The Real King Makers

As the Nationalist party breaks a day of suspense with the announcement of a Nationalist victory (and Labour is still reluctant to concede defeat although Maltastar has announced it), we have witnessed quite a few fingers being pointed to the voters for change during the last few hours. It was to be expected but sadly for the finger pointers they seem not to be aware that the biggest winner in this election is the argument in favour of a real change.

The indication given by Joe Saliba is that the relative majority enjoyed by the nationalist party is of 1,200 votes. Rent-a-pundits on Net TV have been quick to point out that this is not the first time that such a low margin has been registered – 1981 and 1950 being two other low margin wins. Which does not really mean that there is nothing to criticise about a very small majority but rather means that the system allows such an uncomfortable situation to happen very often.

In the light of the need for change movement that has been gathering during election time, the first, early analysis is that now more than ever it is evident that the need for a new politics is being felt. The people have spoken and it is understandable that the party that in the words of Lawrence Zammit won on penalties feels the need to relax  and release the tension. When the beer drinking and back tapping is over we will see how well the greater of the two parties who garnered less than 50% of the votes can read the signs.

For the signs are now there : added on to the pre-electoral admission of a faulty system that disenfranchises voters and that never gives a clear picture of the real will of the electorate. We had the large number of voters who failed to pick up their vote which must also be factored into the equation when considering those who for some reason or another are not comfortable with voting in this system.

What are the signs? Well for a party that would not have been comfortable to govern in coaltion with another party that gathered at least 3,800 votes to merit a seat in parliament it is now sending some confused signs. So you are uncomfortable that the 3,800 top-up to form a government would be some sort of dictatorship of a minority but when you have 1,200 votes difference over the ones you consider as mortal enemies in opposition you feel like you represent the whole Maltese nation? Am I the only one to feel that there is something wrong in that equation?

Is not this weird sense of justice all the more compounded by the fact that we will have in all probability a government of a minority? Do not forget that the Nationalist party now officially represents less than 50% of the electorate and it is only thanks to a constitutional provision that it can form a government.

The only way for the Nationalists to sit comfortably in their parliamentary seats for the next four years will be for them to humbly accept that this election should be a lesson – that they are not the popular party that they claim to be and that its time for some spring cleaning. Flimkien kollox possibli sounds hollow when that Flimkien is made to represent less than half of the voting population.

I start yelling the warnings from now (and I call on all those who spoke about the time for such discussion being between elections).

 – Ignore this need for change at your own risk. – 

In the meantime Labour and AD have a lot of soul searching to do. AD risked the nightmare situation for a couple of hours this afternoon. They would never have been forgiven by an already blinkered crowd had they managed to get Labour into government by electing Harry. Labour will need to really dig deep and have the perfect chance for a start. If they effect a radical change fast enough and build a party around policies they could even be in time to take up the banner of reform.

From party funding to party media ownership to electoral reform. It is now that the forces of the movement of change can start working and create the right environment for a new beginning. The result does not spell doom for an opposition because a rational nationalist government will surely not toy with provoking more people out of arrogance or the insulting tomfoolerey which almost risked it its new mandate this time round.

Le Roi est mort! Vive le Roi!


46 responses to “The Real King Makers

  1. just changed its version! It’s no longer “PN wins election, Gonzi gets 5 more years” but “PN claims victory; Labour says result still in the balance”. The folks at Mile End should coordinate things a bit better.

  2. Indeed the Daphnites are pointing their fingers at the so-called “disgruntled Nationalists” at the moment, only to tone it down by “a forgive them and offer a beer”. I can say I am one of them. I do not feel comfortable with either party, and I don’t need anybody’s beer or forgiveness. Does that mean that my vote should automatically vote for PN? If PN wins with such a slim majority, I’m happy. If others like me had to do as the Daphnites are saying I should have done, maybe the PN wouldn’t have obtained this obvious message from it’s electorate: “Hey we still prefer you from MLP headed by Dr. Alfred Sant but please clean up your act!” I think the PN knows now, that its majority hangs on a thread and that it should be more cautious. More of the same attitude and a new MLP leader will probably spell “opposition” come 2013. That being said, I’m not sad that the PN won. A slim PN victory might trigger some soul searching which I doubt whether a slim MLP victory would have. So I hope that PN clean up their act and MLP do a major overhaul of their party. The country desperately needs this!

