Il-futur ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

It-tnaqqis tal-voti li Alternattiva Demokratika kisbet fl-elezzjoni ġenerali ta’ tmiem il-ġimgħa l-oħra minn 1.8% għal 0.83% tal-voti totali kienet bla dubju daqqa kbira. Imma kienet daqqa antiċipata u direttament marbut mar-rifjut ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika li tipparteċipa fil-Front Nazzjonali mmexxi mill-Partit Nazzjonalista.

Mhux l-ewwel darba li Alternattiva Demokratika qalgħet dawn id-daqqiet. Ħarsu, per eżempju, lejn l-elezzjoni ġenerali tal-2003. Dakinnhar, id-daqqa kienet ikbar, għax il-vot mixħut favur Alternattiva Demokratika kien niżel sal-livell ta’ 0.69% tal-voti totali, l-agħar riżultat fit-28 sena storja ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika. Imma fi żmien sena dan reġa’ tela għal 9.33% tal-vot popolari fl-elezzjonijiet tal-2004 għall-Parlament Ewropew.

Tul is-snin Alternattiva Demokratika qatt ma organizzat ruħha fuq livell lokali jew reġjonali. Dan minħabba nuqqas ta’ voluntiera imma ukoll minħabba allerġija tat-tmexxija għal kull xorta ta’ burokrazija (anke dik l-iktar minima) kif ukoll minħabba l-profil tal-votant tipiku ta’ AD. Dan hu difett f’Alternattiva Demokratika li ilu preżenti sa minn meta twaqqfet liema difett qatt ma ngħata l-attenzjoni mistħoqqha.

Fil-fehma tiegħi, dan hu l-kawża ewlenija għan-nuqqas ta’ kapaċitá ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika li tilqa’ għall-attakki diretti mmirati lejn il-votanti tagħha. Hi ukoll ir-raġuni għala AD ma rnexxieliex, tul is-snin, tapprofitta ruħha daqstant miċ-ċaqlieq ta’ votanti minn partit għall-ieħor.

Huwa tajjeb li jkollok prinċipji soddi, imma n-nuqqas ta’ presenza kontinwa u organizzata fil-lokalitajiet inaqqas l-interazzjoni mal-elettorat, liema interazzjoni teħtieġ li tkun waħda kontinwa biex tkun effettiva. Dan fisser li waqt li AD setgħet tieħu d-deċiżjoni politika dwar l-involviment jew le f’allejanza pre-elettorali ma kelliex il-kapaċitá organizzattiva biex tilqa’ għall-konsegwenzi.

Tajjeb li l-qarrej jiftakar li Alternattiva Demokratika kienet taqbel li titwaqqaf allejanza pre-elettorali wiesa’ kontra l-korruzzjoni u favur il-governanza tajba. Il-punt ta’ nuqqas ta’ qbil mal-proposta tal-PN kien li fil-fehma ta’ AD l-allejanza proposta kellha tkun distinta mil-partiti politiċi individwali li jiffurmawha. F’Alternattiva Demokratika konna inkwetati li l-proposta tal-PN biex AD tissieħeb mal-istess PN billi tifforma parti mill-istess lista elettorali inevitabilment kienet ser twassal għal diversi sitwazzjonijiet li ma kienux aċċettabbli: bħal posizzjonijiet dwar proposti politiċi inaċċettabbli kif ukoll il-presenza ta’ kandidati mhux aċċettabbli. Ir-riskju kien kbir wisq u ma konniex disposti li noħduh.

Sfortunatament iż-żmien tana raġun. Dan seħħ, per eżempju, meta l-PN approva li jippreżenta lill-kandidat omofobiku Josie Muscat. Seħħ ukoll bid-dikjarazzjonijiet politiċi kemm ta’ Marlene Farrugia kif ukoll ta’ Simon Busuttil favur il-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa kif ukoll favur l-insib. Seħħ ukoll bil-posizzjonijiet kontradittorji dwar iċ-ċirkwit tat-tlielaq tal-karozzi kif ukoll bl-emfasi ta’ Simon Busuttil dwar il-mina proposta li tgħaqqad Malta u Għawdex. Posizzjonijiet politiċi li huma kollha inaċċettabbli għal Alternattiva Demokratika.

