Last week I in­formed the Prime Minister that I accepted to stand as a candidate for the Nationalist Party in the upcoming general elections.

Politics has become a dirty word and politicians are all too often perceived to be inept, divisive, corrupt and disconnected- Simon Busuttil

I will stand on the 11th district (Mosta, Attard, Balzan) and a second district which is yet to be determined.

Over the past eight years I have had the privilege of serving as your representative in the European Parliament. It has been an unforgettable experience that gave me a lot in the area of European affairs which has been my passion for the last 20 years.

In return, I have given my job all my dedication and I have sought to represent you in a dignified manner. I have tried to give you a voice in Europe, no matter your political colour, and to make you proud to be Maltese.

I cannot thank you enough for having trusted me to do this.

I am now ready to bring the same commitment and the experience and ideas that I have acquired in the European Parliament to the national political scene.

It was a difficult decision for me, but I feel that it is my duty to do it and to contribute more directly to my country, here on the ground.

I would like to share with you my views on why I will do this and how I hope to contribute.

The parliamentary majority is what it is and the opinion polls speak for themselves. I do not want to sit idly by to see a change in Government and then regret not having done my part to avoid this from happening.

I want to do this because I firmly believe that, despite its shortcomings, the Nationalist Party is still by far better placed to lead the country than the Labour Party. Not for the benefit of the party but for the benefit of our country.

I want my country to keep moving ahead. I do not want it to slide backwards.

Change is good, but only when it is for the better.

Not for the worse.

This is what I fear will happen if the Labour Party is elected into office.

If Labour is elected and sticks to the few promises that it has already made, I see great risks for our economy. It takes just one or two wrong decisions to put a small country like ours off track. It does not take much.

And in one or two years we could find ourselves knocking on Europe’s door for a bailout. That would spell disaster. And the risks for your job, for your children’s education and for your family’s health services are just too great to ignore.

I do not want to take these risks and I am sure that nor do you.

With my candidature, I would like to humbly contribute in two ways.

The first is to help regain trust in politics and politicians. This is a difficult task because over the years, trust has been eroded.

Regrettably, politics has become a dirty word and politicians are all too often perceived to be inept, divisive, corrupt and disconnected.

It does not have to be like this and it is a pity because most politicians I know, on both sides of the political divide, serve their constituents with a selfless sense of duty. But the perception is what it is and I want to do my part to help restore trust.

Of course, I cannot do it alone. But I can give my share to help strengthen the bond of trust between you and your representatives.

Today, the European Parliament is the most trusted institution in Malta. I want the Maltese Parliament and the Maltese Government to be the most trusted institutions.

I know from experience that trust is not something that you can expect as of right.

It must be earned.

It’s as simple as that.

I do not believe in divisiveness but in unity. I do not believe in stubbornness but in compromise. No one is always right or always wrong.

Coming from a politically mixed family, I do not see Labourites as adversaries, but as family. Even in the European Parliament, I never felt that I am only representing Nationalists. I represent all the people of Malta and Gozo.

With my candidature, I therefore want to appeal not just to Nationalist voters, but to Nationalists who feel alienated, to floating voters and crucially, to Labour voters.

Secondly, I want to pursue the vision that I passionately believe in, which is Malta’s rightful place in Europe.

I am for a united Europe and I want Malta to be an active and trusted player right at the centre of Europe. I am for a stronger Malta because I am for a stronger Europe. We may be geo­graphically peripheral, but we can be politically central.

The opportunities that lie ahead for our country through this strategic positioning within Europe are boundless.

But we cannot exploit these opportunities if we are led by a party that has been, at best, sceptical about them.

If like me, you want to change our country for the better and avoid the risk of changing it for the worse, then it is time for you too to stand up to be counted.

It is not too late.

Dr Busuttil is a Nationalist member of the European Parliament.

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