After a hard-fought campaign, the numbers are finally out. The PL has garnered just over 54 percent of the vote share leaving the PN trailing behind with a little under 38 percent. Now is the time for reflection and analysis, including by the winners who with such an exhilarating win of such magnitude under their belt, can easily be lulled into a false sense of security.
But let us start with the most glaringly obvious conclusions. There is a substantial portion of the electorate, who it transpires have become what can only be termed as political orphans. Not the traditional floaters per se; those who have never had an allegiance to any one party, but rather, those historically avid supporters of the two major parties, who have consistently voted for ‘their’ party throughout all their lives, but who now no longer identify with them. And the numbers show that these political orphans are well on the rise; more than 3 percent of ‘invalid votes’ plus the thousands who chose to stay away from the polling booths are a force to be reckoned with. But contrary to popular perception, these do not only emanate from a PN background, far from it. Of course, the balance may well tip towards the party in Opposition but underestimating the number of political orphans hailing from a PL tradition would be a negligent standpoint.
For a party that boasts of an all-inclusive ethos, I have seen plenty of snide comments from social media PL commentators disparaging those, who they stated were using “their vote to threaten the party”. And this from the same commentators who solemnly swear that every new PN turncoat is more than welcome in the PL. So, according to these, how in the name of all that’s holy is a citizen supposed to be heard? By blindly following the leader and not daring to protest? What is this, 1984? Yes, the government has performed excellently in several sectors, the economy is on a roll, during both this and the previous legislature, but there are some areas in which it has failed abysmally.
The pledge of meritocracy has still failed to materialise, the destruction of our environment by big business, the unprecedented rise of property prices, the plague of immigration (more on that later), historic injustices suffered for decades under PN rule and which six years later are still not rectified… There are many issues which people emanating from the Labour camp are not too happy about… I believe that it was mainly the treacherous performance by PN MEPs and their immoral campaign to paint Malta as some backward banana republic where iniquity is rife, which has finally mobilised sceptic PL supporters to actually go out and vote.
On the other end of the spectrum we have an Opposition party which after two massive electoral defeats is still in a tailspin, offering very little in terms of direction and leadership, choosing instead to regurgitate old covenants that have seen it rejected time and again by the vast majority of the electorate. A noxious campaign which tried to appeal to all that’s dark and negative in our collective psyche and which while trying to occupy the moral high ground, has failed abysmally, once again. An Opposition wherein the different factions simply refuse to come together, instead opting for personal glory and the massaging of individual egos, where the wellbeing of the party, its supporters and ultimately the country come in at a distant second, if at all. And yet, it seems that the only preoccupation the PN can muster at this point is by how ‘big’ or ‘small’ this particular defeat amounts to in actual numbers.
Being a PN supporter is a disheartening undertaking at this point in our country’s history. A relatively ‘new’ leader who has pledged to find a ‘new way’, has been a no-show, an establishment which still intends to cling to the status quo like a rash, and a disgruntled PN support which to this day cannot understand what the hell has happened to its once glorious party. Small wonder that a substantial number of PN supporters chose to stay away!
Political commentators are suggesting that the PN is in dire need of a change of direction and while this might ring true for several PN supporters who have abstained from casting their vote, it also goes against the aspirations of those other PN voters who have once again elected Metsola and Casa as their representatives in the EP. If that is not more of the same, only the Lord knows what is. Anyone with half a brain would’ve thought that the EP elections would have dealt the PN with a swift and effective ‘change of direction’, electing newcomers, breathing new life into a moribund party, whose only claim to fame in the past few years, is its negative and destructive stance.
Speaking of which, Metsola and Casa are the same two MEPs who have happily and consistently tried to decimate our country’s standing within the EU and who through their treacherous vote within the same EP have threatened the livelihoods of hundreds of Maltese and Gozitan families. And yet we, a nation of purported Christians, are scandalised when racism and bigotry rears its ugly head but still reward treason with our sacred vote. Then again, perhaps prejudice against your fellow countryman and the damaging of his quality of life, is not on the same level as racism.
Ahh! And the far-right has also spoken. Thankfully, not in quite the bloated numbers as predicted, but in a rather more modest showing. However, 8,000 souls who have chosen to gift their vote to the far-right are by no means a small number. To put that in context, 8,000 amounts to the population of a whole town, Birzebbuga, for example – not exactly a number to be sneered at.
While it would be easy to dismiss these voters simply as racist without challenging our own narrative, it would be interesting to see from which localities the bulk of these votes have come from. Yes, there are die-hard racists (we have seen the tragic outcome of such a mindset just recently), but I also believe that among those 8,000 voters there are people who do not understand the repercussions of a far-right vote, people for whom this vote amounted to nothing more than a protest vote. There are people who are genuinely concerned that their communities are turning into unrecognisable shadows of their former selves – whether this is good or bad is not for the rest of us to decide from our privileged perch, and therefore we cannot just ignore these concerns or simply ignore the issues which are plaguing this portion of the electorate.
We have three years till the next general election, a long time in political terms, but it would be compelling to watch just what will happen to the ever-growing number of political orphans and whether these will finally return to their natural homes within Malta’s traditional parties. With three years to go, and with so many questions the EP elections have raised, we can only wait and see…