  3. Gold, do you really give a shit about the Daphnites?

  4. You’re right, I shouldn’t. Daphnites don’t struggle to change the world, they struggle to keep it as it is.

  5. If there ever was a definition of the word ‘quandary’, this is surely it.

  6. They have every right to think they should keep the world as it is if it suits them fine. Their problem is thinking everyone should see it their way.

  7. David Friggieri

    Good result. The better of the two appears to have won the day and the biggest possible avenues for change are now open. Let’s just hope that we’re not in for a nasty, potentially explosive surprise over the next few hours.

    Prediction: punditry over next weeks/months WILL focus on what this result means for big parties vs. new voices.

    And a reply to The Democratic Daphne Party (written before the election, posted now, still hugely relevant) to keep in your pocket when you encounter any beer-wielding Daphnes. Nazdarovja!

    “Vote Harry, Get Freddy (Because We Really, Really Don’t Want to Play Ball)”

    According to a perverse logic and months of intellectual bullying, the potential AD voter is led to believe that it’s somehow his/her fault if Freddy gets elected. If Fredu Sant is really the chaotic bumbler, the potential spanner in the works, the devil incarnate, the country’s approaching plague that PN sharp-shooters make him out to be, why does the PN appear to be ready to sacrifice the ‘common good’ on the altar of pride and prejudice towards AD? Surely, the common good is good because it’s common. It could have been very simple but it would have taken an ounce of humility over the past 5 years. You guys got 23, 000 votes in the MEP election. Respect, we recognize that that’s more than enough to swing it. Your party may be small but we won’t piss on you if you have TWO (not one) potential swing votes in your hands. We agree, and have agreed, on a number of issues. Big issues for that matter: Europe and the environment. Not all things, sure. But let’s cooperate, let’s talk, let’s see how we can find a way forward. Coalitions don’t simply materialize out of nowhere, they are built and negotiated before an election takes place, depending on circumstances. After all we’ve made pacts with other big and small players in the past. Maybe not the Devil. But certainly the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, the hunters and fat cat contractors. But No, No bloody way. It’s winner takes all in this fair town. We’re going to antagonize you mother-fu****. We’re going to scare the shits out of your voters, we’re going to insult you and denigrate you, we’re even going to turn you into hate figures if it suits our noble purpose. Savonarolas, traitors, baby killers, liberal elite, erbat iqtates. It’s YOUR fault if we get Freddy. It’s certainly not OUR fault for simply loving the winner takes all approach. We even expect you to bare the brunt if Freddy gets elected.

    Well, guys, bad news. We’ve had enough of slash and grab politics. We’ve had enough of winner takes all. No more fear in this fair town.

  8. outloudandproud

    I take off my Master & Commander of the Universe helmet and salute you GR for your sharp-shooter comment: “A slim PN victory might trigger some soul searching which I doubt whether a slim MLP victory would have. ” I hope the Reds (I mean the Pinkies, being New Labour and all) act upon this clarion call for a massive transmission overhaul. So far, this election has been a case of “Gentlemen, start your engines!” and the MLP crew wind up the crankshaft of their rust bucket. Out with the obsolete; make way for better representation of the interests of the country’s workforce, or concede redundancy.
    A young relative of mine visiting Malta came back from Sliema tonight and recounted what she had overheard from her street-partying pals: Labourites are beer-chugging thugs! Labourites want to build docking stations for boat people and set up taxi ranks for camels. Etc. Such diatribe from the children of the Enlightened!
    As for a PN govt engaging in some soul searching….umm, excuse me but why should it? When almost half the country has willfully condoned and acknowledged that deception, embezzlement of taxpayers’ money, nepotism, fraudulence, are standard practice in govts? What are we going to do: wag fingers and say, now clean up your act, or else!? or else WHAT?? Oh yes I forgot, we have blog power with which to strike fear in the hearts of our politicians!
    Gonzi himself might be genuinely receptive to some soul-cleansing seeing as nothing emerged in the election’s grandstand mudslinging to tarnish him personally; he may be genuinely sick of the muck his ministers are knee deep in…BUT didnt he nominate someone as his future Head of the Dept. of Tree Huggers who turns out to have been up to his EYEBALLS in muck?
    When such soiled goods were being offered to the people during an election campaign, are we expected to believe that things will be different post-election? Well of course one thing will be different-they wont be “offered”; they’ll just be signed sealed and delivered. Free of charge, just like the health service.

