Electoral Moleskine #2 – Voltagabbana

René Rossignaud the latest Voltagabbana

So the Nationalists have finally found someone to switch to their side – or so they think. The sacrificial rabbit is former AD Swieqi Councillor René Rossignaud. The resignation letter (reproduced below thanks to the ecstatic Minn tal-Familja Contribution) does not seem to be simply RR’s doing. How do I know? I do not know what RR’s writing would look like but I firmly believe that this letter was crafted simply to be used by PN to hammer the message home to the “unconvinced nationalists” to keep their preference votes away from AD.

Whoever drafted the letter is not the smartest kid on the block and looking for an ounce of real motivation for quitting AD in this letter is like looking for a fart in a jacuzzi. Why is RR quitting AD? Because come election time, AD – as a political party contesting the election – is trying to win votes from its opponents. No shit Sherlock. There I was thinking that a political party would sit back and hope that an invisible number of voters would come and make their point. Apparently, Harry and his nasty band of watermelons are trying to hijack the PN vote. Or so the others think.

The leap of faith beyond the obvious fact that appeals for change can only work on intelligent thinkers of the electorate  is evident. AD are not an independent party trying to attract the electors most prone to vote for them. No they are STEALING votes from another party. And if this party is PN it is tantamount to Mortal Sin. Like Gollum drooling over his Prescioussss (there I join the LOTR club too, the drafter of RR’s letter  believed that basing RR’s resignation on the mortal sin of stealing votes from PN is enough to convince the unconvinced to go back to the fold.

Unfortunately it is just this very automatic arrogance that pushes people away. We don’t owe you Europe, we don’t owe you our cushy jobs in Luxembourg, we don’t owe you a flight home to vote on Election day, we don’t owe you anything. It’s politics guys, you’ve got to deserve the vote. Shouting “Mine Mine Mine” and “Stupid Stupid Stupid” gets you nowehere… especially because we’re a bunch of arrogant wankellectuals who strongly believe that a vote is ours to give and no amount of yelling and shaming from thre Cathedral at Dar Centrali will change that.  I’m sorry for René Rossignaud. He seemed like a nice quiet guy who believed he could change the world until he wasprobably sidlined by one of those luminaries of the Church (Gonzi’s Opus) and made to see the light again.

Meanwhile, that other voltagabbana of note, Carmel Cacopardo, has set an ultimatum on Gonzi. Either the outgoing PM publishes a MEPA report that has been suppressed within the next 48 hours or CC will publish it himself. Speaking of MEPA, George Pullicino blogs that “Dr. Gonzi qal li f’legislatura ohra hu se jiehu din l-MEPA taht ir-responsabilita diretta tiegħu bħala President tal-Kummissjoni Nazzjonali għall-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli. Irrid nghid li kont jien stess li ssuggerejtlu jaghmel dan wara 10 snin responsabbli minn din l-Awtorita’, fatt li Lawrence Gonzi rrefera ghalih. ” (GP suggests that it was him who told the PM to take MEPA reform in his hands after GP had spent 10 years responsible for it). Sweet – the underlying theme can be said to oxymoronic.

So CC, AD’s prize turncoat is busy uncovering the sad reality of MEPA at the same moment that Gonzi impliedly admits that much is amiss and needs reforming in his able hands. Ad’s turncoat is all about a policy that has a deficit in the Prime Minister’s own words. A deficit we hear about in every election campaign but only now merits attention since the party that blows the alarm warning loudest has become a real threat to the establishment.

And the establishment? Well they sent their minions out to find someone who could be behind a public letter apologising to the PN for having tried to steal their votes away from them. Their votes. I repeat. And then we are supposed to worry about RR’s letter? Give us a break will you?


RR’s Letter (Fausto translated it to English):

“Għażiż Harry,
Permezz ta’ din l-ittra jien qiegħed nirriżenja b’effett immedjat mill-Alternattiva Demokratika, kemm bħala membru kif ukoll bħala kunsillier għas-Swieqi.

Din id-deċiżjoni qed neħodha wara ħafna ħsieb, għaliex m’għadnix naqbel mal-mod kif l-AD qed titmexxa bħala partit. Jien dħalt fl-AD għaliex verament emmint li stajt naħdem favur ċerti prinċipji. L-ewwel pass li ħadt favur dan kien fuq livell lokali. Kif taf, dan irnexxieli nagħmlu u ta’ dan jien kburi. Infakkrek li jien ġibt wieħed mill-ogħla riżultati mill-kandidati kollha fl-aħħar elezzjoni lokali fis-Swieqi.

