So You Want my Vote?

So here’s my deal. A very personal one. I will definitely, without any doubt, vote PN next elections on these conditions:

1. That before the elections (and not on the last day), the Nationalist Party openly admits that the current electoral system and the current political lanscape is not conducive to a legitimate, accountable system of representation and consequently does not lead to governance for the good of the people.

2. That it openly admits that the country’s electoral population deserves more respect than it has currently received and that the time is ripe for an institutional and electoral reform.

3. That a quota for national proportional representation will be in place come next election.

4. That the laws on funding of political parties, regulations of candidates contesting elections (spending power) and the ownership of media by political parties will be reviewed within two years of being in government and submitted for public approval (referendum) following an open discussion with ALL the public.

5. That an Open Public Debate will be immidiately initiated on all  reforms that are necessary for the rejuvenation of our democracy that will return politicians to their role as servants of the people and pursuers of public good. That the concept of public good will replace the implied concept of what is good for the party.

6. That it recognises that the electoral mechanisms practically mean that the majority never represents clearly a particular issue or position and that it will examine the possibility of other mechanisms in order to consult the population on certain measures and positions to be taken.

7. That yes, together all is possible… when together is really the all-inclusive, all encompassing word… and not simply those who agree to see the world with blue eyes only.

Sadly, I wanted to type this in a much more formal way but seeinghow the discussion is veering in this direction anyway I would like you people to join in and suggest amendments to this draft. I would say that having reread this, the appeal should be to all parties to make the same commitment. I cannot do anything better now since I have a beginners’ slope waiting for some practice before my lesson today when I start my first green slope.



31 responses to “So You Want my Vote?

  1. With your permission, I will use this to respond to the deluge of misleading pro-PN emails that has just begun.

    I would add to number 4: That before the election it will declare all contributions exceeding Lm1,000 per annum that it has received in the past ten years.*

    Of course, if any promises about electoral reform were to be made, I have little confidence that they would not fall on the wayside. It’s easy to look sweet now and then blame the other party.

    * a future electoral law should make provision for the constituent parts of corporate groups, and the majority shareholders of companies not to be treated as separate persons for the purposes of the Political Party Funding Act 2010 (wishful thinking)

  2. This is a wee bit funny, guys. It’s like the American Writers’ Guild calling off the strike in time for the Globes. It’s abundantly clear that – yes – Gonzi will say something on these lines in the coming days and – yes – we’ll all vote for a Nat come March 8th.

    There’s no doubt about it now. March 10th all at Place Castille for GonzKat.

    If there’s still anybody thinking that Sant will win this election, that person must be living in cuckoo-land.

    On the whole, caps off to Daphne and Co. Whether you’re ready to admit it or not, PN’s strategy is working to perfection election year in election year out.

  3. Actually I doubt that PN would agree do all of the things that Jacques mentioned, and would especially not do what I added above. They might promise electoral reform, but if they do not do so as forcefully and holistically as Jacques suggested, they cannot be taken seriously (and I would take any promises with a pinch of salt anyway given that so far any excuse to depart from principle has been valid to them).

  4. Justin, all Gonzi needs to do is say: “Ok – I admit some people might be feeling frustrated. So – a new PN government will bring together all parties to discuss a new electoral reform so that nobody feels excluded from the democratic process.” Full stop. I cannot speak for J’Accuse but something tells me that would simply be enough. If not for him, for a lot of others who are still hesitating between PN and AD but at all cost don’t want Sant to hold their can of Fanta for a minute, let alone govern their country for five years.

  5. I’m afraid Justin is right. Mot even a Labour-style Patt mal-Poplu (jew ma Jacques) signed by Gonzi, Kate etc will convince me otherwise. Electoral reform at this stage? After the election? At the moment the Nationalists come up with a new vote-catching gimmick every day – what’s to stop them from coming up with the electoral reform promise? They will not do so forcefully or holistically. How do I know? The PN and the MLP have been involved in tri-partite talks for ages. Absolutely nothing has come of it – except the skewering of the system in their favour. As Gonzi himself says, “Judge me on what I do, not on what I say”. We see what he has DONE.

  6. It might not convince you, Claire, but it would convince a lot of people who are still hesitating between PN and AD. Gonzi could even brush the topic, but it would be enough to sway potential AD voters. Don’t forget that AD has got a very very tiny slice that can call ‘AD activists’ (suq – maximum 1,000 ppl). All the rest are just sympatishers and the only things they know about AD are: Harry, Ambjent, Kacca and – maybe maybe – Cassola.

