Towards a decent society?

Patrick Tabone asked me whether I would be willing to publish a reply to recent positions taken by myself and David on a number of issue. I am publishing his article in full and am very pleased to give his point of view this space. It goes without saying that opinions in this article are Patrick’s and my publishing them does not mean that I am in any way in agreement. I will reply to some points today (later… too much work till 1600) and some in my last two articles in the J’Accuse Votes series. Here therefore is Patrick’s baptism of fire in the blogging world as a guest blogger.

Towards a Decent Society?
by Patrick Tabone

In the last couple of days David and Jacques have made two related arguments that deserve to be analysed.
They put the quest for ‘the decent society’ as the primary objective of the political process, and seem to conclude that a vote for either of the two major parties is not compatible with that objective. Jacques reaches this conclusion because he feels the two parties have blocked a move towards a fairer proportional representation system, and David because he feels that the whole establishment is so permeated by sleaze, favours and ‘hatred of the other’ that any vote for MLPN would simply serve to prop up a sick system that deserves to die. Jacques is therefore leaning towards an AD vote, even though he ‘doesn’t care much about’ them. David doesn’t yet say what he will do come March 8, but I guess it’s got to be one of the smaller parties or a no vote.

There’s something that feels strangely satisfying about this line of reasoning. Of course ‘the decent society’ should be our goal. And of course we clearly don’t have a decent society yet. Who can argue that our form of democracy doesn’t have it’s flaws, a too-high de facto threshold chief among them? And the ills that David describes are real, as is the need to address them. Surely the election gives us an opportunity to do so?

It’s worth analysing carefully; I think we all agree that a feeling alone isn’t enough to base something as important as a vote on.

Let’s take Jacques’ thesis first. The two parties have blocked a move towards proportional representation, meaning that, as Jacques put it, a vote for AD ‘has been rendered practically useless’, a ‘wasted vote’. Since it’s MLPN that has created this fact, MLPN should not profit from it. So vote for AD, wasted vote or not. Sounds good, but does it stand up to rational examination?

If it were rational it would need to lead to an improved situation, or at the very least to no deterioration in the status quo. In what way can a vote for AD improve the chance of electoral reform? As Jacques has seen clearly (see para above), the vote does not help AD get anyone elected – the experience of the last few elections, and the info coming from every survey is consistent. AD cannot and will not get anyone elected as things stand – that’s precisely why Jacques is pissed off at the system. Because it’s not fair to AD.

OK, it might not help AD elect anyone, but it would send a signal right? Well, let’s assume for argument’s sake a massive explosion in AD voters, because enough people take this advice; let’s assume that AD get 5% of the vote. This would be a big result for Alternattiva – they have never managed 2% in a general election, and only 0.7% in 2003; it’s also higher than any poll suggests is possible (though, tellingly, still nowhere remotely close to getting anyone elected). Since Labour’s 2003 vote can be expected to hold strong (as the Malta Today Surveys clearly shows), even a smaller switch than this would be enough to bring Labour to power. For a couple of weeks people might point to a higher than expected vote for AD – some would interpret it as a vote for green issues, some for rent law reform, some for electoral reform, some as a protest vote. But at the end of the day it’s a tiny percentage of the electorate and people would move on to the new reality – a Labour government, one that is certainly no friend of electoral reform in the sense that Jacques wants it.

So, the idea of withdrawing support for MLPN because it blocked electoral reform has in fact had the following consequences: it has helped elect the MLP (part of MLPN), has not helped AD elect anyone, and has not brought electoral reform any closer. If you prefer a Labour government to a PN one, that’s fine. However Jacques, for example, doesn’t; he feels that “no matter how much PN policy and strategy is in the shit, MLP policy is even for the worse”.

If anyone who feels the same way votes for AD for the purpose of achieving electoral reform, they do not get any closer to their objective, but they help deliver a government that they feel is second best of the two alternatives on offer.

With David’s argument it’s not electoral reform as such; it’s the entire establishment that is sick. So don’t vote for MLPN, the bedrock of that establishment. Whether you choose not to vote, or to vote for one of the small parties, the consequences will be the same as in the paragraphs above. If you voted to secure EU membership in 2003, then your attempt to abandon MLPN in facts helps create the small swing that is needed to elect the MLP – part of the very establishment you are trying not to support.

In the end, in both cases you don’t really get any closer to your goal (electoral reform or a message to the establishment); but you do help deliver a Labour Government.

Again, whether that is good or bad depends on your comparative analysis of the two big parties. Since it’s a big decision, one that so much, for so many, depends upon, it is important not to just make a sweeping statement that the two parties are just the same. Everyone needs to make their own judgement, trying to stand aside from our prejudices that David describes so well. As I’ve said elsewhere in this blog, my opinion after my own careful analysis of the campaigns, the electoral manifestos, the leaders, and especially the track records, makes me conclude that there is a clear difference between the two. It is possible to say that, David and Jacques, without demonising anyone, without scaring anyone, without bullying anyone.