Imma issa li riesqa l-elezzjoni ġenerali, inħoss li l-AD biddlet l-istrateġija tagħha. Saret partit li jinteressah biss li jirbaħ xi forma ta’ poter akkost ta’ kollox, inklużi li tipperikola l-istess prinċipji li temmen fihom l-AD. Jien ma nistax nibqa’ naħdem fl-AD meta din illum saret biss strument biex jissawwat il-Prim Ministru Lawrence Gonzi u l-Partit Nazzjonalista, mingħajr ma tifhem il-konsegwenzi li din l-istrateġija tista’ ġġib fuq il-pajjiż.

Jien qed nirriżenja mill-AD għaliex m’għadux partit li jaħdem biex jikkonvinċi bil-prinċipji tiegħu, imma jaħdem biss għall-voti ta’ partit ieħor, partikolarment tal-Partit Nazzjonalista. M’għandi xejn kontra li l-AD iżżid fil-voti, kieku ma’ kontx noħroġ mal-AD u niġi elett kif għamilt. Imma m’inix lest li nikkopera mal-AD għall-kaċċa sfrenata tal-voti tal-PN, mingħajr ma’ nagħti każ tal-konsegwenzi.

M’inix lest li naħdem f’partit u nkun b’hekk responsabbli li ntella’ partit ieħor fil-gvern, li jerġa’ jifridna mill-Ewropa li tant l-AD stess emmnet fiha.


Rene Rossignaud
Kunsillier Alternattiva Swieqi”



27 responses to “Electoral Moleskine #2 – Voltagabbana

  1. “outgoing PM”? is that a genuine mistake, accurate prediction or wishful thinking?

  2. Factual statement actually. As the last PM in office he is the outgoing PM. Once elections are over we will know who is the incumbent. Unlike Maltastar and Labour Spinamateurs I do not give much importance to the whole “gonziPN”, “caretaker Minister” bullshit. It’s as though they discovered today that until the election Parliament is dissolved and government is on standby.

  3. I think it’s hugely unfair to attack somebody who has had the guts to behave like a man instead of like a sulking teenager forever rebelling against his parents. What Rene wrote in his resignation letter is correct: that if he doesn’t play a part in helping to return Gonzi as prime minister, then he is playing a part in helping to elect Sant, and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with that, or to have such an eventuality on his conscience. He appears to have thought about it, and reached a conclusion rooted in personal morality rather than petty partisan politics. Yet AD, the champions of morality, think otherwise. I’m sorry, but in your desperate attempts at convincing yourselves and anyone else who is listening that if Sant becomes prime minister you have nothing to do with it, you are on your own. If you had the slightest bit of political savvy or psychological nous, you would know that you are setting yourselves up as hate objects, when come March 10 all those who voted for you to teach the Nationalists a lesson, or because you promised a pie-in-the-sky coalition, wake up to find Sant as prime minister and the penny drops as to what they have really done. Not everybody thinks beyond their nose, and I for one believe that it’s immoral to manipulate those who bitterness/ grudges/nimbyism and sense of personal disappointment have made them vulnerable. I’m beginning to think that the real reason I am alienated by AD and Labour is because I am a grudge-free zone.

  4. Daphne it’s useless taking this haughty tack of the responsible vs irresponsible. In my book it’s a win-win situation. By admitting that there is no other way to avoid Sant than vote for Gonzi (despite all the grudges one may bear or despite the fact you may disagree with the way his party chooses to run the country) you admit the fundamantal flaw this blog is all out to uncover. I don’t need to thank you because, being the intelligent responsible analyst that you are you’ve understood that long ago.

    The pity is that it is at this moment that we have the PN in a little pre-electoral panic – this is the only moment to get it to acknowledge that something needs to be changed. Rather than do it they prefer to manipulate the voter with this sorry “Its me or Labour” vote – arrogantly assuming that anyone who disagrees is wrong.

    As for the RR scam… I am ready to bet anything that it is a scam. What else can it be? You do not leave a party BECAUSE it struggles for votes. For heaven’s sake, how naive do you think people are? Decades writing columns? So what? I’ve been in politics for seventeen years… seen it from inside the PN and from out. It is only now that the TImes choose to pay me for a column (under the condition that I do not write about politics of course – thank god there’s the Indy for printing uncommissioned articles). That does not mean that I too have not been observing and active for almost two decades now. Does that make the value of my opinion any better than anyone elses?

