Off to the beaches for the Santa Marija break!
Not even the heat of August has dampened the spirits of the two political parties, now locked in a battle of the billboards.
Going by the people’s light-hearted reaction to the billboard messages, most do not seem to be all that enthusiastic about politics at this point in time. For this weekend and the coming week, at least, many would want to turn away from politics and head towards the beaches for their Santa Marija break. They would want the shutdown to have a double meaning: a rest from their normal work routine and from politics. The first is usually quite possible but the second is becoming increasingly difficult in an age when the political parties exercise such an influencing force.
So, it is just as well that many take a philosophical attitude and, for a time, do their best to escape from the suffocating grip of the political parties. The problem is that, with the election now getting closer, none of the parties is prepared to take a break, as shown by their sudden decision to turn to the billboards. The parodying that is going on online provides a breath of fresh air and helps to kill a bit of the boredom that politics sometimes injects in everyday life.
Just as many are making final preparations for the Santa Marija break, making bookings for barbecues or thinking about the one hundred and one things they have yet to do before flying out to some exotic holiday destination away from the torrid heatwave that seems to have settled over Malta permanently, the Finance Minister comes out with his annual pre-Budget document. However, much to his disappointment, it is highly unlikely that his economic oeuvre is going to be picked for bedtime reading. The timing of its publication is, as usual, not exactly perfect, is it?
People are unlikely to want to listen to more talk about the deficit, the national debt, benchmarks, projections and calculations, at least for the next few days of rest.
There is time for everything: there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, just to pick one line from the Ecclesiastes. Looking at the bright side of the picture, the Maltese people would, at least, seem to be in a better mood over the economy, according to the latest EU survey.
There is much the island has to thank its lucky stars for. When there is so much discontent over austerity measures in so many countries, Malta ought to count its blessings. Yes, the country is in recession but the situation is not as bad as it could have been had it not played its cards well. A well done for this goes to all, employers and workers, not just to the government, however much it would wish to amass all the credit to itself.
It would be self-defeating if, ahead of the election, the parties were to throw caution to the wind and start making commitments they know it would be difficult to honour. The EU survey was carried out before the country learned it had gone into recession but, even so, the picture has not changed much since then.
The upcoming election is already deflecting national attention from matters that really matter but, hopefully, it would not do much harm to national objectives, particularly to the need to keep to fiscal targets.
However, even in this situation, it is well to take a break.
Happy Santa Marija!