    PS: I have the impression that AD has got some great folks (Harry to start with) but their best face is undoubtedly Mario Mallia. Can we have more of him throughout the campaign? He can express himself clearly, he’s got taste, is very decent and highly likeable.

  7. “A [promise] during an election is tantamount to no [promise] at all” PM Gonzi had ample time to prove himself; personally I believe that it’s too late now.

  8. Dear Jacques,

    AD must quantitatively prove its support, ie no 1s in the next election. If their odd 3000 votes are yet again confirmed, the electoral system should not change. It is the will of the masses that decides politics not the will of the individual.

  9. I think you’ve all lost the plot. Sure, Jacques, the nationalists will make a deal with you a few days or even a few hours before the election. But deal or no deal (ahem), once they are elected they will do exactly as they please, and nobody in this country, least of all you, will be able to stop them. If you don;t believe me, ask the hunters. Honestly, I am amazed you still believe their pre-electoral promises. You may as well still believe in the Tooth Fairy.

  10. (i) Several people will give AD candidates their no 2 and 3 votes as a compromise based on our electoral system that attaches importance to no 1 votes. That being said, you raise an important point, namely that many will only look at no 1 votes and the no 2’s will be ignored in a post-election appraisal of the movement for electoral reform. That is another reason why I might give AD my no 1 vote.

    (ii) The constitution is an enduring legal instrument that has nothing whatsoever to do with AD. The electoral system should be changed not because it suits AD but because it suits the country to have a system that does not potentially disenfranchise over 10% of the population.

    (iii) Forza Juve (biex taqbel mieghi dwar haga wahda)

  11. How can PN promise to introduce something which needs a two-thirds majority in Parliament? MLP had first rejected the introduction of national proportional representation (Gonzi Commission), and more recently agreed to it on the condition that whoever gets a relative majority of votes would have the exclusive right to govern, thereby conveniently excluding any need for coalitions.

    PN has as much power to unilaterally introduce a national proportional representation system as it has power to unilaterally amend the neutrality clause (much as it would like to do so) – that is, zilch. MLP has to be onboard as well – but they have not exactly been the most constructive of partners on this point . In this case, it takes three (sic) to tango.

  12. Victor Laiviera

    Raphael, you don’t believ Gonzi and his program of 353 promises?

    Go and wash out your mouth with soap and water.

  13. Note for Anton: electoral reform should not come about simply to please AD. What about future political parties which have yet to be formed?

    Victor: the number 353 makes me laugh. Why didn;t they make another 12 promises while they were at it? This way, they could claim to have made a promise for every day of the year…

  14. Two quick points.
    First the chances of pursuing electoral reform after the election. People have written in to say that it’s been tried. With respect I don’t think that effort, while well-intentioned, was good enough.
    It tried to use the standard party-political channels. That is, it tried to use the very system that is stacked against them. I’m sorry, it’s clear that’s not going to work.
    There has been no sustained effort by anyone to create a national campaign that would force politicians to take notice. Of course it will be hard; redesigning a political system is no mean feat.
    Second, let’s put things a little in perspective.
    There are things to be fixed with our electoral system – but this is true of pretty much every democracy there is, including the most advanced ones. Most democracies are in a semi-permanent state of trying to find the balance between a system that is fully proportional (but cumbersome to manage with as many parties as there are points of view) and one where there is a high barrier to new entrants (which makes for strong government, but leads to certain voices being less well represented).
    In the US Presidents are very often elected when their opponent has an absolute majority of the vote – see George W / Al Gore in 2000. 78% of Democrats, 60% of Republicans, and 73% of independent voters (thanks Wiki…) would like to move to a popular vote – but the system has made sure it hasn’t happened yet. And good luck to anyone trying to start a new party there to challenge the stranglehold on power shared by the republicans and democrats.
    In the UK the system is hugely rigged in favour of the big 2, and furthermore, in favour very often of the incumbent government. Analysts agree that a dead heat in the next election in terms of the popular vote will lead to comfortable labour majority.
    On the other hand I could mention Italy – hardly a role model political system with its 1001 parties squabbling for a bit of the action. And I live in Belgium, a country that has just suffered through a damaging and embarrassing half a year trying to cobble together a coalition, not the first time this happened.
    This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try and fix our own system to find a better balance. But in recognising the problem we should also recognise the level of the problem – one that is common to democratic systems, and one that we should take seriously, but not one that should drive all other issues to one side.

  15. David friggieri

    I have a small, humble prediction to make. Whether or not AD makes it to parliament this time, independent individuals will increasingly be responsible for change in dead-locked Malta. If the 20s – 30s generation are ready to take up the challenge, we can expect exciting times ahead.