  9. Yeah, change. With the electorate voting a line-up for MPs (for the two parties) that’s practically the same. The biggest casualty for this election have been the new candidates of whatever hue (sole exception: Anthony Zammit whose claim to fame is to have seen Sant’s guts).

  10. PN? Humble????? As soon as they announced that they won with a slim count of 1,500 votes (and I must admit to breathing a sigh of relief) Pierre Portelli and chums immediatetly started referring to AD as “il-partit tat-telliefa” li “misshom jieqfu jtellfu l-elezzjonijiet milli jimxu kif suppost”.

    Please note that ALL parties got an increase in votes compared to the last election EXCEPT for PN. PN ONLY won because of Sant’s incompentent party. If it really was so great as it wants us to believe it should have CRUSHED MLP.

    I’m waiting to hear Gonzi’s speech to see if I can make out some form of humility in his speech.

  11. Lucky boy Dr. Gonzi!
    Nonetheless, welcome back albeit it seems you are bringing all your old pals with you again.
    So, when will the electoral system be openly discussed and reformed to ensure democratic representation?
    When will a transparent system of party financing be implemented?
    When will the first technically competent and morally independent chairperson of any quango be appointed?
    When will we really start building the foundations to promote an environment where we can really and truly work together?
    Let’s open doors, pull up our sleeves, join hands, and look forward…..

  12. Lucky boy Dr. Gonzi!
    Nonetheless, welcome back albeit it seems you are bringing all your old pals with you again.
    So, when will the electoral system be openly discussed and reformed to ensure democratic representation?
    When will a transparent system of party financing be implemented?
    When will the first technically competent and morally independent chairperson of any quango be appointed?
    When will we really start building the foundations to promote an environment where we can really and truly work together?
    Let’s open doors, pull up our sleeves, join hands, and look forward…..

  13. Good morning all,

    What a surreal day that was yesterday…I tend to agree with Alan that we should not accept any gracious humility or soul searching from the PN – they’ve won, and that’s it as far as they’re concerned…
    for those of you who are inteterested in this sort of thing, according to number of invalid votes was 3,415 which I find significant…

  14. Who cares what a brainwashed PN follower with a microphone in his hand has to say about small parties? It’s no different from listening to a brainwashed MLP follower talk about PN, and vice versa.

  15. “As for a PN govt engaging in some soul searching….umm, excuse me but why should it?”

    Well, maybe I’m asking too much here it’s true, but the PN’s majority is hanging on a thread now. It won purely because it was competing with an MLP leader who sent shudders down most people’s spines. So why should it be overconfident?

  16. PN Victory Song 2008

    The only way is out! Labour
    Go away now

    Drink some 7-UP! Labour
    Cure your tummyache now

    Get rid of Alfred Sant! Labour
    He sent you down the drain now

    We’re off to celebrate! Labour
    Because you lost again now

  17. correction re my previous post, that should have read “expect” not “accept”…sorry am still sleepy this morning…

  18. I agree with Gold that PN should spend some time doing some soul searching.

    I think next Sunday’s local council result will also help clear things up a bit. Somehow I think that result will confirm everyone’s suspicion that people voted for PN because of Sant.

    For all the fun I made of GonziPN, the strategy seemed to work.

  19. my comment above needs some commas and some punctuation – sorry – celebrations in the neighbourhood kept me awake all night.

