The EP and Local Council elections are now thankfully done and dusted. However, the electorate has not only distinguished clearly between its winners and losers, not only its preference for those it deems as worthy representatives on both a EP level as well as a local council one, but it has also defined a substantial number who have shunned traditional parties and bestowed their vote to the controversial far-right.
Plenty of column inches have been dedicated during the past few days to this relatively new phenomenon in a country renowned world-wide for its generosity of spirit and great hospitality, pointing to a wide consensus that the unpalatable concept of xenophobia and bigotry is on the rise. Until a few months ago, the main inciter, the ringleader who it now transpires has mobilised almost nine thousand voters to gift him their preference, (60 percent of which were non-transferable, ensuring that the traditional parties and the rest missed out on their vote) was dismissed as nothing more than a cartoonish character, whose controversial, hateful outbursts proved that he is nothing more than a nut job. But now the Maltese people have woken up to an unprecedented reality and must come to terms with the fact that a substantial number of people within their midst have ignored the traditional parties and opted for ‘the nut job’, a situation which urgently begs the question – How the hell did this happen?
So, who are these wicked ‘racists’ who have voted for this kind of historic evil? Yes, history has consistently shown that nothing good can come of standing on the far-right of the political spectrum but deeming everyone who has voted for the far-right faction as ‘racist’ is where it all goes wrong. It is our supreme belief in our collective moral superiority that blinds us to reason, true facts or logical arguments. Yes, it would be quite simple to dismiss this whole lot, but it would terribly counter-productive in the long run and with a general election just three years down the line, we should all seek to deflate those numbers, not through sanctimonious virtue-signalling, but through a concerted effort to address the issues which are plaguing this faction.
In our lifetime we have witnessed a constant push by the international establishment, with Europe at its core, for globalisation, citing this relatively new phenomenon as the opening of the borders of the world, where a ‘one world’ is viewed as the ultimate Utopia. In theory, this liberal, forward-thinking scenario would probably be the solution to the many ailments riddling our planet today. However, in real terms, this stance has not only not created the elusive Utopia but has created unpararelled problems and further divisions within communities previously untouched by such processes.
There is a debatable argument by the international political establishment that an influx of foreigners will provide labour in jobs and roles locals shun, either because they do not want to do that particular kind of work or because they believe that doing that kind of job does not pay or pay well. In other words, this creates a scenario, even locally, where cheap foreign labour is flooding the market. Would it not be beneficial all round, that if you can’t get someone local to do a job for the rate you are willing to pay, then pay more? But this is a highly unlikely occurrence, isn’t it?
And so, a vicious circle is created. Local unskilled workers vie for jobs with their foreign counterparts, probably for whom, a paltry few hundred Euros would be a king’s ransom. Employers on the other hand, with such a huge cheap market at their beck and call, would never bother with locals who obviously demand the adequate salary they have been used to for years. And, so it festers…
Again, what about certain communities, which through a ‘foreign invasion’ have mutated beyond recognition. It is all well and good that the establishment provides shelter for the multitude of immigrants in our midst. The very thought that the sea lapping our shores is the final resting place of so many poor souls, who have sought to embark on a better life but failed, is proof enough that we need to address the migration crisis as soon as possible.
However, while providing shelter to new communities by plonking them slap bang in the middle of another established community might seem as a noble gesture, who stands for the people who already live there? Have they no say whatsoever? Should they just get on with their lives and not voice their concerns for fear of being labelled intolerant or worse? I believe that most people are not xenophobic by nature, but very few can stand back, in seeing their culture and way of life change without protesting.
It is easy for the rest of us who are not geographically part of these communities to condemn and dismiss these ‘racists’, as it is very easy to hold onto a generous and Christian mindset from afar. What if it was your ageing mother living alone in area that is now saturated to bursting point with foreigners, people she doesn’t know and people who have no intention of becoming part of the community; would you so easily cry ‘intolerance’?
Before we cast the first stone, does it not make more sense to try to understand what is happening within our towns and villages and how this affects their residents? Given that there are thousands of foreigners of different creeds, cultures and religions already swarming our islands, would it not be beneficial for all concerned that together we make a concerted effort to integrate these within our Maltese way of life?
Sadly, if we cannot mobilise people, both our fellow countrymen as well as the foreigners within our midst, to come together without any one culture having to sacrifice the characteristics that make it unique and effectively nipping any resentment in the bud, the day will come when a far-right vote will amount to a lot more than a few thousands…