PfP – What’s the pFuss?

Really. What is the fuss about this reactivation of our membership in the Partnership for Peace? To some it is not yet clear. “Surely a party elected to government has a right to do what it likes?” – they protest. Here’s Jon commenting on a previous post:

Should the PM discuss everything?? Should he drop a proposal just because the opposition and/or other interested parties do not agree with it?

Now that comment is a real eye opener. It is the result of years and years of twisting of democratic truths in order that the undemocratic becomes the accepted norm. Witness the mass of 280,000 which Harry Vassallo speaks about today. To most of them the elections are a battle between the forces of good and evil and once the battle is lost and won, once the hurlyburly’s done, their leader/mexxej is installed in Castille and is tantamount to a King. They want to win the election because in their minds the result is a carte blanche for the next government.  Hence the fear of having a Sant in the helm – it might even have nothing to do with reasoned arguments about management etc… but more about handing the absolute reigns of power that exist is in the general imagination to Darth Vader himself.

Even now as the MLP is preparing for the choice of a new leader, the forces of the other side indulge in an assessment that has nothing to do with the constructive. Just scoot over to the website that specialises in menageries of peacocks and whatnot and see for yourself what an interesting, intelligent discussion there is about the future Labour leadership.  It’s carnival all year round. Great.

In the meantime the electorate has been sufficiently mollified by such fantastical distractions to ignore the fact that its government is having a huge party and has forgotten the basic tenets of the very principles that it is supposed to embody. The PfP is a sensitive issue. It is sensitive because it is divisive. Some people, like Mike Briguglio (comment on this post) will tell you that its anti-constitutional. They believe that it jars with our neutrality clause. Now let us forget for a minute how the neutrality clause came to be about. Let us forget that there is much to discuss about the neutrality clause itself and its relevance in today’s world. Let us forget all that. We still have a current issue – PfP on which Malta as a nation has shown itself to be undecided to say the least.

The DNA of our country’s PfP participation is as schizophrenic as any decision that emanates from our current way of making politics work. Just go over to the Wikipedia site on the Partnership and you will see what I mean. There are Current Members, Signatories who became members of NATO, and then there is Malta – still listed under Former Members but with an addendum posted last week that its membership has been reactivated. Once again Malta will have that farcical position of being in a group but with one foot threateningly holding the door open in case it wants out fast. How useful that will be when speaking in EU security circles is questionable? We are members… but ah yes, we might have an expiry date stuck to our membership.

RCC and our representatives in Brussels will rightly say that membership was necessary to be included in EU talks on Security. That can be used as a valid argument for joining PfP, true. Just as much as an argument from a person like Mike Briguglio on the consitutionality or otherwise of Malta’s membership is equally valid. How do we decide which argument is to trump the other?

Right now the country is still split in two about the issue. True, you have the Labour masses still giving a knee-jerk reaction based on Alfred Sant’s withdrawal in 1996 – based on an electoral promise. True, a substantial part of the other half is more concerned about backing GonziPN than about the consequences of PfP membership. Therein lies part of the problem. Like EU membership, the partisanisation of the issue does not help Malta’s credentials abroad. Unlike the EU issue this time there is no referendum to partially back up the current status of Malta’s policy. In the EU case all forms of democratic consultation were in place – from referendum, to general elections and the final decision has been accepted by all sides.

For the PfP we have the current nationalist government – that same party that made a fool out of Alfred Sant’s governmental measures that were not mentioned anywhere in his electoral manifesto – doing an Alfred Sant and presenting the people with a fait accompli. It would seem that this is what electoral compensation measures are for. Harry asked: “Why don’t we just elect a government? In fact, why don’t we just elect a Prime Minister and let him have a free hand in choosing nine good men and women to run the show? It would be a lot cheaper.” The irony of that statement will be lost on the partitarji. Harry is a loser now – a tellief. Like more than half of the electorate he has lost his right to speak his mind about anything. Any residual rights he may have will be swiftly taken care of by the character assassins of note that are employed to kill the messenger before any message is driven home. You’re too pompous Harry – you wanted a slice of the government cake and now you are sour. Lemons, lemons and sorrow for you. And please do shut up.

Whenever I say that the mechanisms of representation are being distorted I normally get remarks in return that are related to the importance of governance.  But is this the kind of governance that we want? Should we do away with parliament altogether? We might as well at this rate. Forget the peacocks, the chickens and any other birds with wings… we should all just stand in awe and watch another winged monster hatch from its egg… Malta’s volatile foreign policy.

Once again… thank you MLPN.

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4 responses to “PfP – What’s the pFuss?

  1. But is this the kind of governance that we want? Should we do away with parliament altogether?

    Most importantly – is it still governance or is management a more appropriate term? and wasn’t parliament done away with when 10 elected members of parliament decided on behalf of their parliamentary group, parliament itself and most importantly the electorate?

  2. Jacques you misunderstood me, I was not referring to the Pfp issue, as I clarified in a subsequent post. Parties get voted to carry out their political program. If everything they promise is up for discussion then don’t promise anything immediately. On the otherhand, the Pfp issue SHOULD have been discussed, at least in parliament, once it resumes work, precisely because no mention of it has ever been made in the past 10 years, let alone in the electoral program. I hope you don’t manage to misunderstand this as well :-).

  3. Harry asked: “Why don’t we just elect a government? In fact, why don’t we just elect a Prime Minister and let him have a free hand in choosing nine good men and women to run the show? It would be a lot cheaper.”

    And I ask: “If that’s the case why do you and your Party stand for election? Why don’t you …” — here I run for cover — “transform yourself in a pressure group then?”.

  4. Are the mechanisms of representation being distorted?

    Step No 1. distort and eventually destroy platform for national debate. (Xarabank – Malta’s foremost discussion platform? OMG)

    Step No 2. One Net, a national net indeed where our collective/national thinking processes stultify into gruesome and grotesque stances protecting a principal power base and the underpinning ballast-sub-power base

    Step No 3. At the moment of alternanza (a poor relief to a system that excludes its remnant fact-seekers as the main body of opinion is put into a straight-jacket by One Net) alternanza does not happen. How? Why?

    Step 4 – It’s the unelectable nature of MLP of course as compared to the superman image of Dr Gonzi who sips his coffee in front of his PC as he talks to you and me one moment and transports himself to Castille where he saves single-handedly Malta’s financial morass the next-

    as you say, Even now as the MLP is preparing for the choice of a new leader, the forces of the other side indulge in an assessment that has nothing to do with the constructive.

    Indeed. The MLP fear-factor may remain a permanent feature even if it were to be led by Domenico Savio. At this juncture a question arises – Is the MLPN coalition breaking up?

    If it is breaking up, it may mean that the NP may think that it can hold on to its power long-term without having to rely on the MLP. The Perikoluzi/safe hands recipe can be relied upon long-term.

    This can happen if PNs liberal/conservative wings can find a sturdy-enough fuselage.

    The liberal wing seems to have piloted the PfP application. The conservative wing may not have felt too comfortable with the move yet despite appearances that the conservative wing holds an absolute hold on power, i feel that the conservatives are aware that they owe their victory to the liberal wing with its very effectual role in street and work-place. The liberal fuel tanks may be running on full.

    And what about representation? Have we steered so very far off course that we now have to discuss if the power-management mechanisms have been distorted too?

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