  20. This result unfortunately is a Government-by-default result. As I used to say in my Ajjut blog (alla jahfirlu), if there was only PN on the ballot vote, they would have lost. Since there is Sant and his MLP, however, PN will end up winning. I predicted this a couple of years ago and some people didn’t agree – in fact I got insults from both PN and MLP supporters. But it’s the truth – yesterday’s results are the proof. Malta deserves a better opposition to have a better government.

  21. if there was only PN on the ballot vote, they would have lost. Since there is Sant, however, PN will end up winning.


  22. “Malta deserves a better opposition to have a better government.”

    Parole sante!

  23. Welcome back Andre`,

    any trace of your previous articles?

  24. David Friggieri

    Political punditry on NET TV was of an extremely high quality yesterday. It was a crescendo of platitudes: inzommu l-kalma, irridu nkunu prudenti, inzommu l-kalma, perspex, kollegament dirett to check out apparatchiks milling around the counting hall glued to their mobile phones. Then the result trickled through. No party would get an absolute majority but PN was ahead by about 1000 votes. And the first analysis from smug NET pundits was: “Dawn il-partiti z-zghar grieden li mohhhom biex jagixxu ta’ gganti, iridu jifhmu li ma jistghux jagixxu ta’ gganti.” Tajba Pierre Portelli, spot on l-analizi xbin! Later on that evening Radio 101 was playing Abba’s Winner Takes It All.

    Prosit tar-rebha but show some humility ladies and gentlemen, it would do us all a lot of good.

  25. Sant just resigned. Every cloud has a silver lining.

  26. Alfred Sant has resigned … rumour has it that Michael Falzon and Joseph Muscat are potential candidates for the leadership.

    Please let it be Joseph Muscat, he’s young, promsing and experienced in EU matters, and I don’t feel like another Ayatollah leading the opposition party.

  27. Sandro, se nhalli dal jumejn jghaddu – biss biss jilhqu jonqsu in-nies li dehlin gol blog tieghi – imbaghad nerga intella kollox.

  28. Nahseb illi l-istatement ta’ Antonio huwa pjuttost preciz; il-5 snin li gejjin ser ikunu krucjal ifuq hafna livelli: (a) jekk l-MLP jirnexxilomx isiru partiti b’policy ta vera jew le li jaghtuna opposizzjoni kif jixraqlu dal-pajjiz; (b) jekk il-PN jirnexxilux igib ir-rizultati li hemm bzonn fil-kamp tal-ambjent, fejn Gonzi, qed jitfa’ il-kredibilita’ tieghu quddiem l-elettorat, (u fejn biex jirnexxi irid isib vizjoni olistika minn zmien bikri u jmexxiha b’leadership straordinarju; inkella f’settur fejn hemm daqshekk interessi, u fejn bilanc li jiffavura zvilupp posittiv u jhares l-ambjent ifissier tibdil ta’ kultura shiha m’ghandux cans illi jirnexxi); (c) jekk id-dibattiti isirux izjed profondi (fuq kull livell inkluzi il-kommentaturi tat-TV) biex ma nibqghux bl-istess garar ta’ idejat (mhux biss mill-partiti politici izda minn hafna mis-setturi tas-socjeta) minghajr analizi profonda – nistghu nghidu illi fuq l-iskala l-kbira dan ir-rizultat huwa tajjeb u juri poplu matur ghax jaghti magogranza minimu lill-PN biex ma jiggvernax l-MLP, izda fil-verita’ jekk tara l-voti li tellghu il-kandidati, tipo l-ewwel count ta JPO, juri bic-car illi n-nies ma jidhlux fil-fond ta’ l-affarijiet; fl-ahhar mill-ahhar hima dejjem kwistjoni ta’ evoluzzjoni tas-socjeta’; x’se jsir mill-AD hija kwistjoni interessanti ukoll u kemm jirnexilhom izommu mal-valur taghhom; s’issa f’din l-elezzjoni kien hemm sitwazzjonieit fejn uzaw approaches li jixbhu hafna tal-partiti l-ohrajn; il-politika tibqa politika, sfortunatament…

  29. Biex l-AD u l-AN jimxu il-quddiem, ma jridu jbiddlu xejn, il-poplu irid jinbidel. Qisna l-Comanches u l-Apaches.

  30. Matthew Aquilina

    Joseph Muscat should be leader or else I won’t be voting for the MLP anymore if they make Michael Falzon leader.

