Trading insults a sure sign of restlessness
When politicians start trading insults, as Labour leader Joseph Muscat and Finance Minister Tonio Fenech have done two weekends ago and as others have done before them, it is a sure sign that political restlessness is setting in. Calling each other incompetent may be par for the course for politicians but to those watching the political spectacle from outside the political parties’ orbit, resort to insults at such an early stage of the election campaign is a harbinger of worse things to come.
If they are trading insults now, what is it going to be like at the peak of the campaign?
Diehard politicians and party supporters are used to the rough and tumble of politics and to hard language but many others have become weary of the antics and shenanigans often resorted to during election campaigns. Thankfully, the atmosphere in recent elections has not been a fraction as bad as that in the times of past socialist administrations as people become increasingly intolerant to excessive zeal. It is not only the uncommitted voters that may be put off by such extremities but others too, including, if not particularly, young people.
Young people may not be as keen on politics as their parents might have been in their time but this does not mean that they are completely unaware of what is going on in the country or that they are only interested in their studies or in seeking pleasure, as some may mistakenly believe. When a poll for The Sunday Times found, some time ago, that new voters were more inclined to vote for the Nationalist Party than for the Labour Party, some Labour apologists rushed to the conclusion that this was so because young people were immature or that they were more interested in their own personal affairs than in local politics or in the country’s interest.
It is most unlikely that they would have said this had the poll showed a different outcome. In fact, accusing young people of being immature is an insult that the young people themselves are unlikely to take lightly.
Young party candidates are wiser than the Labour apologists and would not jump into making such unwise conclusions. Take, for example, the views expressed on this by two party candidates.
Nationalist Party candidate Mark Anthony Sammut feels that young people “look for substance more than what it is in it for them personally.” If this is a correct reading, then the future would look good.
Labour candidate Ian Borg could not explain why young people were leaning towards the PN because his feedback is very different. “I think our generation can see through the electoral gimmicks of the PN, so I cannot understand. Obviously, we must take note of the numbers. It’s important to remember that young people like me only experienced Nationalist governments.”
These assessments are markedly different to the views of those who believe that the young are politically immature or that they are not interested in politics. They may not be all that interested in politics as the parties would wish them to be but they can well distinguish between substance and gimmicks.
Will the young be deterred by the hard language used by politicians in their quest to get elected? It is hardly likely that they will but, like the uncommitted voters and many others as well, they are likely to take a poor view of those who indulge in unmeasured language.