B’żieda ma dan, il-PN, naqas milli jindirizza l-kontradizzjonijiet interni fi ħadnu dwar il-governanza tajba. Dawn jinkludu n-nuqqas ta’ Claudio Grech li jiftakar x’laqgħat kellu ma George Farrugia dwar l-iskandlu taż-żejt, il-kaz ta’ Beppe Fenech Adami dwar in-nuqqas ta’ deċiżjoni għaqlija meta aċċetta li jkun direttur tal-kumpanija Capital One Investments Limited, il-kunflitt ta’ interess ta’ Mario de Marco dwar il-grupp kummerċjali db kif ukoll it-taħwida ta’ Simon Busuttil innifsu dwar l-invoices tal-grupp db u l-assoċjazzjoni tagħhom mal-iffinianzjar tal-PN innifsu.

Dan kollu, safejn hu magħruf, ma kellu l-ebda importanza għall-Partit Demokratiku imma għal Alternattiva Demokratika kien kollu ostaklu għall-formazzjoni ta’ alleanza pre-elettorali għax kien imur b’mod sfaċċat kontra l-proposti elettorali favur tmexxija tajba. Dawn il-materji semmejnihom waqt il-laqgħa esploratorja li kellna mal-PN imma id-delegazzjoni tal-PN ma wriet l-ebda interess: tbissmet u injorathom. Meta jkun meqjus dan kollu, id-deċiżjoni ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika li ma tissieħibx fil-Front Nazzjonali mmexxi mill-PN kienet waħda tajba u dan għax, kif spjegat iktar il-fuq, kienet toħloq bosta diffikultajiet u kontradizzjonijiet.

Matul ix-xhur li ġejjin nittama li jkun hemm it-tibdil meħtieg f’Alternattiva Demokratika biex din tiġġedded u tissaħħah. Huwa tibdil meħtieġ biex AD tkun iktar effettiva u tkun kapaċi tikkomunika mal-votanti aħjar is-sena kollha, u dan minkejja l-limitazzjoni li għandha ta’ riżorsi.

Ippubblikat minn Illum : il-Ħadd 11 ta’ Ġunju 2017

AD’s future

The reduction of Alternattiva Demokratika’s share of the national vote from 1.8 per cent  to 0.83 per cent was a heavy blow. It was, however, anticipated and was directly linked to AD not accepting to form part of the PN-led National Front.

Alternattiva Demokratika has been there before, its share of the national vote having dipped in the past – particularly during the 2003 general election. On that occasion it went down further than this year’s performance and reached 0.69 per cent, the lowest point ever in AD’s 28-year history – only to rebound with a vengeance to win a staggering 9.33 per cent of the popular vote in the 2004 European Parliament elections, just 12 months later.

Over the years, AD has refrained from extending its organisational arm at a regional and possibly local level. This was primarily dictated by the numbers of available volunteers but also by an in-built allergy to anything deemed even minimally bureaucratic, as well as by the volatile profile of the typical AD voter. This is AD’s major weakness: it has been ever-present since the party’s foundation and has never been adequately addressed.

This weakness, is in my view, the major cause of AD’s inability (to date) to successfully withstand or substantially mitigate frontal attacks on its voter base. Likewise, it is the reason why AD has not been able to tap adequately and successfully into voter dissatisfaction with other political parties over the years.

Having sound principles is fine, but not having the organisational tools to propagate your views and effectively link up with grass-roots support is damaging. This lack of organisational capability signified that while AD could take the political decision on whether to form part or not of a pre-election alliance, it could not adequately handle the consequences of this decision.

It would be pertinent to remind readers that AD was in favour of establishing a broad based pre-electoral alliance against corruption and in favour of good governance. The basic point of contention regarding the PN’s proposal for the foundation of such an alliance was the need that it be distinct from its constituent political parties. At AD, we were worried that the PN proposal to add AD and as an appendage to the PN was unacceptable on a point of principle and would inevitably lead to being lumped with undesirable situations such as unacceptable policy positions as well as undesirable candidates. We were not prepared to take such a risk.

Unfortunately, we were proven right, for example, through the selection by the PN of homophobic candidate Josie Muscat as well as through policy declarations by both Marlene Farrugia and Simon Busuttil in favour of spring hunting and bird-trapping, as well as contradictory stances on the motor racing track, or Simon Busuttil’s emphasis on the tunnel between Malta and Gozo with which AD disagrees.