    And then there’s this: “you are setting yourselves up as hate objects”. That’s schoolgirl talk. The only people who will set us up as hate objects are the schemers and dealers in the PN gang. I’ve already got family writing in to make me change my mind. Patience, we’ll have to weather that too. Just like we weather the arrogance of people who expect to decide how we shall vote.

    At least we agree on two things. Never manipulate the vulnerable (tell that to RR’s letter writer) and Gonzi would be better than Sant. Now, tell me, how would voting a drab PN candidate as number 1 and an AD candidate as number 2 damage your equation?

  5. I stopped supporting the PN because of the silly conservative arguments like those being made by DCG. Those who choose to vote on the basis of “better the devil you know…” should realise only one thing ; if they are choosing between devils they must be in hell. DCG behaves like those people who refuse to leave jail because they have got acclimatised to their own prison cell. DCG chooses to say in prison because she fears that the outside is worse. When AD come along and offer a chance to break-out, she rounds up her fellow prisoners and convinces them to say put…..and the prison guards oblige.

  6. il-kaz ta’ RR ghandu rieha ta Terinata ohra!!!!

  7. “AD are setting themselves up as hate objects”. I think that other people are taking care of that side of things already – and it’s no surprise where they’re coming from. As for Rene’s letter? Well it echoes precisely the words of Lawrence Gonzi yesterday – dont criticise me- sob sob

  8. Well Daphne, I remember Eddie, I remember Sant and I remember Gonzi, either in government or in opposition. I can’t say Sant in government/opposition was a success story either. I too have insight, and what I see at the moment with another 5 years of PN government is another 5 years of archaic conservative ideas, another 5 years of sluggish economy, another 5 years of money squandering, another 5 years of nepotism and corruption, another 5 years of ignoring the rights of the not-so-small minorities in Malta. Do I think this is better than an MLP goverment? Definitely not. You have the right to think otherwise. I will not vote MLP into government. I will just not vote as a protest. If that will mean 5 years of Sant, then so be it. But I won’t fall into the ‘Vote PN to eliminate Sant’ trap. It’s not an argument for me to vote PN because what PN has become now is absolute trash. And I’m looking at the consequence of my actions on a long term not a short term (5 year) basis.

  9. Please let’s not let election aggro get the better of our judgment.

    Rene has every right to resign from AD, just as he had every right to join up in the first place. And just as Carmelo Cacopardo had the right to resign from PN to join AD, and so on and so forth and so fifth.

    The most that can be said about his decision is that the declared reasons are hugely revealing of the PN’s rather unwholesome strategy atm. He is scared of being held responsible for electing Sant as PM. Can;t say I blame him, considering that some people have set themselves up specifically to bully, browbeat and bludgeon anybody who dares stands in the way of a PN victory. Hate to say it, but it’s incredible how closely the PN has come to resemble the Sicilian mafia. First they try and bribe you by including your ODZ property in the newly revised building zones, or sanctioning your illegal boathouse, or what not. If it doesn’t work, they hold you up as “an object of public hatred.” – as the person who knows most about these things so aptly put it.

    Personally I think election ballot papers should be given out with free sick bags under the poolling booth seat.

  10. “I am a grudge-free zone.”

    Err… can I have that on a T-shirt, please?

  11. That’s right, Raphael. Rene had every right to resign if he had a genuine moral conviction….and even if he did’nt. And I guess no-one here has criticised him for this act. There’ll be no witch-hunt for the guy. As AD’s prPR said, Thank you for having worked with us, it’s been nice, it’s been emotional, but now we have to part, goodnight and good luck. It’s like when you give up on a friend or spouse and remove him/her out of your life: you either remain bitter all your life or you just move on. I guess AD have chosen the latter.

    What many are putting in doubt is the timing of the resignation, and the content of the letter, which echoes too closely Gonzi’s attack on AD saying that all they do is criticise Him. The letter reminds me of Daphne recalling Anglu Farrugia dictating a declaration she did not want to make, and forcing her to sign it. It’s campaign material like any other, and talks about evil Labour, turning back time, Europe in or out, and poor Gonzi (not poor PN) (or poor gonzipn, anyway).

    I choose to convince myself that Rene’s decision was a free one, rooted in personal morality, as Daphne says. But its perfect timing necessarily makes anyone suspect the PN’s Dirty Tricks department. Did Rene realise this just yesterday? Where was he all these years? Was there the mafia browbeating that Raphael’s talking about?