I’m not going to try and make the arguments for one or the other here; I’ve made them elsewhere in the blog. I’m not even going to appeal to you to accept my analysis. But I am going to say that making that comparison for yourself is not a cop-out to the establishment; it’s the most important thing you will do all year. Your vote on Saturday helps create a new reality, and you should act so that it is the reality you are most happy with of the alternatives on offer.

SO. Am I saying that there is no way out of the MLPN stranglehold? No. But I am saying there’s no easy way out. We can’t wake up a few weeks before the election and say that the election must suddenly provide us with the answer after 44 years of independence. If David’s and Jacques’ objectives are important enough – and I believe they are – than they deserved to be pursued in a reasoned, determined and patient way. The readership of this blog, generally people with enquiring and independent minds, might be a good place to start. It’ll take ball-breaking, thankless, non-party-political work over many years until you can force the establishment to take notice and begin to change. You cannot wave a magic wand and expect it to happen in a few weeks; though in a few weeks you can light a spark as Jacques and David may have done through these pages.

In the meantime there’s a country to be managed, and who manages it matters very much to us all. Our vote on Saturday will elect one of two alternate governments, and if we have a preference between the two we should express it.

This rationalisation may be distasteful to many who feel that democracy should be more lofty and less calculating. But if you’ll forgive me using the much quoted line by Churchill, “Democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Whether it’s the widespread tactical voting in the UK, US Presidents like Dubya who gain power after losing the popular vote, sterile deadlocks in Belgium or chronic government instability in Italy, democracy is a very messy business.

But it’s very precious.


105 responses to “Towards a decent society?

  1. A vote for AD (irrespective of whether one votes on to any of the other parties) most probably will have no short-term benefit (although one cannot tell for sure – we’ll have to suspend our judgement now and not fulfill our own prophecy by reasoning: a vote for AD changes nothing – we do not vote for AD – therefore nothing changes.

    However, we are entitled to think long-term as well. If AD gain a good number of votes (even if they do not get elected), next time around, people unwilling to vote AD because the vote is “wasted” will perhaps be encouraged to give it a try. I will give a wild guess that many people do not vote AD precisely because they believe (perhaps correctly) that they won’t get elected anyway. But what if AD get a lot of votes, even if not a sufficient number of votes? The gap towards the number of votes required would be narrowed. Therefore, next time round, with a narrowed gap, people would be encouraged to believe that a vote for AD would not be wasted…and perhaps with a narrowed gap, sufficient people joining AD voters would make this true.

    Just a thought.

  2. Victor Laiviera

    If there is anybody here who has addressed me on Daphne’s blog and thinks that I did not answer, they should know that my replies on there are being censored.

  3. A simile has occured to me. The 2 main parties are like two big boys playing a perpetual game of tug of war. If you snip the rope in the middle they’ll fall back on their backsides. But while they’re both pulling at each other, they’re standing up, albeit in a constant struggle to stay up. Voting MLP or voting PN is simply a way to keep them up.

    In five years time nothing will have changed, and once again we will be told, “be careful, a vote for AD is foolish, etc etc.” This game is meant to last and last and last. That’s the whole point. There will be no change as long as we play along. It’s time to snip that rope right down the middle.


    A grassroots organisation is required. That truly represents the people. Led by a cross section of leaders WITH NO POLITICAL TIES. If such a group were to grow, given time, it could exert real pressure by organizing protests, sit-ins, a general destabilization of the status quo through real demonstrations of people power. I believe it could be done.

    Naturally, I’m going to be told that it won’t work. It’s pie in the sky. I don’t know. I really don’t know. Probably there are too many people who would rather prefer the tug of war. I for one am sick to the core of hearing about it. I am no longer interested.

  4. Claire Bonello

    Patrick thinks that the MLPN stranglehold is not easy to break. He seems to be all for breaking it but not during the election. This could arise from the fact that he works for former PN minister Joe Borg or perhaps he actually thinks that any effective sort of pressure (which does not involve vote loss) can be brought to bear upon the PN and MLP to act in a way which might make it more difficult for them to be elected. Having seen the vociferous forms of protest (rallies, letters to press, articles, legal challenges) on many issues and the major parties refusal to acknowledge these protests leads me to think that this is extremely improbable. Voting is the most (if not the only) effective form of expression or protest. We can philosophise about alternate realities till the cows come home but if we do what we’ve always done (vote for the MLPN stranglehold) we’ll get what we’ve always gotten (precisely the MLPN stranglehold). Oh, and please don’t tell me “this is not the right time” – it never is for exponents of the PN or MLP

  5. Well put, Patrick. However, for many – I’d say most, if not all – personal priorities are what matter and that’s the primary motivating factor when decisions are taken about whether to vote, how to vote, or who to vote for.

    For some, like yourself, personal priorities coincide with the common good you describe. For others, the means of achieving the common good you describe is in conflict with what they wish to achieve personally. That’s as true of someone voting for a party knowing that another will gain power in its stead as it is of those expecting to be rewarded by favours if ‘their’ party is elected.

    I’m not of the mindset that the management of a country can be divorced from the politics of parliamentary elections, but I’m aware that this is a belief system that many others subscribe to.

