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Talking to the wall

The Economist magazine’s ‘Demo­cracy Index’ listed the United States of America as a ‘flawed democracy’ in 2016. It rates countries according to a number of factors, but without getting too technical, one can see that the direction taken by the US is heavily influenced by money above all else. Bribery is essentially legal, and one refers to such bribes as campaign donations.

In Malta, the laws surrounding party financing are arguably better, but the point that must be made, without further ado, is that Malta is well on its way to following the US down the troubled road of becoming a flawed democracy.

Lobbies in Malta hold an all-powerful grip upon the two major parties, at the expense of the rest of the population. Let us draw a parallel between President Donald Trump withdrawing from the Paris climate accord and the construction lobby in Malta. The US economy is doing rather well, but that is merely because everything is suddenly up for grabs.

It is very much the same situation here in Malta. This state of affairs is best described as lazy, and shows a lack of motivation, creative thinking or empathy on the part of the class of ruling elites.

Malta’s potential is being squandered in favour of cheap gains. Both major parties have essentially been paid off by the lobbies, or intimidated by them, to basically stay out of the way.

The study released by Matthew Caruana Galizia and Paul Caruana Galizia, entitled ‘Political land corruption: evidence from Malta – the European Union’s smallest Member State’, correlates the granting of permits to election cycles. As if it were not already obvious to every single person living in Malta, this country showed the power of moneyed interests over our democracy.

It is nothing new and nothing surprising that the major parties provide favours in exchange for votes. The resulting tangled web of poor governance, where both major parties have basically become the same, means that the general public is not left with much of a choice between the two. The environment, for example, is doomed whichever of the two parties takes government.

Does that not mean, therefore, that if the environment is the third most pressing issue in Malta, and neither major party really cares to address it, that Malta is in fact a flawed democracy?

That is the tragedy of two party politics in Malta, both of them held firmly in place by habit, loyalty, party propaganda and tightly controlled media. Not only that, but the majority of people are too afraid to vote outside of their tribal political party due to the perceived consequences for their careers, social lives and well-being. The continued approach of voting for the lesser of two evils will give us the very worst of the US, and keep the traditional parties deaf and dumb.

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