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Of oranges, carobs and loose alliances

Voters need to know where their representatives really stand for

No, I am not going to engage on a tirade against Archbishop Charles Scicluna. But I have to say, his analogies need a bit of polishing. His take on oranges and carobs is faulty to the extent that here we are talking about fruit, at the very least of the same genus. Maybe he should have talked about oranges and mandarins, or satsumas, though I am not even sure that would work.

Be that as it may, I cannot help feeling rather entertained, but equally desperate and angered by the poverty of the debate over Equal Marriage. In so many ways, it shows how confused some of our MPs tend to be.

Some think that Civil Union is enough and this Equal Marriage business (or what they erroneously call Gay Marriage) is just some kind of cherry on the cake.

“Why do you need it if you can be all but married?”, they say. Yet they should know (especially those who were exercised in the Law) that this has nothing to do with “upgrades”, but with changing substantially what marriage means in the 21st century, as a contract enacted and entered in by the spouses, rather than the priest or the civil servant.

This should be established by now, especially after the tumultuous and prolonged debate we had about divorce, where I remember well jousting with certain conservative legislators who somehow did not accept the idea of marriage as a contract, but kept confusing the parameters of their religious conviction with those of the State. Luckily, common sense prevailed, and the vote in favour of Divorce legislation should have demonstrated that at the very least there was some understanding of where the agency of marriage lies.

But listening to some of our esteemed, freshly elected MPs, you’d think we're in La La Land. If it’s not someone telling us that Mother’s Day will soon be abolished, we are being told that we now risk the Communist predicament of becoming all Comrades, with no hope or reprieve of keeping our much-cherished bourgeois titles. As far as I know Gorky’s novel Mother was never renamed Comrade Mother after the revolution; and we know Maxim was well cherished by the Bolshies.

Mario DeMarco’s sincere apology to the LGBTQI community for not being sensitive enough to them, is worth its weight in gold.

Having said that, this debate does have its benefits. Dr Mario de Marco’s sincere apology to the LGBTQI community for not being sensitive enough to them, is worth its weight in gold. It was with a heavy heart that this was said, and it was felt. I must say that I cannot imagine how a liberal minded person like Dr DeMarco could endure a situation like this, just as those in any party where they happen to realise that something is amiss in the setup of a group which somehow came together by some weird default.

Then again, and perhaps, liberal Nationalist MPs like de Marco really want to see a party that is not simply united by a negative bind — that of being opposed to Muscat's Labour. That is no way to do politics.

Whatever state of cleanliness or not a party opposite may be, one cannot build one party as some alliance in opposition. That is a very bad investment, especially when instead of winning, one’s party ends up in the doldrums and has to make do with all the people that came together under one generic issue — that of corruption, whichever way it is perceived, understood, proven or otherwise.

It seems to me that the party model is very much becoming a dubious one. While I do see the point of wide alliances, I must say that the future of parties being loose groups (some call them fluid) is an indication that the party model is broken and maybe needs serious fixing, or abandoning.

Just a few days ago, Walter Veltroni, one of the ex PCI founders of the Partito Democratico, the Italian PD (which has nothing to do with the Honourable Farrugias), seems to have woken up to the fact that Renzi has reduced it to what Veltroni likens to La Margherita.

Now for those sad political buffs like me who remember the scenario of La Margherita when it was orbiting towards Prodi’s l’Ulivo (which then became the PD) should remember who led the Margherita and where this alliance came from.

La Margherita, which was also known as Democrazia e Libertà was led by Francesco Rutelli, who was once a suave Radical, and more or less, quite a big shot in the later years of the First Republic, until things when awry and he found himself navigating the difficult new alliances that followed in Italy’s Second Republic.

Rutelli orbited around several centrists who were very much laic and for civil rights, but who also attracted some members from the old pentapartito of Liberals, Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Socialists and Republicans. Rutelli was known as “il piacone” (the pleaser) and this had something to do with his aim of pleasing a wide number of people in order to sustain his political position.

There must have been something to do with this political attitude in Veltroni’s mind in his rather belated rude awakening that his Democratic Party, which he considered as his own baby, is now looking more like La Margherita than l’Ulivo; let alone like the old offspring of the PCI.

To me this whole notion of trying to please bothers me and it is a recipe for disaster. As I have always argued in this blog, I see the parties in Malta going for this loose alliance model which when it works it seems to work very well, as we can see from Muscat's PL. However, such alliances also have a habit of going sour and they take a bad turn, especially when in their effort to please everyone, they find themselves confusing their own supporters.

Back to Equal Marriage, as someone who firmly believes that marriage, as a free contract between two persons must be recognized and supported by a secular State, just as civil partnership should be open to everyone (not just gay couples) and co-habitation should also be protected as a free choice, I do believe that this farce of a three-line whip on our MPs is not on.

Voters need to know what their MPs really think and where they stand on fundamental matters of civil rights like Equal Marriage. MPs should not be given the luxury to first talk nonsense (and show their crass prejudice) and then vote with the Party, so they could hide. And I say this for all MPs.

Voters need to know where their representatives really stand on matters like these.

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