Pan Circenses


Judging by the photos on Maltastar, the Times et al, attending the so-called mass meetings remains a favourite pastime of many a Maltese. Confetti throwing and handkerchief waving are not something I ever felt a particular inclination for. I do remember being told off by a young Chris Said (il-ganga) when in my days as an MZPN member helping in the building of the Independence celebrations stage in Saint Augustin Square I climbed on a statue and planted a nationalist flag.  Otherwise I never had a particular liking for these agglomerations of mind-numbing euphoria.

In the later years of sobering SDM activity – when being christian democrat did not necessarily equal being a die-hard nationalist (or being nationalist at all for all that matter – alas no signs of that in today’s SDM), I remember visiting the fosos and being appalled by the futility of it all. The words of “il-Kap” flooded on ears ready to absorb all and preparing to outclap their neighbour until the infamous hymn blasted on the tannoys reminding us all that Malta is “tal-Kattolci, tal-Latini” (of the Catholics and of the chamaleontic Latin breed). Then there came the tendency of having an election song – like that horrid “We take a chance” sung by the afficionados while rhyming the “chan” in “chance” with “man” ….

It’s the start of the run up. The molly cuddling of the die-hard “vote for the party come what may” sad section of the Maltese electorate. And don’t they love it. Come the next day they will be comparing photos of the respective meetings with criticism of the angle of the shot and the bias of the other media. They will recount with pleasure how good the horse’s meat, the bigilla and the snails at the stands were. How they had a close brush with Gonzi and his entourage and how they think he recognised them. On the other side there will be comments of how sure Sant was that he would win and how Pretty Bay had never been so packed. No one will mention that his wig has lost any semblance of greying hair and how come election time he will be sporting hair that would befit a twenty year old, should a twenty year old be unfortunate enough to wear a wig that is.

 The circus is up and running. The standards by which we judge democracy in Malta have once again been set in motion. The turn out to the different tents will be judged as the election gets closer. The fake interaction with the people in the fora tents erected for a chat with the electorate will satisfy the blue and red spectacled. I am curious to see how the liberal and conservative elements will react to this outdated mode of demoracy this time. In the meantime let’s just enjoy the show… because it is a show and sorry are we that so many people can have the wool pulled down before their eyes so easily.

Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they’ve told you what you think it is you want to hear.
Alan Coren


2 responses to “Pan Circenses

  1. I am curious to see how the liberal and conservative elements will react to this outdated mode of demoracy this time.

    I say, if people who want to hang out at il-Fosos at a mass meeting it’s their business. Whay do you think?

  2. Of course it is. I am curious to see how the liberal and conservative elements will react. Still leaves plenty of space for whoever wants to hang out at mass hysterias to do so.

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