  31. I tend to agree with Matthew. I won’t say I won’t vote for MLP if Falzon is elected leader… but it would make it difficult to convince many to vote for him.

    But it’s still early stages. Now is the time to look forward.

  32. With such a slim margin, at this point probably any credible alternative leader would bring the MLP a victory, so I wouldn’t say Michael Falzon would be a bad choice for the MLP. I just believe that the hardcore PN voters are the most conservative ones, while the more volatile ones are those who are very much in disagreement with the PN on non-economic issues but keep on voting the party because it promises economic stability, something which MLP lately hasn’t offered. That’s why I think Michael Falzon is not a good option. If you took the PN at the moment, and replaced Tonio Borg with Michael Falzon you probably wouldn’t notice the difference.

  33. Joseph Muscat as the next MLP leader. Now THAT is an interesting prospect …

    He is young and charismatic – the kind of guy that appeals to both Labourites and non-Labourites.

    He has experience in EU politics which will help shed MLP’s image as the eurosceptic party.

    A (relatively) new face with no attachments to Labour’s dark past.

    He seems like the perfect choice.

    The sensible choice.

    … which is why he will NOT be chosen as the next MLP leader.

    If it’s Michael Falzon (and it well could be) then we will assist to a similar election to this one in 5 … and 10 … and 15 years.

    Maltese politics is doomed. DOOMED I TELL YA!

    Sorry got carried away there.

  34. Matthew Aquilina

    Joseph Muscat to save the party or no-one!

  35. I agree with you on your assessment re Michael Falzon. I hope MLP undergo a huge audit assessing what the main problems of the electoral campaign were, and why they lost votes.

    Mangion and Falzon both make mistakes; Mangion with his DNA comment, and Falzon with his various antics which make him look like a clown.

    One step at a time though – the good thing is that Sant left – and he won’t come back this time.

  36. “which is why he will NOT be chosen as the next MLP leader.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure on this. Michael Falzon is not popular within the MLP. On the other hand, it was Alfred Sant who launched Joseph Muscat’s political career, so I believe he’s more likely to have the support of Sant’s supporters. At this point however, practically ANY positive change (so that excludes Charles Mangion) in the MLP leadership will topple the scales in favour of MLP. PN is hanging to a relative majority by a thread right now. People are still yearning for change, and they will try anything which they haven’t tried before.

    Personally, I don’t think Michael Falzon would be a positive change with respect to Alfred Sant … I actually believe he’s worse. But I’m sure a number of floating voters would warm up to the idea of having him as new MLP leader.

  37. Matthew

    Joseph Muscast is not a member of parliament. I may be mistaken, but as far as I know, he cannot be chosen as MLP leader, unless he is coopted to parliament. This would lead to another zero saga, similar to the KMB debacle in the eighties. However, I do see him as a deputy leader. Incidentally, DCG would have such a good time calling him poodle. Anyhow, I am sure that she will use her imagination to label the next MLP leader whoever he or she may be.

    I have a detailed assessment from the first count votes of how each party faired in relation to 2003. In addition, I can now publish the implications of the results of the Malta today survey of the 6th March. That was one heck of an accurate survey chaps.

  38. The table below represents an interpretation of the results of Maltatoday Survey of 6 March 2008 and taking into consideratino the actual voter turnout and the number of invalid votes.