The PN, in addition, failed to address its internal contradictions on good governance. Pending internal PN governance issues include Claudio Grech’s amnesia in relation to meetings with George Farrugia of oil-scandal fame, Beppe Fenech Adami’s error of judgement in taking-up the directorship of Capital One Investments Ltd, Mario de Marco’s db Group conflict of interest, as well as Simon Busuttil’s mishandling of the db Group invoices saga and its relevance to the financing of the PN.

From what is known, these issues, did not bother the Democratic Party, but in AD’s view they were a serious impediment to the proper functioning of a pre-election alliance, as they run directly opposite to an electoral platform based on good governance. We raised all this during the exploratory talks held with the PN, but the PN delegation dismissed these concerns outright.

Given the above, Alternattiva Demokratika took the right decision in not joining the PN-led National Front. Any Parliamentary seat that AD could have gained had it joined the pre-election alliance without the above issues having being addressed would have been tainted.

The future for AD holds great potential. In the coming months changes will be made but these will be carried out at AD’s pace. These changes are an essential prerequisite for ensuring that AD can function more effectively and efficiently in such a way that it can communicate better with its voter base.

published by The Malta Independent on Sunday, 11 June 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.

L-aritmetika ta’ Simon Busuttil

Il-mod kif Simon Busuttil u l-Partit Nazzjonalista imxew fil-konfront tal-proposti ta Alternattiva Demokratika wrew biċċar li l-PN kien, sfortunatament, interessat biss fl-aritmetika ta alleanza pre-elettorali. Jiġifieri l-uniku interess li kellu l-PN kien li fl-ewwel għadd jgħodd flimkien il-voti li jikseb il-PN ma dawk li tista’ tikseb AD.

Meta ltqajna nhar il-Ġimgħa, wara iktar minn xahrejn nistennew, AD għaddiet lill-PN sett ta proposti. Meta iktar tard Simon Busuttil indirizza lill-istampa qal li kien hemm kważi qbil totali mal-proposti politiċi ta Alternattiva Demokratika.

Id-differenza kienet għax il-PN ried li l-kandidati tal-AD jikkontestaw l-elezzjoni fil-lista tal-PN filwaqt li AD irrispondiet li l-kandidati kollha tal-koalizzjoni għandhom jikkontestaw l-elezzjoni fisem l-istess koalizzjoni. Ippreżentajna ukoll proposta dettaljata kif dan jista jsir.

Flok ma abbandunajna d-diskussjonijiet bqajna niddiskutu jiena u Mario de Marco. Fid-diskussjonijiet kollha li kelli ma Mario de Marco bejn il-Ġimgħa li għaddiet u l-bieraħ stess għall-ħabta tat-3pm iddiskutejna fil-fond din id-differenza fundamentali u ma stajniex naqblu. Ma Mario tista tiddiskuti bil-kalma. Ma għandi l-ebda dubju li fehem id-differenzi sewwa u li wassal fil-PN bmod ċar dak li iddiskutejna. Imma sfortunatament bqajna ma ftehmniex.

Lil dawk kollha li għaddejjin bil-kummenti fuq il-media soċjali dwar dan in-nuqqas ta’ ftehim ngħidilhom biex jistaqsu lilhom infushom mistoqsija waħda: xi dritt għandu l-PN li jippretendi li l-kandidati ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika jippreżentaw ruħhom daqslikieku kienu kandidati tal-PN. Għamilna ħilitna kollha biex inkunu oġġettivi f’dak li ngħidu u f’dak li nipproponu, tant li l-PN innifsu, fl-istqarrija tiegħu l-bieraħ ikkummenta dwar dan b’mod posittiv. Dan għamilnieh minkejja li fil-passat Alternattiva Demokratika ingidmet mill-PN u minkejja li l-pariri kollha li kellna kienu biex ma nafdawx. Minkejja li l-PN dejjem ittrattana ħażin, fl-interess nazzjonali ippruvajna infittxu ftehim. 

Dan kollu hu ħasra għax l-alleanza pre-elettorali (jew kif insejħuha kulltant il-koalizzjoni) kienet opportunitá unika biex inkattru r-rispett għad-diversitá politika. Opportunitá li issa tidher li intilfet.  Hi ħasra ukoll li l-PN ma kienx kapaċi jara l-interessi tal-pajjiż qabel jew flimkien mal-interessi aritmetiċi tal-Partit Nazzjonalista. Bħala konsegwenza ta dan, il-Partit Nazzjonalista issa jeħtieġ li jerfa r-responsabbiltá li qed jagħti lil Joseph Muscat u lid-delinkwenti ta madwaru l-possibilità ta ħames snin oħra fil-Gvern. Alternattiva Demokratika qatt ma tagħlaq il-bieb u tibqa’ lesta li tiddiskuti sakemm dan ikun possibli.

