It’s all a question of trust
At day’s end winning an election campaign is down to whether a political party wins more confidence, trust and credibility than the other.
Personality driven as the present campaign might have been, people are looking for movements and politicians that they can identify with, connect with, have confidence in and rely on.
Electoral promises count a lot but only when they are taken and accepted as firm and sustainable deliverables. Coming from people who have over recent years specialised in an endless list of broken promises, they can only be taken with a pinch of salt. The mantra of keeping one’s ears and feet to the ground has been voiced for years on end every time this Administration suffered some sort of electoral setback, be it in the Euro elections, local elections or general election of 2008 that it won by a hair’s breadth.
The fact that since then it has not only failed to stick to its word but chose instead to step up its insensitivity and arrogance speaks for itself. It has adopted a more-of-the-same attitude and its tactics are those that one may expect to see in coming years should the electorate opt for the status quo.
The positive message of the PL, that you may not agree with us but you can still work with us, contrasts sharply with the negativity of a party that rather than growing into a movement has morphed into a tribal clan where even some of its key supporters have ended up marginalised in recent years.
As a journalist commented last week: Muscat’s handshake is an invitation to openness. We have seen this in the manner in which he has opened up the PL itself by helping it to grow into a movement that has embraced people from all walks of life bound together by issues and values they believe in and can identify with.
There was a time when Muscat used to caution that a long drawn-out campaign could prove to be detrimental to the party in government. With the cans of worms surfacing daily one is inclined to agree, notwithstanding the last-minute favours being offered by various ministries, government departments and entities.
Rather than blaming themselves for a number of strategic mistakes in recent statements made, Lawrence Gonzi actually put the blame on the insensitivity of certain civil servants, showing he has learnt nothing from his past mistakes. All of a sudden public officers have been turned into saboteurs, entrepreneurs into potential thiefs and tax evaders, and businessmen into a corrupt lot. Even talk of private public partnerships in key areas was suddenly given a tinge of sleaze, almost hinting in Orwellian fashion that we should go back to the old way of doing business, where the State prevailed over one and all.
The PL is capable of striking an effective balance between being a business-friendly government and an environmentally conscious administration. Many will have surely noticed how GonziPN has left out environmental issues from the focus of its electoral campaign.
The reason is easy to understand. They are fully aware that although they know what the right policies should be for our country, they stand to be judged by their records and achievements (or lack of them so far). This is an Administration that has failed most in the implementation process, that has been so reluctant to benchmark itself or to allow others to do so.
Some of its key ministers have turned a deaf ear to repeated public calls for independent technical inquiries into the running of their fiefdoms. National Audit Office reports have been glossed over to such an extent that the NAO itself felt compelled to dig deeper and probe further rather than taking the Government’s unsatisfactory replies for an answer.
Character assassination and threats of even stronger doses have only pleased those who relish them and those who have concocted them, as well as those who have triggered others to pursue this abortive and counter productive road. That has cost GonziPN votes rather than won it support.
I am in a position to confirm – but will respect privacy – that even top PN officials are displeased with the degree of negativism that has prevailed within their campaign during what must have been one of the most lacklustre GonziPN campaigns in years. Whoever wins the forthcoming election, I am confident that people have matured over the years, regardless of age, background and profession. They have grown in mentality, changed attitude, become less gullible. They have turned increasingly more discerning.
Hard and rigid ideologies have been pushed aside by them rather than by politicians alone. Instead, issues, values and new priorities have come to the fore and the most prevalent force has been the power of persuasion; the need to adopt a common sense approach.
The PL will give a new meaning to meritocracy – particularly after having a country run on such mediocrity. I am sure that one will not have to limit oneself to party membership-card carrying members to find suitable people to serve. On the contrary, all that we expect from them is a commitment that they share our strategic vision and not necessarily our political beliefs.
This is why that rather than promising radical change we are committed to a change in direction. We shall leave the ethnic cleansing to others. What people expect most are not favours or clientilism but fairness. They want to finally turn their backs on a two weights, two measures approach.
The PL Movement is in a position to guarantee all this.
With your help we can make it happen.
Leo Brincat is a member of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on foreign and European affairs.