Malta’s political landscape has undergone an extremely controversial period during the last few years, with plenty of events leading to accusations towards the government and the opposition.
Allegations of money laundering, corruption and the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder have constantly filled news headlines, as several politicians continue to step down from their positions either in the government, or in their respective political party.
However, this raises the question, has every politician linked with these acts resigned?
Whilst some members of the political parties resigned, there are plenty of others who have opted to stay in their position, even if they have been linked with the actions that their colleagues were accused of.
This has gone unnoticed for a long period of time, as certain officials must have known about money laundering and other acts of corruption by their colleagues, and could have even taken part in it.
With controversy dominating the country, it comes as a surprise that a significant amount of people who were in past political regimes have continued normally in their post.
It is possible that the more notable officials took the majority of the hit in order to divert the attention away from their colleagues, thus protecting their positions.
Additionally, it is also possible that the officials who resigned could still have an effect on the ruling and decision-making of their respective parties by influencing the ones who have remained in their positions.
On other occasions, officials have refused to leave their positions, even when they are voted out or are ordered to do so by the ones above them. Particularly in the instance when they are voted out of the parliament or out of their respective position, refusing to leave the position threatens a fundamental aspect of democracy, that of the right to vote.
Throughout all of these cases, the question of whether such people should still be involved in the country’s democratic ruling remains.
One of recent history’s biggest political scandals was that of the Panama Papers in 2015, forcing plenty of politicians around the world to resign after allegations of corruption and money laundering.
In Spain, one of the country’s most important ministers, Jose Manuel Soria was forced to resign after his name was linked to the offshore companies in Panama.
Whilst he had denied any sort of involvement in the scandal at first, he was then forced to resign in a relatively quick manner when compared to the legal proceedings done in Malta.
Even though his team was not immediately removed from their positions, reshuffles in administration throughout the following few years meant that new life was injected into the ministry and the government as a whole.
On the other hand, there are numerous examples where people involved in such a scandal were not removed from their position, ultimately leading to their own downfall.
One such example is former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who led from 2014 till 2019, despite the Panama Papers revealing that he had an offshore company set up during his presidency in 2014, something that goes against the Ukrainian legislation.
Apart from this, during his campaign for re-election in 2019, a scandal broke out where Poroshenko’s business partners were accused of smuggling Russian components to Ukrainian defence factories at prices which were immensely inflated.
This led to his demise, with him losing out on re-election to Volodymyr Zelensky, managing just 24.5% of the votes in the second round.
Following Poroshenko’s defeat, some of the top officials linked to Poroshenko resigned, including his advisor Yuriy Biryukov and the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Kostyantyn Yeliseev, both wanting to clear the area for a new team to take their place.
However, Poroshenko did not order government officials that were plagued with such corruption to resign, refusing to battle the oligarchy that controls Ukraine, leaving plenty of these officials in the European Solidarity party, the one that he is still leading to this day.
As a result of his corruptive acts, his whole governance ended up suffering, including those people that were not involved in corruption.
This continues to stress that whilst politicians might be seeking to take advantage of their political power, at the end of the day, the people have the majority of the say over whether something should be done or not, and whilst the powers did not remove Poroshenko from his position, democracy eventually did.
Proper investigations should be done whenever politicians are involved in such scandals, no matter who they are or in what position they are, and this is needed in Malta as well, as the possibility of people still linked to corruptive acts is still relatively high.
Additionally, the persons of trust of the government officials have to stay completely neutral and not side with individuals, especially in matters that are extremely sensitive. Malta’s Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, George Hyzler, pointed this out, saying that regular government employees, especially those in senior roles, have to remain politically-neutral.
Hyzler added that “Like career officials, persons of trust, particularly those in senior roles, should accept that their appointment brings with it limitations on their ability to publicly air their personal views on matters of politics and public policy.”
Hyzler’s comments indicate that those persons of trust must not be influenced by the individuals in power, as they are there to do their job, not to shield certain individuals from controversy, and if they actually get involved in such controversy, then they should face the same punishment as those in even higher positions.