Hardly anyone still doubts the profound corruption that governs the present administration. Even the stragglers who wanted to look on the bright side no longer assume the best. Taken together, mounting documentary evidence, multiple corroborating witnesses, unanimous independent opinion, and the murder of the journalist who foresaw it, followed by the cover-up of that crime and many others connected to it, are too convincing to be ignored.

We are far from having to decide which party should govern the country and how the more general acceptance of the diagnosis of gangrenous rot in government can affect voting intentions.

Naturally there is no hope that Parliament could show the government who is boss. Joseph Muscat is more likely to see pigs rather than himself fly out of his office. A political crisis in his parliamentary group is unthinkable. Even those entirely unconnected to his criminal conspiracy would not dream of challenging him.

With that reality in place, elections are a good four years away and should be far from people’s minds.

But they aren’t. At least, not for everyone.

Strike out the political fans, those who consider elections as a sport, a bit like the World Cup. They dress in their colours, drop their sense of rationality and individuality, abandon all trace of fairness in their thinking and hope and pray their team wins so they can wallow in that special brand of Maltese schadenfreude.

Discount those with a stake in a party’s victory, a promise of some arrangement – a job, a contract, a change in planning rules – for whom an election is like a deal they have secured and now wait for the shady palming of cash.

Ignore the unforgivably ambivalent, those who do not care for life outside their limited existence.

And what you are left with are tens of thousands of people whose first love is of country and who are solemn about their responsibility to choose a fair and honest government for it. Under normal circumstances they would be itching for an opportunity to vote this corrupt government out.

They came out in droves in 2013 impatient to see out the Nationalists whom they perceived as tired, unimaginative, in poor control of the rebellious little egos stuck to them like leeches and infected by what, after 25 years of sanity in public administration, then passed as corruption.

They switched sides in force in 2017, shocked at how their definition of corruption could be so completely reinvented; the people whose sharpened intuitions saw through the government’s cover-up and had no qualms about switching sides for the sake of country. There weren’t enough of them as for each one of those who switched back to the PN, there were voters who switched to Labour because they had a stake in electing a government promising to reward them.

Delia, who shares a boyfriend with Consuelo Scerri Herrera, remains virtually silent

What are those thousands who voted PN thinking now? They are not looking forward to the next election because, in their attempt to remove the greedy and the corrupt criminals at the helm, they will have to accept the poor replacement the PN is offering.

In place of the criminal, they are being offered the inept. In place of the greedy, they are faced with the starving. Instead of the sly fox that is Muscat, they have the option to elect the sheep in wolf’s clothing that is Adrian Delia.

As we near the first anniversary of the PN’s new leadership, people are despairing of the party in opposition. These past few weeks have been particularly disastrous.

Delia’s attempts at providing assurances about his fiscal affairs to The Malta Independent on Sunday a few weeks ago fell flat. They were punctured by the inconsistencies, the gaps left by the broad brush strokes and the predictable reactions to the newspaper’s adulating satisfaction with its own reporting.

His explanation of how he sold an empty property to his in-laws and split the payment into two tranches, to avoid paying tax on the sale of inexistent movables while obtaining the cash he needed to pay his overdue tax, showed him up as a commonplace crook whose tax avoidance is small fry next to Keith Schembri’s multinational offshore nesting evil genius. Nevertheless, it is unsavoury behaviour from a leading man.

Nickie Vella de Fremaux’s outbursts in these past few weeks displayed a reluctant admiration of Michelle Muscat rather than a welcome reprieve from the superficiality and misjudged ostentation, the child-pushing backwoods parenting, and the misplaced thin-skinned indignation when on the receiving end of anything other than fulsome praise.

Clyde Puli’s experience in handling journalists failed him as he persisted in error, defending his blatant breach of the party’s own rules through a story arc that started off with self-confident bravado, rose to accusations of deceit in the press and crashed with threats of reprisals to the perceived enemies within.

PN parliamentarians confidentially report that their meetings are ever less frequently about policy and more about parading a uniform appearance to give a picture of unity where there is none. Candidates privately report being given impossible tests of loyalty, forced to place their hands on fire and only proving their loyalty if they don’t grimace as they burn.

As accusations of treachery are handed out in fury, the party leader himself shows unhelpful ambivalence when, for example, the government makes a fresh attempt to promote Consuelo Scerri Herrera and reward her with a judgeship, showing remarkable contempt for the institutions such as the reviewing committee that they themselves set up.

Her continued presence on the bench is a disservice to justice, and any promotion would be as far from the interests of justice as anything could possibly be. But Delia, who shares a boyfriend with Consuelo Scerri Herrera, remains virtually silent.

For all those PN fans who supported Delia for all the wrong reasons, they’re left with another lesson on his character: ‘Jaqdi n-nies tagħhom’.

For many people, four more years of Labour’s corruption are an eternity they can barely bear to think about without redefining their relationship with sanity. That eternity is made only more unbearable by the manifest inadequacy of the alternative on offer.

They cling to false hopes. But the reality is apparent in the muddy trenches, and the futility of the superhuman effort being made to move Delia’s drinks cabinet six inches closer to Castille.

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