    People who vote for a party knowing that another will gain power instead are not necessarily ignoring the common good. It may well be that they have another version of what constitutes the common good. To them, voting for a new voice to parliament takes precedence over the political consequences of that decision. In other words, the common good of an additional voice in parliament to people who think in this way, is worth the price of risking mismanagement of the country.

    Whether or not that is a good thing depends on one’s point of view and ranking of priorities.

  6. Agreed Claire … election time is the only time the citizen has the power in his own hands … somewhere in between, all he can do is grumble and complain. But if come election time, the voters go back to their fold like sheep, then I’d rather be not explicit and obscene in describing what the shepherd will do with those complaints.

  7. Victor Laiviera

    Cora, why am I being censored on Daphne’s blog? Are you so afraid of my comments?

    So much for freedom of speech.

  8. Could be that you are being censored only because you have not posted comments ridiculing Alfred Sant and Carmel Caccopardo, both of whom have daughters. Of course, insulting these daughters’ father does not matter. Only GonziPN daughters matter.

  9. Victor, you’ve posted six comments regarding that blog in half an hour. This is Jacques’ blog. People here don’t give a damn about what’s going on in some other blog. Do you really want to publicize her blog over here?

  10. Victor

    Patrick Tabone’s taken the time to present an interesting argument. You could have the common courtesy to respond in kind rather than coming back with not one, but two, irrelevant responses.

    I had occasion to say this before, but in the face of your obstinacy it bears repeating:
    I am not the owner, administrator or moderator of

    You flatter yourself in imagining that I have any interest in censoring anything you have to say. Why would I? As I said in a comment on the blog you complain about, I don’t think it’s fair to censor you given the comic relief your comments provide.

    Of course, you could always start your own blog, but then you’d have to deal with another problem. To attract visitors, you need to be interesting rather than merely ridiculous.

    Give it a shot. I wish you luck.

  11. Victor. I think Keith has summed up what I want to say. I don’t care much about publicising or if it exists. It’s practically the same thing but different as Lewis Carroll would put it. Thing is there’s a discussion going on here and it seems that people like Cora, Claire, Keith and others would like to go on with it. If you still think your constant complaining ON THIS BLOG that ANOTHER BLOG is censoring you helps your cause feel free to keep posting. Having said that I find the exercise as useless as giving a politician a journalists’ ID card… or insulting people indiscriminately simply for having an opinion that is different… I think you get the drift.

  12. As for the discussion some very interesting points are being raised and I particularlz appreciate Cora’s argument about the common good which frames the dilemma some (like KZT in todaz’s Times) are facing. Slowly we seem to be understanding the other side a bit more…. progress progress. This wouldnot have happened if the other side was not left to put its argument clearly on the blog. More food for thought. I’ll butt in with my own thoughts later… when this bloody pile of papers and cases on my desk decides to evaporate!

  13. Edward Fenech

    Patrick, how disappointing that 4 years after people like you have not changed! I voted for Europe to be free. You remain a political prisoner.

    We all make our choices….i choose to be free…..

  14. David Friggieri

    Cora – I’d put it slightly differently.

    Some of us are absolutely convinced that the common good (I prefer the term decent society) is being trampled upon by the main players in the current system even though we may agree that A will ensure a better management of the country (as you put it) than B. And this is very much NOT a question of personal priorities.

  15. The pull of the blog and it’s comments. I risk missing deadlines but here’s a comment for Ed fenech and Claire.

    The issue of the voter in a dilemma deserves respect. Respect because these voters have all pulled out of the MLPN mentality and have the will to vote for a change. I will bet my last euro that with Sant out of the way they would vote AD sans hesitation. That seems to make them AD voters through and through and not pecore smarrite from the PN fold. Now I have a problem with the language which the AD uses with these voters as much as a I have a problem with PN’s aggressive Savonarola like accusations amounting to “Stupid Traitors”.

    it should be clear by now that the hesitation to vote different is not because they hesitate to leave the clutches of PN but because the pragmatic side of the decision is a Sant in power. The “prisoner” and “freedom” argument does not work. I think the honest exposition of the consequences is the best solution. Everyone is aware of the most realistic of outcomes in this particular 2008 game. Now the options are:

    Is your priority the change in the system or keeping Sant out? in both cases even the fact that you hesitate should be respected by parties such as Alternattiva. it means that the emancipation is there. If the revulsion of a Sant in government is too strong (and let’s face it the PN know that it is their one and only weapon of conviction with these people – a weapon they have used oh so wrongly in w ay they will come to regret in the future),,, then the voter should not be left with a sense of guilt for voting pragmatically.

    In short AD promoters should not fall in the PN trap. Respect the voters’ decision. you should be cajoling them by explaining that the most reasonable compromise in a pragmatic vote is the number 1 for the useless PN candidate and 2 for AD. that’s my take. I’m off to draft a letter in french (boring) be back as soon as I can.


    How can it be the “common good” if it’s imposed on you by the two main parties?

    They keep moving the goal posts to make it almost impossible for any other party to even elect one MP never mind form a coalition.

  17. Edward Fenech

    I respect any electoral decision, and everyone’s voting preference. I can only speak for myself. I spent all my life choosing between the devil I know and the one I don’t, until i realised that when you are choosing between two devils you must be in hell. The first thing you do when you are in hell is get out!