    The Background: We are up against a party which has stuck with the same leader for 16 whole years (I call him the marathon man of European opposition politics) and another party which, for all intents and purposes, has reached an ideological brick wall (having Church doctrine as your main source of inspiration doesn’t leave too much room for development unless we’re resigned to judging our nation’s success solely on the basis of GDP and foreign direct investment). Throughout these two hijack operations, our intellectuals have been SILENT.

    It’s time to get things moving again.

  16. No they haven’t been silent. Last Sunday on Il-Mument, for example, our top intellectual wrote a very intellectual piece indeed.

  17. I believe the Maltese electorate is suffering from a Stockholm syndrome, and that’s as Scandinavian as Malta will get unfortunately. A battered wife will usually forgive her husband when he comes back promising that he will change, only to offend once again. And that is just what the PN is doing with the Maltese electorate. Come March, if the PN is back in power (and I wouldn’t be surprised it will be despite the opinion polls), it will still be same PN as before, only the bruises this time round will be worse. Given a not-very-reassuring alternative, it’s better the devil you know isn’t it?

  18. “Dispassionate” here makes the most fundamental point: to change the electoral system you need to amend an entrenched provision of the Constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Patrick claims that not much effort was made but if one were to check out the page of Professor Lane it becomes obvious that, over the years, Labour has done nothing more than stonewalling to Government’s proposals.

    Note, for example, the Electoral Reform Debate, 1995 – 1996 page where various Labour MPs complain about the Government proposal to allow cross-Party transferability of votes from a Party that fails to make the threshold to other Parties and, at the same time, complaining that there will no longer be the possibility of transferring votes from a main Party to a smaller Party that does not make it to the national threshold.

    Note also that, the electoral reform debate died down whenever Labour was in government. Except for 1987 when it gave in to an amendment not because the Party thought it was right and fair but only because the Nationalists were ready to give in to the addition of provisions on neutrality and foreign interference.

    So Justin and Patrick, forget it if you think some sort of broad “popular action” would change Labour’s mind. Unless, that is, you have something to give up to the Party.

  19. “I believe the Maltese electorate is suffering from a Stockholm syndrome, and that’s as Scandinavian as Malta will get unfortunately.” – Gold Roast

    Shit, that’s one for the book of aphorisms. Never a truer word spoken, well done.

  20. Yeee yahooooooooo Yeeeee yahoooooo

    Jiena u t-tifel ta’ Daphne ghandna l-istess livell ta’ edukazzjoni!!!!!!


  21. Rafe – don’t you think we’re a bit too young for you to sound as cynical and jaded as you do? The way you speak we’re all doomed for ever. Sure we’ve got our problems, as many as you like, and we’ll be struggling with them for all our days. That’s life.

    But the set of problems changes all the time. The problems we have today are of a different order of magnitude. In our lifetime we’ve moved from defending our democracy to trying to improve it; from having a closed economy where we tried to shelter our firms from competition, to an open one where we compete with the rest. Quite well too. From a debate about whether to enter Europe, to one about how to make the best of it.

    Progress happens. But our expectations outpace the actual change; that’s bad because it means we always feel a litle discontented. But its good because those rising aspirations are the engine of change, as everyone – governments, service providers – tries to keep up.

    David is right. The growing group of young, free minded people will increasingly determine the country’s direction and pace of progress. This discussion, and the new medium we’re using to have it, will help this process along.

  22. So you want my vote? Let me say that after a day of tiring ski in which i zoomed through the green level and was promoted to blue (don’t get too gleeful if you’re a nat with blinkers… red is a higher level than blue then there’s black)… well, after a day of skiing the comment i agree with most is Davids.

    No I would not believe a half-baked PN promise. It is more a declaration of what would have convinced me. It is the need for an admission – out in the open. The admission is already there in the open discussion…. we will probably never get it from the party themselves.

    Patrick, Raphael, Claire, David and all the rest of you… the onus is on us to keep this discussion going. This manifesto is for us and not for them. You’ll have people like Anton reminding you that there are no visible votes in favour of change – of course it’s like a team that trounced another in a rigged football match. They can always say that the other team lost for not scoring more goals… conveniently ignoring that the game was rigged in the first place.

    There will be Fausto the cynic I like to consider as the brakes to idealistic enthusiasm. Fausto the one who knows why Gonzi chose whatever districts he chose but prefers to hide behind punctillious corrections rather than admit that ministers are NOT chosen by the people.

