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A vote for change?!

In a democracy, the struggle between political parties is not a fight for survival but a competition to serve the people. This is the test we will be going through now that the final countdown has started.

The focus of electioneering shall be the people and elections come and go purposely to offer the opportunity to the people to elect the government of their choice. Political parties are voluntary organisations set up mainly to serve the people on the basis of their ideologies through their proposals of how they can do a better job in terms of quality of life, standard of living and economic and social stability throughout their parliamentary tenure of office.

Even the party in opposition has a prominent role in safeguarding the well-being of the citizen. Their major role is not to oppose the majority party but to counter propose what the majority party puts on the national agenda.

Although elections determine winners and losers, in the aftermath of the general elections all political parties have a role to play and their contribution is significantly important in terms of the country's democratic credentials and good governance. Perhaps in our case we still need to readjust our political system to ensure that all political parties are granted the same opportunities to be able to compete on same level field. So far, we have been accustomed to a duopoly system whereby alternation of government took place between the two major parties.

By and large, considering our culture and size, this system had worked out successfully for most of the time although it has now become a cause for concern not only in terms of "political democracy in practice" but also because the people are questioning whether, in this day and age, now that we are an EU member state, it would make more sense if a third view is aired in the chambers of our Parliament. If it were to happen it would be a radical change.

However, I do not see that a coalition government would survive in our political system as it stands today. Before thinking of this possibility we shall first see how the political changes need to be carried out without the slightest hint of dominance by the major political parties and without any presumptuous approach by the smaller parties. Having said that, it seems that during the forthcoming election campaign we would be experiencing an agressive participation by the smaller parties.

Alternattiva Demokratika's presence in the local political scene for the past 18 years had set the right platform to demonstrate that the people would be richer and wiser if they at least consider other options than those promoted by the duopoly system. Although overall Alternattiva's success within the political sphere was rather marginal if not negligible, surely they were not a voice in the wilderness. They had their say in promoting certain issues that traditionally were always avoided by the other parties. Their greatest asset was their valid contribution towards raising a national awareness on the environment and sustainable development. This time Alternattiva are working hard to prove to the people that they are not a pressure group anymore but a different political party with a strong desire to win a seat in Parliament.

Azzjoni Nazzjonali was born a few months ago but they are already leaving their mark on our political scenario. It seems they are targeting segments of our society in order to ensure that their political beliefs are well known to every household. This is a party run by businessmen but they are after the support of all those who feel disgruntled and disillusioned with the present political sytem or with the major political parties. They seem to be radical on certain issues and they are already paying a price for entering the political fray... They have been labelled as the far-right party since their conception. Unlike Alternattiva, Azzjoni Nazzjonali seems to have a strong financial back-up in promoting its Plan For Malta and that would definitely ease their burden to generate support among the people.

As Alfred Sant put it, the big issue during the next general election is the question of "change". The people will be voting for a change. It could be a change in government. It could be a change of party leadership. It could also be a change in the Cabinet of ministers. But the coming election could be an opportunity in a lifetime for our people to convey a message to our politicians that we want a change in the whole political system. Those who decide not to vote or to vote for the small parties would certainly demonstrate the need for such a change.

Normally people tend to resist change but fortunately not during elections. The people will vote for change... and changes have their share of surprises as well!

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