    I voted for the EU to give our country political stability and so not to live in fear ever again.

    There are many who will vote for AD and give us their first preference. They are very welcome. Many others are still afraid, they can give us another preference. They are also welcome. The vast majority will give us nothing. I respect that as well.

    All of us at AD are serene. We have campaigned positively without getting into the hiedous mud-slinging on both sides. We will await the result and bow our heads.

    Democracy is what counts.

  18. Victor Laiviera

    Cora, why don’t you give the readsrs the chance to decide for themselves what is relevant and what is not?

    It only takes a little guts.

  19. Chapeau Edward. From my point of view that is what distinguishes and AD politician from an MLPN one. We got a straight answer in a matter of minutes. One that does not use FEAR as a weapon and one that respects the intelligence of the voters and the quandaries with which they are faced. I say this as an independent observer (whatever others may think) and in the spirit of the decent politics that I aspire for.

  20. Victor Laiviera

    Jacques, I am truly sorry to invade your blog with references to other blogs. Please believe that my posts were not meant as a compleint, but as information.

    And you can never have too much of that.

  21. Victor Laiviera

    Edward, I assume (no, to be fair I know) that AD is in favour of a whistleblower’s act.

    What, in your opinion, distinguishes “mudslinging” from ‘whiste blowing’?

    I hope you will not say that the former is done by the MLP and the latter only by AD.

  22. Conrad Portanier


    I am not sure you are the same Patrick I know. But well written. That is the spirit with which I am going to vote for PN this Saturday.

  23. I can answer that question myself, Victor.

    Mud slinging is throwing accusations (not all of which would necessarily be true) in the hope that some will be believed.

    Whistleblowing is knowing facts (having proof, due to one being an insider) and making them public.

  24. To blow the whistle you have to be an insider.

    An outsider can only sling mud.

  25. Edward Fenech

    Mudslinging is about making insinuations or allegations and trying to lead people into conclusions. Whistleblowing is about exposing facts and letting people arrive to their own conclusions.


    Would a decent society, after taking note of the report on page 5 of the respective Malta Today issue, be willingly to tolerate Charles Mangion and Karmenu Vella as ministers in an eventual MLP government?

    Further Reference:

  27. David Friggieri

    Hi Conrad – I’m sure you are the Conrad Portanier I know. Kemm jista jkun hemm Conrad Portanirijiet?

    I take it, then, that you also concur with Patrick’s admission that our society is far from decent and that the current set-up has conspired to make it indecent.

    That’s already a basis to start changing things.

    O capisco male, do you just concur with Patrick’s pragmatic conclusion which (taken alone) leaves us at square one.

  28. Matthew Aquilina

    Charles Mangion & Karmenu Vella have alread filed a libel suit according to Sunday’s News and they said they presented documents that showed they declared their earnings.

    This is in 1997. We went back 11 years of a sudden.

  29. Mr. Edward Fenech,

    How would you classify the new journalistic Chateaubriand orbiting around Charles Mangion and Karmenu Vella?

    Is it mudslinging? Is it whistleblowing? Is it catholic-christian benevolence? Is it election countenance?

  30. Mr. Aquilina,

    Could you kindly advise on the exact date when Mangion and Vella declared their earnings to the Department of Inland Revenue?

    I have not read that it was 1997.

  31. Matthew Aquilina

    I have not said they declared their earning in 1997. I do not know when. I was referring to when this alleged ‘scandal’ took place.

    Check this link:

  32. The clip is not conclusive.

    No dates were mentioned. No details were offered.

    Mr. Aquilina, unfortunately, you present yourself as a biased charlatan.

  33. Mefistu, jekk ghandek xi nformazzjoni mur ghand il-kummissarju

  34. BigFoot,

    Jien naqra l-gazzetti kollha. Dik hi l-infurmazzjoni li ghandi.

  35. Guys, the JPO plot has just thickened. Sant asked Commissioner of Police (who is suddenly no longer a paraventu btw) to investigate Mistra case. He came out of the depot claiming the Commissioner told him that the Prime Minister had already asked for an investigation.

    Quiz time: why did the PM not tell us himself that he authorised an investigation into an irregularity involving one of his party’s candidate, just four days before an election?

  36. Matthew Aquilina

    The link was nothing but to confirm that they claimed they did declare their earnings according to them and they presented a libel case. I AM NOT THEIR LAWYER.

    Biased charlatan? Are you related to a certain clown from Bidnija? Or have you become one of her elves reading bible long articles of poo.

    As someone just said. Go to the police if you have any information. Stop trying to defend Mr. Cry Baby Wuss Pullicino Orlando by false accusations of 11 years ago. I don’t believe a word that ‘softie’ minister says. This is not a damage limitation excercise. Trying to divert attention from his case and humiliation cause he is proven guilty by documents? Bullcrap.

    I guess under 10 years of PN government, if they have proof of these allegations they would have done something about it don’t you think?

