The Nationalist Party has recruited popular television presenter Salvu Mallia and others like him are likely to follow.
Mr Mallia said last week why he opted to stand for elections on the PN ticket: he wants Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to go. He gives no quarter.
Admitting, and publicly regretting, voting for the Labour Party in 2013, Mr Mallia feels disillusioned and let down. First to irk him was the fact that the Prime Minister had rented his own car to himself but the tipping point came with the Prime Minister’s announcement of a ‘university’ at Żonqor Point in Marsascala.
Initially, Mr Mallia appeared inclined to align with independent MP Marlene Farrugia’s Democratic Party but, looking at things realistically, he realised he needed to join the one strong force that could possibly remove Dr Muscat from office. Then, he went further and invited Dr Farrugia, who is similarly disappointed with Labour in government, to follow suit.
Mr Mallia has put his faith in PN leader Simon Busuttil who he describes as a gentleman and the right man to remove “the most corrupt government the country has ever seen”.
For Mr Mallia, speaking up is a duty. He fears that, unless the present administration is removed, the country would go through worse than it did in the early 1980s, “when Malta was saved from civil war by the wisdom and prudence of [former prime minister] Eddie Fenech Adami”.
The PN leader must have stuck the right cord with Mr Mallia with his promise of good governance. But how many Salvu Mallias are there who are prepared to put principles first and to stand up to be counted? There actually may be quite a few.
The PN does not have an easy task ahead. The economy is in boom, oil prices are down, enabling the government to cut energy costs without even building a power station, and the political situation in some neighbouring countries is helping to boost tourist numbers to new records. So far, the PN’s main political platform is good governance and wants others to join it.
On a similar vein, Dr Farrugia is talking of a “political coalition” to give people a “clean government”. Given our electoral system, to achieve that realistically would mean that people like Mr Mallia, Dr Farrugia and others who share the same ideals would have to stand on the PN ticket even if they might not feel totally at home with the party. That can be an issue of concern.
Winning the election is not an end in itself. The PN will also need to provide an alternative government that is not only “clean” but also stable. The last Nationalist administration, which saw the antics of Franco Debono and Jefffrey Pullicino Orlando bring it to an inglorious end, should have served as a cruel lesson and an eye-opener.
Any ‘alliances’ that the PN could be tempted to enter into have to be based on sound political principles and on a clear and agreed electoral programme. It would need to vet its new allies well and obtain their clear commitment before allowing them to stand on its ticket.
It would not be an easy ride in government, should the PN succeed to win, as such arrangements invariably lead to problems when unexpected issues arise. Clean politics is not a political ideology.
On the other hand, a coalition, and less party straitjackets, could add some maturity to our local political culture.