‘Labour’s politics genuine’
Labour Party candidate MARION MIZZI waited till the last day to decide on her candidature. She tells Christian Peregin she has always felt closer to Labour but experimented with her vote when she felt uncomfortable with her party’s leaders.
Name: Marion Mizzi
Profession: Director of cosmetics business
Residence: Ta’ Xbiex
Districts: 3 and 5
Marital status: Separated
You are a successful businesswoman. Why delve into politics?
Well, I want to be successful in politics too. I’ve always liked politics but I never had the time for it because my children were young and I had to take care of my business. But today my children can run the business and I can do something to help myself and my country.
Have you always been a Labourite?
I always felt closer to Labour. My father used to contest for Labour in the 1970s. But there was a time when I didn’t vote and there were times when I voted PN. Last time round I did not vote and the time before that, I voted PN.
Was that because of EU membership?
No, but because I did not believe in the leader of the party at the time, either because I didn’t understand him or because I felt distant, I don’t feel...
Are you saying you did not feel comfortable with former leader Alfred Sant?
No, I did not feel comfortable.
Don’t you think getting into politics can hurt your business reputation?
I hope this stops happening and that’s why I like the movement of (Labour leader) Joseph Muscat, because he is trying to stamp this out. I see the Government as a department that is there to serve people. Now, if you feel you are not served properly or another department serves you better, I don’t see the problem with switching. Nowadays, you can undo marriage, so why shouldn’t you be able to do that with voting for a party?
How did your candidature come about? Did Dr Muscat ask you to contest?
I don’t really follow news because it tends to be very negative. If you watch One TV you see one thing and if you watch Net TV you see the opposite. So unless something big happens in the country, I do not get involved. In fact, I will support whoever gets elected. If there is a Nationalist Government, I will not keep saying they are doing everything badly. I believe in this sort of politics, so we do not harm Malta and the Maltese. However, I think after 25 years there should be a change. Not just because 25 years is a long time but because I believe the politics of Dr Muscat are genuine.
Did Dr Muscat ask you to contest?
We had spoken several times. But on the last day that I could submit my candidature I realised I was watching TV every day and I said, why don’t I get up and do something to help instead of watching TV?
What do you think about Dr Muscat? What will be his legacy?
I think he will eradicate this belief in colours: red and blue. I think it is pathetic when people describe themselves by these colours. I think you should choose depending on what is best for you and your country.
I think he will also open more doors. Business has been jammed and money is circulating among Maltese and Gozitans, a ball going from one person’s hands to another and deflating each time. We need more people to invest in this country and we cannot have business stifled with things like extra fines and red tape.
Many people say Labour has only changed cosmetically. As a cosmetics expert, how do you view this? How important is image when it comes to politics?
Image is important but that is only skin-deep. What is more important is what is within: how much we achieve and deliver what we promise. I think this can be done because we’re not saying anything out of this world. We’re talking about things that should have already been implemented. As a woman in business, many of these things are normal to me. I’m used to reaching my targets on how much to spend and when to finish projects.
Do you think you are part of the cosmetic change? You’re an attractive woman, but do you also have substance?
I don’t think I am that attractive but thanks for saying so. I think everyone has a bit of substance. Today, even a woman at home has a lot of substance and must deal with her problems. Everyone has something to offer.
Do you advise Dr Muscat on his image?
What are the issues that are most important to you?
I want the country’s money to be better spent. Sometimes there are projects costing many millions and I think money can be saved and spent elsewhere.
Invested in what?
Maybe more on education or more clinics, so we do not overload the hospital.
One of the problems facing the country is obesity, which is the area of your expertise. What do you think you can contribute?
This is my subject. I wish to have the chance to help on this front. Obesity is not just about food. Even before a child is born, there are things that can affect them in this aspect.
What is Labour proposing?
There are already several good initiatives and government clinics that are helping, but I would want to change the current programmes into ones that work because things are not functioning properly.
Is Labour proposing anything in its manifesto about this?
We are looking at weight loss and prevention because it is not just about how you look... Losing weight saves money on pills, hospitals and other factors of mental health and well-being. Overweight people tend to feel uncomfortable with themselves and inferior to others.
What are your aspirations? Do you want to be an MP, a minister or are you just endorsing Labour to attract more votes?
I think a combination of all these but it depends on what arises.
There are 13 candidates contesting one of your districts. Realistically what are your chances of getting elected?
Having decided to contest on the last day, I know I am at a disadvantage in terms of getting elected because my colleagues have been working harder. But today people tell me I have a chance and when you are ambitious, you believe in your chances.
What are the important issues for women?
Women go through many situations in their lives. Sometimes I don’t know how some cope, especially those who are separated and are working and bringing up children. I think women need support, such as schools kept open till late so that mothers do not need to be disrupted from work to take their children from one place to the next.
When women do not cope, they put on weight, not because they are hungry but because they are stressed. The stress also affects the children.
Both parties are trying to attract women to the workforce but do you think there is cultural reluctance for women to work?
If a mother can afford to stay at home, it is a very nice thing. I think it is the dream of many women, even though there are those who can afford to stay home but prefer to work. It is a choice. The problem is when they need to work but cannot cope. That is why it is important for childcare services to be provided by the Government.
How do you view the changes Malta is seeing in terms of family values? We have introduced divorce and are now discussing gay rights. How do you view these issues?
What I think and what I do sometimes do not match. On divorce, even though I am separated, I did not vote. The reason is I could not understand why someone who is already married would want to get married again. I know it is complicated... But now I think, why not? If they want to get married, why shouldn’t they? I cannot decide for them... Honestly, I don’t like to judge. If someone believes something is normal, who am I to say it is not?
What was PN’s weak point during this election campaign?
I think PN’s campaign was very negative and deputy leader Simon Busuttil did not meet expectations. He speaks about red and blue and he is not joking. At first I thought a word had slipped, but when he keeps talking like this I ask myself: is he serious? I think this is old politics; very divisive.
Can you think of a good proposal by the PN?
I can’t think of any because there are so many proposals at one go that I cannot really remember one in particular.