  37. Forsi Gonzi nesa, bhal ma kien nesa li ddiskuta r-rapport

  38. Matthew Aquilina

    I only simply said that they argued that they had declared their earnings and have proven documents and took them to court and filed a libel case and I know I saw a clip somewhere on YouTube that shows them saying this and it happened to be a clip from ONE TV. Whether what they say or not it is not my problem. IT’S THEIR PROBLEM.

  39. Matthew Aquilina

    Whether what they say or not is the TRUTH is not my problem.


  40. Mr. Aquilina,

    I am glad to note that you do not have more qualified arguments and I take your last message as a concession of defeat.

  41. and question 2: did gonzi tell even JPO that he ordered this investigation?

  42. Matthew Aquilina

    What is there to be defeated about? Amuse me.

  43. “bible long articles of poo”


  44. Matthew,

    I am not here to amuse you. I frequent this blog to learn and to discuss at a level, which Jacques René Zammit would be proud of.

  45. Matthew Aquilina

    So am I, unless someone for no real reason accuses me of being a biased charlatan.

  46. I hate to generalize, but it is highly unlikely that any of those people who are supporting their decision to vote PN in the way Patrick Tabone is would ever vote MLP anyway, whatever the situation may be. They vote PN come what may because voting MLP is something they just cannot bring themselves to do. Which is why an AD vote is so anathema to them. Because of what it may lead to. MLP could have the most charismatic leader imaginable, They’d still find an excuse to vote PN. Now while this is neither here nor there, what I find despicable is that they fail to face up to their inbuilt prejudice and just admit it, and instead concoct this whole facade of having built up a whole house of cards of rationalizations behind their reason to vote PN. Guys just admit it. You’re PN voters through and through.

  47. Matthew,

    I regret to say that I had my reason for the respective remark.

  48. Raphael, nahseb JPO sar jaf nhar il-hadd. forsi ghalhekk beda jibki

  49. Calm down Matthew. We’re all being accused of all manner of heinous crimes in this election. I know it’s rich coming from someone who has lost his temper in blog posts at least three times in the past week, but you’re going to need all the patience you can muster in the coming days and possibly even weeks.It’s going to be a rough ride. Not for the faint-hearted, etc.

  50. Matthew Aquilina

    I accept your opionion and views in whatever way you want to see it. No problem here.

    Just can’t stand someone who accuses me of being biased without valid reason, when the one accusing me is himself/herself biased.

  51. Matthew,

    There are times, when silly remarks really amuse me. You have just amused me.

  52. Matthew Aquilina Says:
    March 4, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    “I accept your opionion and views in whatever way you want to see it. No problem here.

    Just can’t stand someone who accuses me of being biased without valid reason, when the one accusing me is himself/herself biased.”

    Above is damned analogous to JPO’s tears.

  53. Alex it seems you don’t hate to generalise at all. What you just wrote is poor and insulting, not to mention childish and pointless. There are MANY people out there who crave change and a blast of fresh air but don’t necessarily [for very their own valid reasons] see that happening in Sant’s party. Many of us debating in this blog are not ‘PN voters through and through’ at all and have no ‘inbuilt prejudice’. You should have more respect for people’s views and listen to their valid arguments – both ways – rather than make such dumb statements.

  54. Matthew Aquilina

    I am glad to have amused you. Helps relieve election-fever tension.

  55. Matthew Aquilina

    Analogous to JPO’s tears?

    Nah, I don’t shed tears to get votes from the faint-hearted.

  56. I accept views and opinions someone has to share about politics, though I might not agree with them at all.

    I do not accept someone calling me names.

    What has one got to do with the other?

  57. Order order. Guys, let’s think of an anger management exercise. How about keeping a plain paper next to you and making a stick mark on it every time you would have liked to make a negative remark about someone? Once you reach ten just post the following phrase on j’accuse “I MUST NOT INDULGE IN GRATUITOUS INSULTS BECAUSE I AM AWARE IT WILL NOT GET ME ANYWHERE”. In full Bart Simpson style….

    There. Now feel free to take the piss at this comment… I’m glad to oblige as your Agony Aunt punch bag.

    Peace. J.

  58. I MUST NOT INDULGE… it’s too long.

  59. Jacques, I can see why many voters are facing a dilemma – in that they want a change in the system, would relish a less divisive and more productive form of politics, but are afraid that any step they may take towards this goal might end up being of benefit to the MLP. As stated before in this blog, it’s a question of priorities. There are people who view the necessity of ending the two-party stranglehold as being their first priority. There are others who think that this should be put on hold until the Labour Party has revamped itself. I fall in the former category. Others have a diferent opinion. That’s fine. There’s no way that I would want to insult them into submission of mine or any other views. You point out, maybe we should be arguing for cross-party voting to break the stranglehold. Again I’m all for it. It’s the PN and MLP that isn’t, so we’re back to square one again

  60. Why don’t you guys just admit who are you going to vote to and give a couple of valid points as to your choice in a nutshell instead. Cause a lot of you seem to be truly torn as to whether they should vote AD fullstop or whether they should vote PN on account of their family’s obvious alliances with the party? The more alibis you seem to be digging for and the lenghtier the arguments the more likely it’s looking that come Saturday you will do exactly what you did whenever you voted. That is vote PN.

