With 60 per cent of the population saying that they don’t trust political parties, politicians should be very wary of the situation. At the same time, the government enjoys a strong 51 per cent trust rating and an approval rating of +22 per cent. While a lot of talk was done on the former statistic, the latter was only analysed superficially.

That the government enjoys such a strong trust rating is almost impressive at a time when people are losing trust in politicians. I seriously doubt there is another European government with a positive approval rating, let alone with such big margins.

So two facts are clear from the latest Eurobarometer survey. Trust in political parties is very low, while trust in Joseph Muscat and his government is strong. And this is no coincidence.

For all the hullabaloo in the media on good governance, this is the first government to tackle governance head on by legislating in favour of serious reforms that hold political parties and politicians to account. I will explain how.

At the turn of this year, the law regulating party financing kicked in. This law has been gathering piles of dust under successive Nationalist governments, including in the last five years, when the present Opposition leader was being prominently pushed as a key figure entrusted with crucial posts within the PN and the government. This government, through Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, introduced it within two and a half years. This is where the dividing lines are drawn, even on good governance.

Simon Busuttil and the PN had all the time in the world to act and put in place the party financing law. It even had one of its own, Franco Debono – a strong advocate for this cause, who wrote the law and gave it to the PN government on a silver platter when Busuttil had been anointed deputy leader.

On the other side, Muscat and his government looked political parties in the eyes and told them to get in line with party financing or face the law.

It is through action or the lack of it that people judge governments. And, in this case, the difference could not be clearer.

It is through action or the lack of it that people judge governments

Apart from the politics of it, this law saves a bit of face for the country also in international fora. It was shameful that, until 2016, we were one of the few modern democracies without a law regulating parties and their funding.

It is now for the parties to take the bull by the horns and make sure they abide by the law. The law will put parties into a straitjacket but it will also remove the veil of secrecy surrounding political party finances.

The party financing law on its own is certainly not enough to make political parties recoup lost trust. But the government has once again shown that it is earning, through action, its positive approval ratings.

Looking at the bigger picture will show you a country that is thriving economically, which has introduced major long-term social reforms, new civil liberties and put in place also laws such as the Whistleblower Act, the removal of time-barring on corruption cases by politicians and the party financing law.

That cases of corruption and maladministration will persist is almost a given, because to err is human. It is how you deal with such cases that defines one administration from another.

What we can say for sure at this stage is that the government is laying the foundations for better governance.

That is why I believe firmly that the Eurobarometer survey is a good reflection of the people’s state of mind – that is, while they mistrust political parties, they approve strongly of the government’s road map for the country.

Ian Castaldi Paris is a former president of the PN administrative council.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.