Time to give something to the country
So now we know it. The election is set for March, 9, almost 10 years to the day from the EU referendum. Campaigning will start soon after the New Year and you will get to choose a new Government for the next five years.
I will be a candidate in this election for the first time and as it happens, I will be doing so also as the newly elected de-puty leader of my party. I look forward to campaigning alongside Lawrence Gonzi.
The stakes are high not just for the political parties but more importantly, for our country. And also for you and your family. Because it is your future that is at stake here.
As I see it, there are three main considerations that are set to dominate this campaign.
The first is which of the two parties is best able to continue to secure what you have already achieved and to steer the country in times of serious economic challenges.
On this score, the PN Government has delivered concrete results which are there for all to see and that are acknowledged by all European watchdogs. The country’s public finances are on a sound footing and this has helped us deliver what matters most to you in your daily life – your job, your children’s education and your family’s health.
The fact that we tend to take all this for granted proves just how successful this PN Government has been on these fronts.
But the question that you need to answer with your vote is whether what has been achieved will continue to be secured by the new Government or whether it would be put at risk or even lost. My view, repeatedly amplified in this column, is that a Labour Government would jeopardise what you have already achieved, let alone, improve your standard of living.
The second consideration is which of the two parties is best able to present an exciting vision and innovative programme for the next five years. During the campaign, the parties must prove that they have clear ideas on what they will do for the next five years.
On this score, so far we have had a stark distinction between the two parties.
On the one hand, you have a very good idea of where you stand with a PN Government and where it wants to take you. Right down to the details of its budget for next year. On the other, it is still not clear what Labour stands for. So much so that Labour has even pledged to copy the same budget that it has rejected just this week.
So why vote Labour to get a PN budget?
The third consideration is which party you trust most to preside over a string of historical appointments for the country in the coming five years.
Take the 50th anniversary of independence in 2014 or take 2018 when Valletta will be the European Capital of Culture, a unique opportunity to redefine Valletta as a historic city with a modern soul and to showcase our country to Europe and beyond.
And crucially, in January 2017, Malta will preside over the presidency of the European Union and become Europe’s platform for the entire world for six months, setting the EU agenda and negotiating EU decisions across the board.
Who would you rather have do that on your behalf? The Joseph Muscat/Anġlu Farrugia tandem or Lawrence Gonzi and myself? This is what it boils down to.
So the next five-year mandate will be truly bursting at the seams with historical events that will be worth living. But we do not have the luxury of getting them wrong.
Which means that much depends on you and on other discerning voters in the weeks to come.
I myself am already working side by side with Lawrence Gonzi to help the party gear up for the upcoming electoral challenge.
But we cannot do it alone. We need your help and with your help we have a good chance of winning. We ask you to do this not for the party but, more importantly, for the country.
Our country has given you a lot. Now it is time to give something back to the country. Ten years after the EU referendum is a mighty good occasion to do so.
Our country still needs a PN Government to keep moving in the right direction, to keep changing for the better and to continue striving for a better quality of life for you and for your family.
And even if the PN Government has slipped on some issues, there is no reason in the world why we should put all this in jeopardy by putting in Government the Labour Party, which has a history of wrong policies and no future plans to go by.
On March, 9, you will be asked to make the leap.
But why make a leap in the dark when we can continue to leap forward?
Simon Busuttil is Nationalist Party deputy leader.