    Antonia I think Alex’s post is more than valid and less offensive than you would like me to believe.

    With all due respect to you mind you

  61. dispassionate

    Cross-party voting and tactical voting could be two vital keys to the manner in which this intriguing election develops.

    On cross-party voting: in the last EP electiosn I recall that apart from the 23,000 first-preference votes, AD also garnered around 7,000 second preferences. It is fair to say that these 30,0000 voters will once again opt for cross-party voting, with AD featuring high in their preference ( though first prefences will go down by at least half due to the obvious factors). It would also be fair to assume that a huge proportion of these 30,000 voters orginate from one or two particular districts. When you take into account that only around 3,000 votes are needed in one district for a seat in parliament, one starts to understand the reasons behind the change in the PM’s tone on the coalition issue (basically – if you can’t beat them, join them).

    What about tactical voting: each AD first and second preference voter should ideally enter into an agreement with a PN voter they can trust, whereby AD voters continue on PN candidates only in return for the PN voter doing likewise. This could help eliminate or limit the damage done by the PN block voting tactic, whereby PN voters vote all PN candidates en bloc, without continuing on AD, resulting in a repeat of the EP outcome. If the PN hierarchy is too proud to foster this sense of co-operation, perhaps it’s up to the grass roots to lead by example. AD may be PN’s last lifeline to power – and the PN may be AD’s stepping-stone to breaking the stalemate in Maltese politics. A win-win situation for both involved, and let’s face it, neither of them have much to lose in the current circumstances.

  62. clive demicoli

    I respect all voters who vote because of conviction. I do not (and should not) have any qualms about somebody voting AD because he or she believes that AD is the best choice. What I do have a problem with, is people who plan to vote AD to “punish” the Nationalists. This i cannot understand. I sincerely believe that the party is not Lawrence Gonzi or Joe Saliba. I believe that the party is the voters who vote for it. If you do not want Jesmond Mugliett, or Toni Abela the answer is simple. Do not vote for him. Vote for new people. The reality of the situation is that voting AD to punish PN is helping Alfred Sant… and that is too big a price to pay!

  63. Malcolm Buttigieg

    Raphael, there surely must be a fundamental difference between what the present PM and the present OL asked the commissioner to investigate.

    The following are conjectures:

    1. Dr Gonzi asked the commissioner to investigate among others how Dr Sant obtained the documents. An exercise in finding the mole!

    2. Dr Sant asked the commissioner to investigate the case and to protect the mole.

    Nevertheless, if there is a corruption case and it is being investigated, I would not shout out loud and make political mileage out of it. Useful evidence could be lost in the process.

  64. 1. Dr Gonzi asked the commissioner to investigate among others how Dr Sant obtained the documents. An exercise in finding the mole!

    Is that a fact? I must have missed it. And times article no longer accessible. Where did you get that info from?

  65. Clive: If these disgruntled Nationalists are determined to vote AD, it’s obvious that they’re nowhere as scared as you about having Sant as Prime Minister.

  66. Malcolm Buttigieg

    I stated its a conjecture Raphael, mine nobody else’s! 🙂

  67. Malcolm Buttigieg

    ‘I don’t like the fact that the prime minister referred the case to the police. He’s a lawyer, so he knows that there’s no criminal case involved. By reporting it to the police after he had already reported it to the MEPA auditor, he was just embroiling himself in Sant’s weasel game.’


  68. David Friggieri

    Interesting comments from Claire and dispassionate, depicting the dilemma and a possible solution very clearly.

    Which set me thinking.

    I wonder what The Father of Lateral Thinking would advise Gonzi to do at this stage.

    Ladies and gentlemen…


    My hunch is that ‘swallow your pride, talk to AD, it’s a win-win situation’ would feature in the conversation.

    Allez guys, Malta gave the world Lateral Thinking. Let’s use it wisely!

  69. Matthew Aquilina

    Another document has been revealed by Jason Micallef showing a letter sent in 2005 to Dr. Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando to notify him about the Mistra Night Club developments. I couldn’t see the letter well yet but I could make out that there was the title Mistra Night Club on top and the letter started with ‘Dr. Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando….’.

    This man is caged. He better just come out and admit he knew about it.

  70. Sorry malcolm didn;t notice that line…

  71. Malcolm Buttigieg

    Matthew, Mistra’s case is now a matter of a police investigation. It is my view, that the matter has already been exhausted and if the media keeps harping about the issue, it will eventually backfire.

    I wonder what will be the next torpedo!

  72. clive demicoli

    Kieth, well they should. Without resorting to any scaremongering tactics Alfred Sant’s record is pretty dismal. The guy is still saying that the referendum was won by partnership, for Christ’s sake.

  73. Matthew Aquilina

    Clive Demicoli whatever happens Next Saturday we will keep breathing, the sun will keep baking us in summer, life goes on as usual and we stil have got to go to work in the morning. Do not let people like Sleepy Hollow from Bidnija cast you under their spell.

  74. Malcolm Buttigieg


    Resorting to lateral thinking at such a late stage, 4 days before the general election is just a sign of panic.

