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Refusing to jump on the bandwagon

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle leave court after testifying in front of the magistrate investigating allegations over their connection with Panama company Egrant on April 22 Photo: Jonathan Borg

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle leave court after testifying in front of the magistrate investigating allegations over their connection with Panama company Egrant on April 22 Photo: Jonathan Borg

This election has let many down in terms of what was expected to be a calmer state of affairs. Its circumstances were unwarranted and here I hasten to add that this is not because the Prime Minister called an early election, but — and here I have to be blunt — because a series of events have caused an accelerated sense of urgency by which we are now in a situation where there is no cat in hell’s chance of ascertaining where and how this will end once the elections are over.

As I seek solace in history’s longue durée—its longer expanse—I know that in the immediate, there is no benefit of hindsight. So, I need other tools by which I could discern what really stands beyond the shouting, mass hysteria, and passionate speeches which have lately bombarded the Maltese political imaginary.

Looking at Malta from a distance may have its advantages, but it does not make one immune from the noise. Nor does it keep one safe from the antagonism which has long taken over any semblance of democratic agonism which, wrongly, the Maltese claim to have achieved in 50 plus years of Independence.

The scenarios are well rehearsed by both sides. I happen to disagree with many, even as I try to look at things objectively, while also openly say that my perspective remains securely on what I would call the Left of politics.

For saying this I find myself confronted by others who claim that by not agreeing with them I somehow betray an allegiance to Labour. I am almost tempted to say: OK, fine, but don’t expect me to agree with the Nationalists whom I never regarded as being on my end of the political spectrum.

To that effect, I found myself really stuck with trying to figure out how, if at all possible, one could retain a conversation which allows me to argue that, as it happens, while I would recognise a set of events, backed by the International sphere of journalistic inquiry that gave us the Panama Papers, I have no faith in those homespun spinoffs which have lead us to where we are now.

Just as I have expressed my anger at PEPs featured on the Panama Papers, I have also refused to accept the claimed veracity of circumstantial assumptions that are conveniently chained together to argue that the Prime Minister, his wife and family, own Egrant.

I have also tried hard to sustain a conversation with those with whom I do not happen to agree on pre-electoral arrangements such as the one done between the PN and PD. It got worse when I congratulated AD for doing the right thing and stay away from the Nationalist Party.

So why am I even so ambivalent about the Opposition and its new allies’ pledge against Joseph Muscat and his premiership?

As I look at Malta going to the vote under a cloud of conjecture, I cannot help recalling how the Brazilian Opposition mounted a systematic campaign and case against President Dilma Rousseff and ultimately ousted her, installing instead a government which, not many years before, was voted out because of its inept and unsavoury governance.

A year ago, in May 13, 2016, I published an article in this blog, objecting to what was, in effect a coup that brought Dilma Rousseff down. There I highlighted a set of contradictions that ended Dilma’s Presidency. I also highlighted the compromises which her predecessor and mentor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, had to make, and perhaps came too close to the Establishment and the ways by which it ultimately compromised Dilma even when she was never implicated in any corruption.

The Opposition’s accusations smack of the same dishonesty by which the Brazilian Opposition attacked and impeached Dilma Rousseff

Then I asked: “Is there an alternative?” and followed my question with a note of anxiety over how every left of centre government, including Muscat’s, finds itself operating in a framework which could potentially compromise itself by vested interests.

So, am I saying that the latest situation was brought by Muscat onto himself? If we were talking about Panama, I have already said what I had to say (read my previous articles here and here).

Yet I feel that a line has been crossed when suddenly the PM was attacked personally, and implicated in a case of pure corruption and money laundering which is being bandied about without even awaiting a Magistrate’s Inquiry to be concluded.

Here, I have to stand with the PM as I would argue that the Opposition’s accusations smack of the same dishonesty by which the Brazilian Opposition attacked and impeached Dilma Rousseff.

As it happens we now know that the prosecutor who impeached her is in jail for corruption, and after a year protesting her innocence, Dilma is seeing the tide turn against the same alliance which threw her out on false pretexts.

In fact, now that President Michel Temer, who took her seat, is being accused of corruption, there is an attempt to simply put in a successor without going for elections. This is because those who pushed Dilma out are being seen for what they really are. In new elections Dilma could well reclaim her innocence.

Yes, Dilma may have come too close to the Establishment. Yes, she may have been compromised by others. But now there is no doubt that she is innocent notwithstanding her political gambles.

This is why I strongly refuse to agree with many friends of mine who keep insisting that like them we should all jump on Simon Busuttil and Marlene Farrugia’s bandwagon to vote Joseph Muscat’s government down.

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