 

Għad baqa’ biss ftit siegħat ċans

Kultant jiġini d-dubju eżattament xi jrid il-Partit Nazzjonalista.

Nhar it-13 ta Frar li għadda kont il-Parlament għal laqgħa tal-Kumitat dwar l-Abbozzi tal-Liġijiet. Kien ġie fuqi Mario de Marco. Wara li irrefera għall-artiklu tiegħi fl-Independent on Sunday ġurnata qabel intitolat Basics for Coalition Building.

Staqsieni jekk kontx tal-fehma li invista ta dak li ktibt kien hemm bażi raġonevoli biex niltaqgħu il-PN u l-AD ħalli naraw jekk hemmx lok għal ftehim. Wara li tkellimt ma Arnold Cassola jiena tajtu risposta posittiva.

Imma wara li għaddiet ġimgħa u ma smajt xejn għidt li ma jridux jafu.

Għaddew 10 ġimgħat sakemm it-Tnejn 24 tApril ċempilli Mario de Marco biex niltaqgħu u fil-fatt iltqajna nhar il-Ġimgħa 28 tApril, wara biss erbat ijiem.

Dan qed ngħidu biex min qed jaħseb li qagħda nittratjenu u ħallejna għall-aħħar jifhem li dan mhux il-każ.

Għad baqa ftit siegħat ċans biex jintlaħaq ftehim. Tajjeb li nifhmu li n-nuqqas ta qbil hu fuq raġuni waħda. Mhux dwar l-isem kif qed jingħad. Imma dwar il-fatt li l-kandidati kollha tal-koalizzjoni jeħtieġihom jippreżentaw ruħhom bħala kandidati tal-PN fuq il-lista elettorali tal-PN kif jgħid il-ftehim bejn il-PN u l-Partit Demokratiku ta Marlene Farrugia.

Dan il-ftehim jinjora faxxa kbira ta votanti li lesti jivvutaw kontra l-partit ta Joseph Muscat imma mhux favur il-Partit Nazzjonalista. L-unika soluzzjoni hi lista elettorali separata mill-partiti li jiffurmaw il-koalizzjoni.

Il-PN għandu document ta tmien paġni imħejji minn AD li jispjega kif dan kollu jista jsir.

Baqa ftit siegħat.

Meta ma jkunx għad baqa ħin nittama li ħadd ma jiġi jeqred.

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

Alleanza Elettorali: m’hemmx għaġġla

 

Id-dibattitu pubbliku dwar jekk, meta u kif għandha tkun żviluppata alleanza elettorali bejn Alternattiva Demokratika u l-Partit Nazzjonalista qabad ritmu sewwa fuq il-media soċjali matul il-ġimgħa li għaddiet. Dan seħħ l-iktar bħala riżultat  tal-intervista ta’ Michael Briguglio fuq din il-gazzetta l-ġimgħa l-oħra.

Il-veduti ta’ Michael Briguglio, bla dubju, jirriflettu l-esperjenzi tiegħu u jwassluh għall-konklużjoni li t-toroq li jippuntaw lejn alleanza elettorali (jew kif ġieli nirreferu għaliha, koalizzjoni) għandhom ikunu eżaminati sewwa u mingħajr wisq dewmien. Jiena m’għandi l-ebda għaġġla. Dan qed ngħidu minħabba li l-imġieba tat-tmexxija tal-Partit Nazzjonalista hi ta’ tħassib mhux żgħir u li bħala riżultat ta’ dan qed nifforma l-opinjoni li wara kollox jista’ jkun li dan mhux il-mument addattat għal inizjattiva ta’ din ix-xorta.

Il-kobba mħabbla dwar id-donazzjonijiet li qed tiżviluppa bejn il-Partit Nazzjonalista u Silvio Debono tad-db Group tirrikjedi li jitqegħdu l-karti kollha fuq il-mejda biex ikun assigurat li l-fatti kollha huma magħrufa. Kemm hu veru li l-PN irċieva donazzjonijiet moħbija bħala ħlas għal serviżżi li ma nagħtawx u dan billi għamel użu mill-kumpanija kummerċjali tiegħu?  Apparti l-grupp db kemm-il entitá kummerċjali oħra hemm li għamlet din it-tip ta’ donazzjoni moħbija lill-PN?  Dan kollu ma jmurx kontra dak li l-PN ilu jgħid żmien dwar is-suppost tmexxija serja li jrid?  Allura jekk anke fuq xi ħaġa bażika bħas-serjetá fit-tmexxija l-PN jgħid ħaga u jagħmel oħra kif qatt nistgħu nemmnu u nagħtu piż lil dak li jgħid il-PN dwar prinċipji u kwalunkwe xorta ta’ proposta politika?