    The wiriting must surely be on the wall, and in captial letters.

  75. Clive, “well they should” insinuates “well they should think as I think and vote as I’ll vote.”

  76. clive demicoli

    No it does not kieth.. Everyone should evaluate what his actions are going to translate into. My initial premise is that if you want to vote AD because you believe in their policies then you should. The people who want to punish PN are equally if not more scared of Sant.

    matthew…Sleepy hollow..hehe.. I agree with her on some things and don’t on others.

  77. David asks what Edward Debono would advise. I’d like to know. Probably it would be something on the lines of that suggested by dispassionate.

  78. Patrick Tabone

    Edward: I’m only prisoner to my 4 month old kid and to my alarm clock. I respect your choices, but despite what you say later, you don’t seem to respect mine. A pity, but I’ll still sleep soundly tonight (both the above jailers permitting). Peace.

    Claire: Yes I worked for Joe Borg when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs; amongst other things I was lucky enough to be a member of the negotiating team during the accession talks. Proud of it too. Your point is? Wouldn’t it have been nicer to address the arguments than the person making them? Whatever.

    Victor Laiviera: May I show solidarity with you during your merciless persecution by The Nameless Moderator. You are taking the piss right? Oh…

    Conrad: Orrajt gbin?

    Alex, Mario: You both assume I’m a PN voter and always will be. I will vote for PN in this election, as I did in the last one. I pray for the day when I can vote for a rejuvenated, modern Labour Party that has re-invented itself. It’s this lack of a credible Labour Party that is the most urgent problem in our democracy today, and I refuse to act in a way next Saturday that will reward it. I don’t expect you to believe me, but your incapacity to do so is sad.

    I come down to Malta tomorrow, and am not connected there, so that’s pretty much it from me. It’s been fun, ciao.

  79. I’ve just found out that voting documents have to be collected by Thursday at midnight at the latest. Any particular reason why someone arriving from overseas on friday should be disenfranchised? and forgive my ignorance of electoral law, but is this standard practice?

  80. Yes it is standard practice. What doesn’t make sense is that we need voting dokuments to vote, when with all of us have ID cards. All you need to do is present yourself at the voting place, show your I, get instructed on which room you have to go to to vote and thats it. But why save money when we can waste it.

  81. Victor Laiviera

    No, Patrick, I was not joking. My remarks on Daphne’s blog are being censored – even when some other poster asks me a direct question.

    I’ve decided to let them enjoy talking to themselves.

  82. Raphael, it gets worse. People who cannot collect their voting document are now being told by Elcom that they should cancel their travel arrangements. Otherwise they will have to pay for the flight, after they have made plans, possibly taken days off work etc.

    I think that the argument that people will have to pay extra is fallacious for two reasons:

    (i) AirMalta has absolutely no right to check who has voted and who has not.

    (ii) The stated conditions for the subsidy are the following:

    ‘These travel arrangements will be for the period Friday 29 February 2008 to Sunday 16 March 2008, both days inclusive and are valid for:

    (a) eligible voters, including those married to foreigners, studying, working or undergoing medical treatment abroad; and

    (b) dependants of the persons referred to in (a) above.

    Persons to whom this directive applies must be eligible voters whose names appear in the last Electoral Register.’


    Disclaimer tat-taparsi avukat BB: the above is not legal advice!

  83. Patrick Tabone

    I’m sure they miss you terribly Vic!


    Same shit, different day.

    PNers will vote PN AND tell the AD voters not to vote AD as if it’s any of their bloody business. Of course first they lull them to sleep with their gasbagging then scare them to death by telling them that if they vote AD or heaven help them MLP, on Sunday Malta will sink to the bottom of the Med, the sun will stop shining and JPO will stop crying.

    Democratic society guys, free country, one man one vote and all that.

    As Yosemite Sam would say…Blowhards is stoopid.

  85. Anyone saw PM and Sant tonight? any thoughts you would like to share?

  86. Di-ve had a genius moment. They decided to do some site maintenance so streaming is unavailable – those of us who don’t have Maltese telly missed it. Any news (preferably objective) would be much appreciated.

  87. Till then some light amusement from one of Daphne’s commentators. No prizes for spotting the contradictions (or the spelling mistakes):

    ‘While not being sure about voting earlier on in the campain, after seeing what happened with Jeff Pullicino Orlando i can’t remain passive.
    It is personal, Un founded attacks like these which make me want to keep sant out of power. If only every politician was half the man Jeff is…
    Keep it up Daph.. freedom of speach at its best

    by the way, i’m a Hamallu who booed sant and asked him to shut up… AND PROUD!’

  88. Sorry to use this space as a notice board, but here I go anyway. Here’s an as yet unaccepted comment I tried to post on Daphne’s blog:

    Justin BB on Mar 4, 2008

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Andrew I hope that you recognise the irony of applauding freedom of speech (i) on a blog that only allows comments that agree with the author’s point of view, and (ii) following up your applause with a proud statement that you tried to shut somebody else up.

    Your claim to having been undecided earlier in the campaign and only having changed your mind following the JPO saga is also somewhat hard to swallow when you were booing and shutting AS up on 18 February.