    I pity Rene and am deeply sorry for him, however. He has lent himself to be another cog in the machine, and has joined Jo Said and Michael Woods. PN are already gloating about this percieved dent in AD’s fortunes: a Salvino Ellul Bonici guy took the trouble to publish the resignation in the AD Group Facebook page. And they’ll probably use it as part of their arsenal for the weeks to come. After that, Rene will be disposed off discreetly, and we will not hear anything about him. They do it with the dead (cfr. Raymond Caruana), why not with the living?

    However, as I said before, Rene is lucky that he was in AD 2008. He might have been the object of a few curses yesterday, but he won’t be hounded by any green monsters. Hbieb konna u mija nibqghu.

  12. David Friggieri

    “Setting yourselves up as hate objects”

    For what? For writing, for expressing an opinion, for failing to pander to the status quo, for taking a stand against the big bullies of the land, for expressing a ‘third way’ opinion, for attempting to stave off the powers that wish to crush dissent, for refusing to sing the praises of Opus Dei Family Day on one side and Total Cynicism on the other, for believing that a change, however small, might just be possible. For hoping that a more decent society can be forged. For simply entertaining an idea called ‘AD’ that was once brushed off as “erbat iqtates”.

    Min mhux maghna kontra taghna.

    Plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose.

  13. Intimidation, vilification, browbeating..this campaign is getting ugly. “Setting youselves up as hate objects”. What kind of lanagauge is that? D’s really crossed the line now.

    Anyone reading De Marcos’ brilliant memoirs will realise the perils of this winner-take-all two-party system of ours: it grants absolute power to the victor, allowing him to trample on the common citizen as he deems fit for five whole years. “Abuse of power” is a term that is used frequently in the book, and the fact of the matter is that any party in power in Malta would have the temptation to abuse the immense power the system accords -some do it crudely, other more subtly. With a Labour Party that refuses to come clean on its reprehensible past, and a Natioanlist Party that has now adopted a personality cult reminiscent of Chavez, it’s clear that only a third voice in parliamemt, or better still a coalition partner in government, can exercise the requisite moderating influence. 23,000 voters voted AD in the EP elections, and another 7,000 voters gave AD second preference. This means that 30,000 electors understand this need – a reality which has been made even more stark with PN’s uncouth reaction and declaration of war on dissenters. 30,000 voters will be using the cross-party voting option in one way or another in order to send one clear message – it is time for Malta to grow up and get civilized.

  14. “Setting themselves up as hate objects”

    Well, at least no one can accuse Daphne of running a covert strategy or anything. It’s now there in black and white for all to see. Don;t want to vote PN? Well, you’d better, otherwise Grudge-Free Daphne will expose you to all the hatred and violence of an army of rabid “Ghax ghandna Gonzi Maghna” Nationalist zealots who are indistinguishable at a glance from the marmalja Laburista of the 1980s. If she doesn’t bash you on the head with a rolling pin herself.
    Nice one, daphne. Now I know I’m on safe ground when I write that the PN is becoming more Mintoffian by the second.

  15. I think this arrogant attitude is exactly what will get the PN outvoted, come this election. They really are getting nasty!

    At least I hope that will be the case, otherwise the Maltese electorate will really get what it deserves. Coz it seems typical of certain Maltese to criticize the (PN) government for 4 years and 11 months then suck up to it, come election time.

    Raphael, I’m relieved to see I’m not to only one seeing the PN becoming Mintoffian. That’s why I think that even the drab MLP alternative is looking more attractive to me.

  16. Vote Gonzi, get Mintoff.

    The plot thickens.

  17. David Friggieri

    Gold Roast, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Mile End crowd will be any less nasty. Just because they’re drab, doesn’t mean they don’t bite.

    Another thing.

    The TOTAL ABSENCE of anyone Labour in this discussion should also be food for thought. I’m sorry to say this but their line must be “hallihom jitqattghu bejniethom lil dawk, ahna niggwadanjaw biss nistghu minna l-bicca.” Although I don’t agree with Daphne’s approach and find her latest outburst quite sinister, at least she’s down in the ring: discussing, debating, engaging in arguments.

    This feeling that Labour folk are simply waiting in the wings to take advantage of the situation is massively depressing. And don’t for a minute think that a victory by default will make them any less arrogant.

    Ci siamo messi maluccio cari. Quella e’ la verita’.

  18. This is what I suggest:
    This time round, kulhadd idahhal subghajh (…) and we put back Gonzi in Castille. That would guarantee a refreshed Labour Party – ideally with a young, forward-looking leader. In the meantime, you folks get together and form The Liberal Party, a sexy, dynamic and intello-cool gathering.