    We all need to be there… because why the MLPNAD are busy thinking about 5 year governments and coalitions we can be busy creating an awareness about the future and how our country can be bettered. Idealistic ? Maybe…. but as I said in an earlier comment and will say again…

    The future is not theirs to take but ours to make.


  23. David: people in their 20s and 30s rapidly become people in their 40s and 50s, and then they stop having anything in common with people in their 20s and 30s – so unless a political organisation is geared toward people of all ages, it’s doomed to die a natural death through atrophy. I’ve noticed that AD still thinks of itself as a ‘young’ organisation, but it is anything but, some of its people having grown up with it over the last 19 years. I think you will notice that as the public face of AD enters its mid-50s, people in their 20s are going to be rather less excited about it. AD will have become a ‘parents’ thing. This is just my observation, that’s all, heightened by the sight of Harry, Arnold and Carmel standing together at the university debate this morning. Even I consider them to be an older generation, so how much less appealing are they going to be to university students, when their ‘unique selling point’, so to speak, is the spirit of rebellion? There are few things less appealing to 18-year-olds than the sight of ‘old people’, as they would put it, ‘trying to be young’.

  24. Re. electoral reform: I’m all for it Jacques. PN have tried, but probably not hard enough. For instance, the sheer waste and hassle involved in getting people from abroad to vote should be enough to convince anyone. And what about the idiocy of delivering voting documents during office hours? Most people work or have better things to do than loaf about at home waiting for the cop and his sidekicks to drop off the document. We do our banking on the internet, so why not our voting? If it works in Brazil and Serbia, surely….? Wishful thinking, eh? These are simple things, let alone a wholesale reform whereby votes are not wasted and we have a truly representative system. The problem at present is that the system delivers too small a majority to the winner, which means that flirting with smaller groups is too risky. In the long run this does not help us as a nation, but those who can change it are the ones who are most likely to lose out as a consequence…..unless a more comfortable majority can be delivered. Catch 22.

    Re. AD: I think that they score high on the sympathy scales but low on the confidence ones. True the system is stacked against them, but I agree with the post that said that they should have stuck to activism rather than the polling booth. A prediction: if AD do win a seat in a hung Parliament, I’m pretty sure that we would have a PN-MLP coalition, rather than either of the big boys allowing themselves to be held hostage by a single MP.

    I will vote PN because I firmly believe that MLP would only be a change for the worse. I will vote PN because there are too many familiar faces from the 80s lurking behind Alfred Sant, who is one of them himself. So am I only voting PN because of MLP? No, not at all. PN, warts and all, have consistently shown confidence in the Maltese people. They have delivered Europe, a strong economy and a coherent vision for the future. They have believed in us and continue to do so.

    Apologies for the meandering……

  25. PN believes in us to such an extent that they will lie through their teeth about anything under the sun, from AD’s position on abortion to the way our electoral system functions, from the reasons for Gonzi taking up the finance portfolio to the corruption and infighting that plague the party. And they are clever enough to cart out their most innocent-looking individuals to tell their most bald-faced of lies. Yes they are more or less liberal economically, but they play dirty politics same as anyone else. Do not be fooled by the rhetoric – PN believes in very little these days. If they believed in us they would be honest.

    Re coalitions: If there is a hung parliament and we end up with a grand coalition that would also be great. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see PN and MLP talking to each other rather than simply scoring political points?

  26. Justin, they used to be more or less liberal economically. Not any more. Blueskies initiative which will basically stifle any competition for broadband, resistance to low cost airlines to protect Airmalta, protection of Gozo Channel monopoly, now subsidising light bulbs. Do I have to continue?

  27. To add to Ivan’s comment: proposing price control on medicines in their electoral manifesto…

  28. Grouch, grouch, grouch – it’s like being at the bar in an old people’s home.

  29. @Daphne, it is the message that is important. If someone starts to give more weight to the messenger and his age than to the essence of the message itself, then it is that person that has a problem to solve. Even though almost 20 years have passed, the message of AD is as strong more than ever before, and as long as the messenger is someone who believes in the message, he could be 100 years old for all that matters.

  30. @Daphne, it is the message that is important, and not the messenger, and even less his age! If someone is shallow enough to give more weight to the latter, then it is he who has a problem to solve.

    Although almost 20 years have passed, the message of AD has never been as strong as it is today. And as long as the messenger is someone who believes in the message, he could be 100 years old for all that matters.

    Note: Sorry for posting twice, but I wasn’t ready yet.
    @Jacques, you should have a “Preview” option! 🙂

  31. I didn’t know that old people’s homes had bars. And they say that there’s nothing to look forward to.

    Good night.

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