The party before the people
Is it not a shame that Parliament, one of the main pillars in a democracy, is almost laying idle? Parliament met only on a few occasions this year, partly because the GonziPN parliamentary group called for and obtained long recesses. Parliament is vital for the functioning of any democratic system; Bills are debated and laws are enacted in Parliament. However, over the past six months, we have hardly seen any debating or enacting of laws.
This is worrying in itself because, obviously, the country needs laws to function properly. It is also worrying in the light of the fact that, in recent judgements delivered by the Constitutional Court, some laws have been declared unconstitutional and, to date, have not been repealed or amended by Parliament!
This impinges on the supremacy of the Constitution itself, Parliament must legislate within the parameters of the Constitution. Although the Constitutional Court cannot enact or amend laws, it has the power to declare laws null and, once there has been such declaration, Parliament should change such law. It is a futile exercise to declare that a law is unconstitutional by the courts when such law remains in force due to the lack of initiative of Parliament!
In contrast to the lack of action in Parliament, the GonziPN administration has started acting on its electoral campaign. The government has suddenly woken up and decided that it is time to start listening to the people and visiting kitchens. This sudden awakening smacks more of a hurried and superficial PR campaign, borne out of panic, rather than a genuine concern on the problems people face.
GonziPN is not credible when it says it wants to listen to the people and try to understand their fears, ambitions and aspirations. We have heard such promises of “understanding” on a number of occasions during the GonziPN era. Coincidentally, these were always made soon after a defeat (such of the European Parliament elections) or, as in this case, before a general election. What GonziPN does not realise is that it might be too late.
The people who GonziPN is trying to reach out to are the same people who have felt betrayed by this Administration. These people, legitimately expected GonziPN to “listen” to them before and not now. Their fears, expectations and ambitions cannot be dealt with now as though GonziPN has just taken office.
We cannot allow politics to become a simple PR exercise: the “marketing” of politics has to be backed by substance. A Prime Minister should not boast that he intends to start listening to people but he should constantly continue to listen from the moment he takes office until the next election.
GonziPN’s spin makes it seem as if listening to the people is an innovative idea when, in fact, it is a normal event in politics, both for parties in opposition and parties in government. People understand that behind the clapping and smiles that followed this “listening” campaign there is still the same tired and divided party that we have had for years.
People might find this “listening” campaign interesting but there are far more important and impending issues that are worrying them at the moment.
People are still waiting for an explanation on the lack of clarity and transparency with regard to water and electricity bills. The government did not listen to the people when they asked how are such bills calculated and why are they so expensive. Is it just the price of oil or are we paying for other costs relating to gross inefficiencies, which have been going on for years?
What about petrol and diesel, are the monthly increases approved by the Malta Resources Authority? And based on what? Does 50 per cent of the tariff go to the government? The government is actually earning more at people’s expense!
There was no need for the Nationalist Party to be present in people’s kitchens to understand that these are the questions being asked. They should have done something about these issues from the start.
The truth of the matter is that, faced with a reality check following the local council elections, GonziPN is now resorting to all possible methods to gain lost ground.
A “special delegate” has been nominated to coordinate these “listening” efforts. This is all too little and too late because people do not go into hibernation for four years after the election and wake up suddenly just before an election, despite what GonziPN might think. People keep facing their everyday problems, fears, expectations and aspirations throughout a legislature.
The people expected the party they elected to tackle these issues by legislating and taking the necessary decisions without the need to delegate such task to an MEP one year prior to a general election. The people will not forget easily, especially when their everyday needs and worries increase and no answers are forthcoming!
A government exists for its people not for the party in government!