Hemm diversi materji oħra li jinvolvu l-imġieba ta’ membri parlamentari ewlenin tal-Partit Nazzjonalista li dwarhom tinħtieġ li tingħata spjegazzjoni.

Per eżempju d-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Claudio Grech li ma jiftakarx jekk qatt iltaqa’ ma George Farrugia, u dan fil-kuntest tal-iskandlu taż-żejt, xejn ma tikkonvinċi. L-aċċettazzjoni da parti tal-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni ta’ din id-dikjarazzjoni tixhed dubju fuq kemm qiegħed jiffunzjona l-kumpass etiku tant meħtieġ u essenzjali għal min appunta lilu nnifsu fit-tmexxija tal-koalizzjoni kontra l-korruzzjoni.

L-anqas ma huma ċari l-affarijiet fejn jidħol ir-rwol ta’ Beppe Fenech Adami fil-Capital One Investment Group u l-Baltimore Fiduciary Services. F’sitwazzjoni kważi identika, Joe Cordina, dakinnhar Teżorier tal-Partit Laburista, kien imġiegħel jirreżenja.

Min-naħa l-oħra Mario de Marco għamel apoloġija pubblika dwar il-ġudizzju żbaljat tiegħu meta huwa aċċetta l-inkarigu mill-Grupp db dwar l-akkwista ta’ l-art f’Pembroke fejn illum hemm l-Istitut għall-Istudji Turistiċi. F’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi, bla ebda dubju, apoloġija mhux biżżejjed.

Irridu nikkunsidraw ukoll il-villa proposta biex tinbena barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp minn Toni Bezzina kelliemi għall-agrikultura tal-PN u  flimkien ma oħrajn awtur tad-dokument dwar il-politika “ġdida” ambjentali tal-PN. Proposta li tmur kontra dak kollu li kien propost fid-dokument. Il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni flok ma tajru immedjatament ipprova jeħilsu billi qal li “ma għamel xejn ħażin.

Meta tqies kollox, tista’ tifhem aħjar kemm it-tmexxija tajba u l-iġieba etika huma bosta drabi nieqsa fost l-Opposizzjoni. Kull wieħed minn dawn il-kazijiet, anke jekk meqjus għalih waħdu, kien ikun iktar minn biżżejjed biex tkun xkupata l-barra t-tmexxija kollha tal-Opposizzjoni.

Kif tista’ Alternattiva Demokratika taħdem favur alleanza elettorali ma’ partit politiku li t-tmexxija tiegħu hi kompromessa b’dan il-mod u għandha daqstant x’tispjega dwar l-imġieba tagħha? Kif jista’ l-Partit Nazzjonalista jippretendi t-tmexxija morali ta’ koalizzjoni kontra l-korruzzjoni qabel ma jagħti spjegazzjoni konvinċenti tal-imġieba tal-esponenti ewlenin tiegħu? Il-fatt li l-Partit Laburista għandu ħafna iktar x’jispjega mhu ta’ l-ebda konsolazzjoni u bl-ebda mod ma jiġġustifika l-imġieba tal-Opposizzjoni.

Il-mintna li jinsab fiha pajjiżna hi riżultat dirett tat-tmexxija tal-Partit Laburista tul dawn l-aħħar erba’ snin. Imma hi ukoll riżultat tas-sistema ta’ żewġ partiti politiċi li iktar ma tispiċċa malajr, iktar aħjar għal kulħadd. Is-sistema ta’ żewġ partiti li kkontrollat il-makkinarju tal-istat bla interruzzjoni mill-1966 sal-lum hi responsabbli ukoll għas-sitwazzjoni attwali. Dan minħabba li bħala konsegwenza tat-tip ta’ Parlament li ġie elett kien prattikament impossibli (b’xi eċċezzjonijiet żgħar) li dan jeżamina b’reqqa l-ħidma tal-Gvern b’mod li jkun imġiegħel jagħti kont ta’ egħmilu bis-serjetá.

