It has been a year since numerous citizens gathered to raise their voices in protest in front of parliament and Castille, demanding the resignation of Joseph Muscat and Co.

For the first time in our democratic journey, a prime minister and his associated cronies were forced to bow down and resign in shame, one after the other. The fall of the mighty eagles, one may quip.

It was an exceptional year for Joe Public to be an active citizen  after years of civil passiveness. But this exercise is still far from over. From public outcry we need to move to assertive political commitment. Otherwise, it would be a one-off. Although peaceful and non-violent protests are commendable to exert pressure, and ought to be encouraged as part of our democratic credentials, protests must be complemented by a firm political determination.

In our democratic political landscape, it is only through our political involvement that change can be achieved. Whatever change we envisage can only be realised through political democratic channels, starting with our vote. It is with our vote that we can bring change and tackle issues significant to us.

A number of thorny, unresolved issues still urgently need our assertive attention. We cannot return to being sheep. We must remain actively engaged. There is no turning back.

Among other pressing economic, social and political questions that need to be tackled, I feel strongly about three concerns.

These are: the systematic destruction of our environment and heritage by particular fat cats who are on the rampage to satisfy their compulsive greed; the lack of inclusion of those who are on the fringes of our communities, in particular our elderly and disabled; and the evergrowing social injustice/inequalities between the have and the have nots.

That our environment is in a perilous state is an understatement. One has only to glance around to acknowledge the systematic demolition of our heritage, the alarming increase in urban overdevelopment and mega white elephant projects, the destruction of gardens and the evergrowing pollution. In this sad state of affairs we must foster political courage and take the bull by the horns.

We must urgently draw up a holistic national building and environment master plan. We need to revisit and update all current policies, stating clearly that ODZ and UCA are what they are meant to be, without exception.

I want to be part of the renewal

Sadly, the Planning Authority turned out to be another Frankenstein. It must be replaced with a truly political transparent and independent environment-friendly entity, answerable to the environment ombudsman rather than to the government.

We need to introduce solar rights too. Residents cannot end up living in the shade facing blank walls.

But to do so we need bold political commitment by politicians who put the environment before votes.

We also need to promote a caring society in which no one is left outside, vulnerable or discriminated against because of  their skin colour, religion, abilities, economic status or sexual orientation.

We must further support our elderly to enable them to continue living in their local communities with dignity.

We need to empower vulnerable families to enable them to live with dignity and reassurance.

Finally, we need to promote social justice by endorsing the politics of the many rather than the interests of the few.

Politics is not about enabling the ‘I’ but the ‘we’. It is about the common good. The measure of success of any economy is not headline statistics but the inclusivity of its economic base, the distribution of wealth and the ability for everyone to succeed.

The economy should be measured not just by economic growth but also quality of life. This is why the Nationalist Party proposes to revisit the COLA mechanism, introduce a living wage and start discussions on a social pact.

This is my vision. This is my endeavour.

It is within this context that I am humbly, once more, accepting the PN invitation to be a candidate in the next election on the ninth and 10th districts.

While the PN might be the underdog, with some stables still to clean and baggage to clear, I want to be part of the renewal, the change I want to see within party and country.

As mayor I am doing my utmost to be the voice of our residents. I also aspire to do my utmost to be the voice of honest citizens, an assertive voice for our environment and a robust voice for inclusion and social justice.

Thus, my chosen motto: Your voice.

Albert Buttigieg, St Julian’s mayor, PN general election candidate

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