The Maltese electorate will this year join other citizens around the European Union in voting for their representatives in the European Parliament. No doubt, as is customary prior to any electoral process, this day will be preceded by an intense period of campaigning by the parties and candidates standing for election.
Before the country shifts into advanced electioneering mode, it is crucial for all involved to keep in mind what the aim of the game ultimately is.
The central question we want to see taking centre-stage in this campaign is how can we contribute towards a better European Union. How can we make a difference and addresses the challenges faced by the political bloc?
The forthcoming election is about selecting our best ambassadors to the European Parliament. In this vein, it is the Chamber of Commerce’s view that the electoral campaign is one that benefits Malta and brings out the best qualities of our candidates as opposed to one which is detrimental to our country and its reputation.
We must be mindful of the fact that, in a globally-connected scenario, the world is watching. Anything we do and say is likely to be picked up and will raise our country’s profile in the global stage or used to hurt Malta’s reputation with the obvious negative repercussions.
Consequently, the Chamber looks forward to a campaign wherein prospective candidates are positive and constructive in their approach, respect the intelligence of the electorate and are proactive in their ideas about how they can make a difference in the European Parliament for their Maltese constituents.
They should refrain from engaging in cheap exercises of mud-slinging, especially if this is baseless and implicates innocent parties. Elections should be won on trust rather than mis-trust and the Maltese electorate must vote for what they want rather than for what they do not want.
The Chamber, therefore, expects constructive, concrete and plausible ideas for the electorate to consider, judge and vote for.
We must remain vigilant against extreme and populist notions
Malta must not go down the route of populism, which is one of the main sources of the problems facing the EU and the 28 countries within it. As a strong promoter of the European project and of EU membership for Malta prior to accession, the Chamber is concerned about rises in populism and how this is causing rapid and profound change in Europe.
Consequently, ahead of the May 2019 election, the business community feels it has a strong responsibility to speak up, explain why the EU is so important for our people’s future and ensure that things are going in the right direction.
Businesses are the backbone of Europe’s economic stability and people’s prosperity. Entrepreneurs invest, create jobs and make the economy grow.
The private sector in Malta and in the rest of Europe is responsible for the creation of jobs, investment and prosperity. Business is committed to transforming the economic, social, technological and environmental challenges we are facing into opportunities and to promote and continue to improve our European way of life.
Though it seems remote, we must remain vigilant against extreme and populist notions. No country is immune to it as is evident from the repercussions of political irresponsibility affecting a number of our European partners. Several well-documented examples of populist-driven campaigns have, in fact, presented the EU with unprecedented challenges landing it in completely uncharted territory.
Ahead of the forthcoming MEP election campaign in our country, therefore, the private sector appeals to both politicians and the electorate to act responsibly.
From a Chamber point of view, we expect the campaign to be complementary to brand-Malta as a centre for successful, strong and ethical business and investment. Our politicians must endeavour to ensure that they maintain a mature quality of debate that brings the very best of our country’s values and nothing else.
Frank Farrugia is president of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.
This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece
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