  19. David makes an interesting point – while two parties (PN, AD) are “slugging” it out, a third party sits aside and benefits. That might be true – however does this mean that to prevent that third party from benefitting we should gag and censor ourselves and not criticise the PN? Should we keep mum about government failings? Is the Prime Minister the only one who is entitled to make late admissions about “mistakes” and there being “more to be done”? And if we do criticise then do we become “hate objects”?

  20. Great, David – so you’ve cottoned on to what I’ve been trying to explain at last. Nice to see I’m not a lone nutter here.

    Dispassionate: yes, elections do give a party power for five years. That’s what they’re there for. The problem would be if the system failed, making a coalition necessary. By this I don’t mean a situation in which a party with 32 seats is forced to coalesce with a single MP. I mean a situation in which both the major parties fragment to such a great extent that we end up with a carnival instead of an election. We’re getting there already, with all the entertainment being provided by AN, Alpha and Lowell. We may have our differences here, but I think we can all agree on that lot.

  21. Let’s get down to business. All this rubbish on the one MP controlling the rest would apply if AD had some covert agenda. Instead it published a manifesto for coalition negotiations. It’s on line. What do you disagree with in this manifesto Daphne?

  22. Good point Eddie. I would like to add that I supported the Green Party since I started to vote, only giving the PN No1 in last election due to the EU issue, which I don’t regret.
    I may have sometimes been tempted to vote PN since I used to thing they are slightly better than the MLP.
    Now that the planned crackdown from PN on AD has started, instead of having the Party in government give us good reasons to vote for them (and I don’t consider ‘the other is worse’ a good reason) I’m seeng the PN as a smaller scale dictatorship.

    If there was no AD, I would not vote the PN anyway. Scaremongering people with lies is NOT a democracy.
    It is to early, and heavily plagiarised to say Vote Gonzi get Ghaddafi, however if the PN will continue on that road, this might become a sad reality

  23. daphne – what is your take on the proportionality issue? would you commit yourself to fight for a fair system after this election?

  24. Victor Laiviera

    Strange that David Friggieri should talk about arrongance and the MLP afetr what we have seen from the PN during the last five years.

  25. Interesting to see that a Labour die-hard has just joined the discussion. Pity that because I know he supported the governments of Dom Mintoff and Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, I can’t give credibility to his views about Alfred Sant. Never mind.

    JustJoe: I think the system is pretty fair, but we don’t use it intelligently. The drawing up of the districts is certainly unfair, and the correcting mechanism on seats/votes should come into play even when more than two parties are represented in parliament. You know that it is possible to have the majority of first preference votes but a minority of seats. If there are two parties in parliament, a correcting mechanism comes into play which gives this party more seats, so that it also has the majority in parliament. When there are more than two parties in parliament, the correcting mechanism does not apply, which means that the likelihood is a government with the majority of seats but minority of votes (like the 1981 debacle). The big debate at the moment is caused by the fact that the way the districts are drawn up, Labour is likely to get the minority of votes but the majority of seats. If AD secures a seat, what we will have is a Labour government not backed by ‘the people’ – precisely what we had in 1981. That is why I am making the point that, because it is too late to do anything about it know, we have to work within the system and then shout for reform. A government led by Sant is bad enough, but a ‘minority’ government led by him is a recipe for instability, chaos and civil resentment.

  26. JustJoe again: I wrote earlier that I think the system is pretty fair. It is certainly more fair than the British ‘first past the post’ system, which allows electors to choose the party but not the candidate. Our system allows us to select or weed out candidates while sticking to the same party. It even allows us to select opposition MPs. If there are candidates we think unsavoury or undesirable on our preferred party’s list (and there inevitably are), we can vote for the party without voting for them. The real reason that third parties don’t poll many votes has nothing to do with the electoral system and everything to do with electors. When people in Malta vote, they want to choose a government, not an MP to represent them. I can’t blame them; it’s what I do myself. The arguments about coalitions are more than a little spurious, because they overlook the fact that in countries where there are parties strong enough to govern alone, there are no coalitions. Malta is one such case. When each of the major parties scores in excess of 45% of the vote, where is the scope for coalition? There isn’t any. You can’t blame the electoral system for the way people choose to vote.

  27. Come on let’s face the truth issa after the election has passed. I saw Rene myself celebrating after the election when Gonzi was elected. He is a die hard nationalist. What I can’t understand is why he did join the AD before. Maybe he wanted people to know him more and so enhance his photography career.

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