Filwaqt li l-ħolqien ta’ alleanza elettorali tista’ tkun ta’ ġid għall-pajjiż, iċ-ċirkustanzi preżenti ma naħsibx li jipprovdu l-mument addattat. Il-bibien għad-diskussjoni Alternattiva Demokratika żżommhom dejjem miftuħin imma bħalissa hu l-mument li wieħed joqgħod attent biex ikun evitat li jingħataw messaġġi żbaljati.

Huwa biss meta jkunu ċċarati l-affarijiet li jkun il-mument addattat biex jittieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet dwar il-jekk u l-kif ta’ alleanza elettorali.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : 26 ta’ Marzu 2017

Electoral Alliance : a cautious approach

The public debate on whether, and to what extent, it is appropriate to have an electoral alliance between Alternattiva Demokratika and the Nationalist Party has been in full swing on social media during the past week, fuelled as it was by Michael Briguglio’s interview on the Maltese weekly Illum last Sunday.

Michael Briguglio presented his views, no doubt based on his experiences and perceptions, concluding that the avenues leading to an electoral alliance (at times also referred to as a coalition) should be explored without delay. The fact that the ethical behaviour of leading members the PN Opposition leaves much to be desired necessitates more caution. There is no need to rush.

The political party donation mess in which the PN and Silvio Debono of the db Group are entangled requires full disclosure in order to ascertain the precise facts. Has the PN (illegally) avoided the provisions of the political party financing legislation through the channelling of funds to its commercial arm under the guise of payment for (fake) services? Is the db Group “donation” a one-off, or is it one of a number?

Wouldn’t this give the lie to the PN’s declared commitment to good governance? If such a basic issue in the PN’s electoral platform is just paying lip service, how can one give weight to any PN declaration of adherence to principle or policy of whatever form or shape?

There are other issues related to the behaviour of senior PN MPs which need clarification.

For example, Claudio Grech’s declaration that he does not recollect ever meeting George Farrugia with reference to the oil sales scandal, is not convincing at all. The acceptance of Claudio Grech’s declaration by the Leader of the Opposition throws considerable light on the functionability of the ethical compass which is an essential tool for the self-appointed leader of an anti-corruption coalition!

Nor are matters on Beppe Fenech Adami’s role in the Capital One Investment Group/Baltimore Fiduciary Services any clearer. In quasi similar circumstances, Joe Cordina, former Labour Party Treasurer was forced to resign.

Mario DeMarco has made a public apology on his error of judgement, which error of judgement was made when accepting the brief of the db Group relative to its acquisition of the land at Pembroke, currently hosting the Institute for Tourism Studies, fro the government. Fine, but apologies are certainly not enough.

One has also to consider the proposed ODZ Villa which Toni Bezzina, PN spokesperson on agriculture and co-author of the PN policy document,  sought to develop contrary to both letter and spirit  of the policy document he had just proposed. The Leader of the Opposition instead of dismissing him on the spot absolved him as “he had done nothing wrong”.

Taken together, the above shed considerable light on the extent to which “good governance” and “ethical behaviour” is often absent in the Opposition’s ranks. In any other democratic country, each one of the above, even if considered separately, would have been more than enough to wipe out the whole Opposition leadership.

Can Alternattiva Demokratika forge an electoral alliance with a political party whose leading members are so compromised and have so much to explain as to their behaviour? Moreover, how can the PN claim moral leadership in a coalition against corruption before it gives satisfactory explanations on the behaviour of its leading exponents? The fact that the Labour Party has even much more to explain is no justification for the Opposition’s behaviour.

The mess in which the country is currently submerged, the direct result of Labour Party stewardship over the past four years, is also the direct consequence of a two-party system which needs to be smashed to smithereens. The two- party system which has controlled the machinery of the state uninterruptedly since 1966 is ultimately responsible for the current state of affairs as it has continuously returned a Parliament which, due to its composition, has, with insignificant exceptions, been unable to hold the government of the day to account.

While the setting up of an electoral alliance could eventually be beneficial to the country, in the present circumstances it is not the right time to rush. At this point in time, linking Alternattiva Demokratika to the PN through an electoral alliance may send wrong messages.

While Alternattiva Demokratika will never close the doors to possible discussions on an electoral alliance, I believe that it is certainly the season to be extremely cautious until such time as the murky waters have cleared. It is only then that the time would be ripe for the necessary decisions.

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 26 March 2017