    NEW VOTES TOTAL VOTES % of valid votes
    PN 134,367 8,939 143,307 49.24
    MLP 133,868 7,902 141,770 48.71
    AD 3,979 3,979 1.37
    AN+Others 1,879 100 1,979 0.68
    Not voting 22,578

    The significance of the information shown in the above Table may be summarised as follows:

    Votes lost by PN from election 2003 11,805
    Votes lost by MLP from election 2003 224
    Floating voters who chose to cast their vote 12,029
    PN voters of 2003 that did not cast their vote in 2008 13,594
    MLP voters that did not cast their vote in 2008 8,984
    New Votes for PN 8,989
    New Votes for MLP 7,952
    MLP/PN voters of 2003 who voted for AD in 2008 1,840

  39. Joseph Muscat won’t be enough to dig MLP out of
    the hole it has dug.

  40. Kieth Chircop

    Everybody speculates, and you’re doing your own speculation. But I think you’re wrong.

    It’s not that people don’t like money, but at times people are weary of the same old faces and the same old way of doing things, especially when the party becomes like an octopus spreading its tentacles into the system. If money really was the issue in this election, then PN would have won by a landslide. Last year the economy was doing well and the budget was a very generous one. But it didn’t.

    From this electoral result it is evident that there was only one factor keeping MLP out of Castille and that was Sant. Whatever he was proposing, people didn’t trust him because they knew that not only does he keep his promises, but he really gets out of his way to keep them (even if in one way or another you still pay for it).

    What the MLP needs now is a complete metamorphosis, which is not necessarily tantamount to a drastic change. But some people need to come to the foreground, and other need to sink into the background. There are many people within the party who are valid, they just don’t seem to be getting the limelight as much as they should: Marie Louise Coleiro, Jose Herrera, Karmenu Vella to name a few. I mention Joseph Muscat as an asset as the MLP needs someone with an EU edge. Michael Falzon is valid, but not as party leader methinks.

    The MLP MUST do a change .. and not only for itself, but for all the Maltese nation. We need a healthy democracy. PN can’t govern legislature after legislature knowing that it will get elected by default.

  41. Going back to the “change” business Keith, I think Gonzi will have a tougher time reforming his party (if he has the will to do it in the first place, but he did play DEAL OR NO DEAL for a fresh cabinet didn’t he?) than MLP and its new leadership. I’m looking at the people getting elected for PN. Please excuse my language but, “same old s***”. To add insult to injury, the most tarnished faces got elected with flying colours (e.g. Mugliett, JPO … seems like when MLP breathe down some opponent member’s neck he garners even more sympathy votes from hardcore PN votes). Oh I really wouldn’t like to be in Gonzi’s shoes at the moment keeping up his promise of this “brand new cabinet”. On the other hand, looks like there’s a lot of brand new faces for MLP, so there is a lot of room for reformation.

  42. All I’m saying is the party that won has a massive advantage over the opposition this time. More than usual.

  43. We’ll see we’ll see …. 5 years are a long time in politics. MLP may have a painful uphill climb the next five years, which I hope will have a healthy outcome. But PN also have a balancing act to do. 1500 disappear much more easily than 12000 ones. So I don’t think anyone can just sit on his laurels.

  44. “Louis Galea, Censu Galea eliminated, Frendo, Zammit Dimech fight for their seats
    Ministers Louis Galea and Censu Galea have been eliminated from the race for parliamentary seats.”

    Whose going to tell me that Louis Galea made such a bad job of education that he didnt deserve getting reelected? … On the other hand a certain Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando shoots straight into parliament from both his districts.

    I just hope that Gonzi will be a bit less superficial when coming up with his definition of a new team than the electorate have been.

    Nothing more than the backest of the benches for JPO style people please. Young and up-and-coming does not automatically equate vibrant and efficient. Gonzi please take note.

  45. Antoine Vella

    There seems to be a basic and important misconception in this blog entry.

    Had AD won a seat in parliament, we’d have had an MLP government on its own.

    There would have been no coalition and we would have ended up being governed by a party which did not even have the relative majority.

    Why is this such a difficult concept to understand ?????

    With the seats divided 34-31, the AD one would have been totally irrelevant to the country.

    Stop living in denial and face the real world.

  46. Pingback: The Real King Makers (a flashback) · j'accuse

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