There were three key values Roberta Metsola highlighted in her Mabel Strickland memorial lecture: the need to be future-driven, to be unafraid of change and to be prepared to speak up when necessary.

On their own, they are three unremarkable and uncontroversial values likely to be invoked by a politician of whatever hue or background.

When placed in the context of her own political journey, her remarkable achievements to date and the reality of Maltese politics today, those values assume increased significance. They also carry added meaning when spoken by a Maltese woman now elected as president of the European Parliament.

Analysed and parsed for every word spoken and every move made, Metsola’s political future is without doubt a key reference point around which the country’s future politics pivot.

She is a highly respected figure internationally and represents a new image and agenda for Malta. So her views on Malta’s current and future trajectory are of obvious significance.

Her lecture ticked many obvious boxes – the damaged state of our environment, the weak rule of law, corruption, the challenges of migration, and inevitably Malta’s role in the EU. Much of what Metsola had to say was predictable but no less telling and relevant for that. Most importantly, she suggested solutions.

Some of her underlying themes point to a broader context and suggest a direction of future political travel for the Malta she might wish to represent and possibly lead in the not-too-distant future.

She strongly emphasised the importance of Malta’s role in the EU and the EU’s role in Malta, something not surprising from a president of the European Parliament. Yet, it points to her strong and declared identity as a Maltese woman at ease in the world of European (and world) politics and culture.

Metsola insisted that the quest for justice is one that “must” unite a country and not divide it.

She spoke of the importance of the rule of law, promised but not sufficiently delivered by the EU. Additionally, she alluded to Malta’s potential lead role in future EU policy, specifically as regards clean energy (‘a poster child’).

She referred also to the importance of the EU’s role in migration policy, a policy that needs to be firm but fair yet also humane.

Such comments will not be lost on Maltese and European political figures, likewise her comments on corruption having “no place” in political life and being “anathema” to it.

Given her political journey to date, her well-rooted European perspective alongside her declared rejection of traditional identity-based politics, Metsola personifies an internationalist perspective that implies a break with the island’s traditional political structures. She pointedly spoke of not looking backwards with nostalgia but confidently into the future.

Her rejection of traditionalist viewpoints was highlighted in her reference to “outdated, ineffective, patriarchal approaches”. That should send a shiver or two down the spines of traditionalists.

Underpinning her lecture was a recurring reference to the need for change and to embrace rather than fear it. In this context, Metsola offers a positive and progressive role model for not just women but also for all Maltese of whatever background seeking a brighter and more forward-looking society.

Last week’s speech was interpreted by many as her political manifesto for Malta. The big question is: will Metsola actually get involved in domestic politics after her presidency term comes to an end next year? Last week, she definitely sent the right signals to inspire a generation of people switching off from traditional politics.

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