għal din il-laqgħa brieda tajba, lesti li nagħtu l-kontribut tagħna biex jinbnew il-pontijiet. Imma l-ewwel irridu naċċertaw ruħna li l-pedamenti huma addattati.

Coalition building: beyond the arithmetic

It is pretty obvious that the primary – and possibly the only – objective that the Nationalist Party seeks to attain through its proposed coalition is to numerically surpass the Labour Party when the first count votes are tallied after  the forthcoming general election. Should this materialise, it could be a stepping stone on the basis of which, possibly, it could return to office on its own or in coalition.

The rest, that is to say beyond the first count vote tally, is all a necessary evil for the PN.

In contrast, Alternattiva Demokratikas objectives go beyond arithmetic. Alternattiva Demokratika favours a principle-based coalition, ethically driven,  in conscious preference to a pragmatic-based one that is driven exclusively by arithmetic considerations.

A principle-based coalition asks questions and demands answers continuously. The path to be followed to elect the first Green MPs is just as important as the objective itself. This is not simply  a minor inconsequential detail: it is a fundamental difference in approach.

Alternattiva Demokratika is continuously being tempted to discard its principled approach on the basis of a possible satisfactory result being within reach: now is the time, we are told, to join Simon Busuttils coalition in the national interest.  

Alternattiva Demokratika has always given way to the national interest. It is definitely in the national interest to discard (at the earliest possible opportunity) the two-party system that is the cause of the current political mess. In this context, at AD we do not view the PN (or the PL for that matter) as a solution. Both are an intrinsic part of the problem. Even if they are not exactly equivalent, together they are the problem. Parliament has been under the control of the two-party system  without interruption for the past 52 years. This is ultimately responsible for the current state of affairs as, due to its composition, Parliament has been repeatedly unable to hold the government of the day to account.

It is the worst kind of political dishonesty to pretend that the PN is whiter than white when criticising the Labour Partys gross excesses during the past four years. Labour has been capable of creating the current mess because the last PN-led government left behind quasi-toothless institutions, such that, when push came to shove, these institutions were incapable of biting back against abuse in defence of Maltese society: so much for the PNs commitment to good governance.

The PN is also  still haunted by its own gross excesses including:

1) Claudio Grechs incredible declaration on the witness stand in Parliaments Public Accounts Committee that he did not recollect ever meeting George Farrugia during the development of the oil sales scandal, George Farrugia being the mastermind  behind it all.   

2) Beppe Fenech Adamis role in the nominee company behind the Capital One Investment Group/Baltimore Fiduciary Services . In quasi similar circumstances, former Labour Party Treasurer Joe Cordina was forced to resign and was withdrawn as a general election candidate.

3) Mario DeMarcos error of judgement (with Simon Busuttils blessing) in accepting the brief of Silvio Debonos db Group in relation to the provision of advisory legal services on the Groups acquisition from Government of land at Pembroke, currently the site of the Institute for Tourism Studies, and this when his duty a Member of Parliament was to subject the deal to the minutest scrutiny and thereby hold government to account.

4) Toni Bezzinas application for a proposed ODZ Villa at the same time that, together with others, he was drafting an environment policy document on behalf of the PN in which document he proposed that this should henceforth  be prohibited.

5) Simon Busuttils alleged attempt to camouflage political donations as payment for fictitious services by his partys commercial arm, thereby circumventing the Financing of Political Parties Act.

How can the Nationalist Party be credible by declaring itself as the rallying point in favour of good governance and against corruption when it took no serious action to clean up its own ranks? Apologies are a good start but certainly not enough: heads must roll.

A coalition with a PN that closes more than one eye to the above is bound to fail, as the behaviour of the PN and its leadership is clearly and consistently diametrically opposed to its sanctimonious declarations.

These are very serious matters: they need to be suitably and satisfactorily addressed as a pre-condition to the commencement of any coalition talks.  Time is running out and this is being stated even before one proceeds to identify and spell out the red lines – ie the issues that are non-negotiable.

Addressing the arithmetic issues concerning the general election and then ending up with a new government with such an ambivalent attitude to good governance would mean that we are back to the point from which we started.    Nobody in his right mind would want that and Alternattiva Demokratika would certainly not support such double speak.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 16 April 2017