  89. Justin, you did not miss much. I think both leaders know that the writing is on the wall and probably they know what it is. Have a feeling that it will be a boring few days (at least compared to the last few)

  90. Victor Laiviera

    Good luck, Justin. But don’t hold your breath. The champions of democracy on Daphne’s blog operate a very fine filter.

  91. Justin BB, di-ve would not be streaming for the coming week. Apparently a decision taken by the Nationalist Party to stop expats from seeing that a vote for AD is the only sensible way.

  92. At the risk of pissing JRZ off completely, one more thing about Daphne’s blog: she did accept my comments and I am now eating humble pie.

  93. Rupert, since the politicians don’t seem to be offering much fodder, I’ll offer some of my own. The debate over stipends, healthcare etc misses the point of what the issues really are. The parties are busy accusing one another of wanting to remove this benefit and wanting to tax the other, when really we should be having a mature debate about whether or not we should have those benefits in their current form.

    Several months ago I argued that the stipend reform that I had supported back when I was in SDM actually makes very little sense (see here: Now the politicians are competing over who would best safeguard stipends when they should really be arguing about ways of making stipends more effective. Rather than the government giving students loads of money to buy the same computers and books every year, it should ensure that they have everything they need in a well-stocked library and state of the art labs.

    My students in Aberdeen (and myself since I am a student too) do not all own copies of every standard text, but they can get every book they need in the Heavy Demand section of the library. They can also access hundreds of journals and specialised literature that is unavailable in Malta due to a lack of funds. As for computers, they do not all own a PC, but they have 24 hour access to new computers in the library and the labs. Doesn’t it make more sense for money to be invested in having state of the art equipment and a wide array of resources, rather than every student being given money to buy books and computers that will be outdated in no time at all?

    Freeing up resources that are now being wasted on the smart card would likely also allow government to give a maintenance grant that is indexed to the cost of living, rather than being stuck in 1998.

    We do not have this debate in Malta because the political parties are held captive to the status quo. They must all scramble for the middle ground instead of articulating a decent vision. When they do not discuss issues, all that is left is mud.

  94. Justin, the same argument applies to the pinl-card system in use in the national health service. This was meant to be a means tested solution for those who do not afford medicines, and yet the whole system is being totally abused. Same goes to the boarding out process.

  95. You’re wrong about ‘gratuitous insults getting people nowhere’, Jacques. Gratuitous insults won Sant the government in 1996, and he’s hoping they will do the same for him on Saturday.

    Keith Chircop: don’t worry – I don’t need you to publicise what you call ‘HER blog’. You’ll be thrilled to know that is averaging 13,500 hits a day.

  96. Justin – I don’t accept or refuse comments. I have a moderator to do that job, with strict instructions not to accept racial slurs, vulgarity, immoderate swearing, and undesirables. Refusing to accept comments of this nature has nothing to do with censorship and everything to do with keeping the blog attractive. You are not an undesirable, and oddly, neither is Victor Laiviera.

  97. As I said here and on your blog – I am eating humble pie. Sorry about that.

  98. Why, you wanted me to call it ‘HIS blog’?

  99. Matthew Aquilina

    She might be a dragqueen, you never know 😛

  100. “Keith Chircop: don’t worry – I don’t need you to publicise what you call ‘HER blog’. You’ll be thrilled to know that is averaging 13,500 hits a day.”

    Minn fuq dar Jacques hehehehhe … x’ma jinharaqx il-Jacques tieghi mwa mwa

    Sa issa l-web-clone ta’ Daphne gabar 574 unique visitors daily. Hits ma naghtix kashom hafna ghax anke’ spammers huma hits. Imma just for the record: ftit inqas minn 8,000 a day.

  101. Matthew, by “her” blog I wanted to differentiate hers from that other blog

  102. Victor Laiviera

    Justin, thanks for your intervention of Daphne’s blog. It may just have worked, and I have been admitted with the good and the great and allowed to post. Let’s see how long it lasts.

    And no, you don’t have to eat any pie – humble or otherwise.

  103. Hello Victor, I notice that you were among the great and the good many times on the blog you mention. It’s interesting that you think it’s your name that may have led to any of your comments being left out, rather than the content and presentation of the comments themselves. One of the comments published was almost illegible because of its atrocious syntax and spelling. Any of the ones you claim were left out must have been beyond belief.

    Instead of cluttering up the dicussion here too, I suggest you open up your own blog where you can publish whatever you wish untramelled by the necessity of keeping a discussion sane and constructive. That would short circuit your paranoiac and self-important assumption that whatever you have to say is so hot that someone, somewhere wishes to silence you.

    I’ve scrolled back through your comments here and have not found a single one that is relevant to what Patrick Tabone said in his blog. Do you have any opinion on what Patrick Tabone said or do you see this as just another platform for you to attract attention to yourself?

  104. Justin, I think you’ll be able to watch streaming television from Malta here:

  105. At the fosos this evening rumours were that the PN will lose by anything up to 13,000 votes, and this is from PN diehards.

    Daphne, do you realise that the more hits your blog gets, the more voters will drift off from the PN?

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