The fight for self-governance marked most of the last century, leading to total freedom from colonialism. A few decades later, the people of Malta aspired to become full members of the European Union and we did. But problems began immediately after when citizens started looking for the next steps in developing our nation further. Where are we heading as a country?

Of course, the big question is how to achieve a long-term vision for Malta.

Let me start by highlighting how not to do it. At the moment, we depend on two major political parties that alternate in power. From their part, lobby groups, people with powerful interests, organisations, money and different factors all exert due pressure on them in exchange for a vote. It eventually leads to a situation where the common good does not always prevail over the interests of the few.

Furthermore, the political project of any government only lasts a handful of years. Think about it: a political term is five years. The first year is the running in (handover, giving direction, etc.), the following three years is when the actual work happens and the last year is the gearing up for the next election. We have also seen that clientelism is exceptionally high, thus leading to short-term populist proposals that only hamper rather than advance our country in the long term.

This short-termism is, of course leading us towards a pitfall. We cannot continue like this. We have to rise above partisan politics to plan a sustainable future, not for ourselves but for our future generation. Why is it so hard for both parties to agree on important matters such as education, health and other issues? Why should we taint them with a political colour, demonise different solutions and sanctify our approaches as if we possess the gift of infallibility? Can’t we act maturely, sit at a table and trace a road map for our country?

By doing so, we can be more courageous when facing tough decisions. Just think what New Zealand did. In 2017, the Whanganui River became the first waterway worldwide with a legal personality. The third-longest river in New Zealand can now be represented in court and has two guardians to speak on its behalf. Isn’t that mind-blowing? We talk so much about our environment, let’s be serious about it.

Think about the political manifestos. They are overflowing with populist measures. We could erase Christmas and replace it with an election in December. Let’s be serious, discard myopic proposals and plan for our children’s future.

And why should the winner-take-it-all after an election? I’ve heard some sensible proposals coming from all political parties, even from the smaller ones. So rather than reject any counterproposal by default, why not try to embrace the good ones and adopt them too? Wouldn’t our country benefit if we did so? Can we afford to discard valid people because of their political allegiance?

Let’s work together to make project Malta a success- Alexiei Dingli

I’ve seen too many people sidestepped frivolously. Some because they have a different political viewpoint as if not everyone is entitled to one. Others because they had a spat with one of the people at the top, even though they hail from the same political family. We have to stop this madness because we are depleting our country of thinkers who can engineer the Malta of tomorrow. 

Also, shouldn’t we try to get a more balanced representation in parliament? Why don’t we fix the system and make it easier to get small party representation? Sometimes, I feel that our parliament has turned into a political reality show. It should not be akin to a table tennis match with arguments bouncing from one side. We should embrace disagreements rather than purge them.

Debate is a skill we desperately lack. It is evident even from the most seasoned politicians. We listen to our opponent only to retaliate. We rarely seek common ground. And, in the most vicious of cases, we stoop down to the personal level as well. It is high time we start acting civilly and change things.

We should refine our political thought. We have a tragic situation where experts, scientists and people with experience are only referred to when they sing from our hymn book and, in most cases, thrown away as soon as the economic interest triumphs over the good intentions.

In an uncertain world, the only way to succeed is to plan for the long term. We are in desperate need of an observatory of the future. One that studies the signs and proposes long-term goals. Did we need the latest war to realise that we must become self-sustainable? How many jobs will be lost before we wake up to the reality of automation? The writing is on the wall. But if we don’t plan for the future, we will be part of someone else’s plan.

So, let’s all take a deep examination of conscience. After this election, let’s start changing things for the better. In every election, there should be only one winner, Malta. So, let’s work together to make project Malta a success, not just for us but mainly for our future generations. 

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