A democracy is as strong as its people’s will to do right. This is perhaps the most crucial factor that voters should consider in the upcoming election.
Usually, or rather when elections occur in a normal country, people tend to cast their vote based on their party allegiance, personal calculations and electoral manifestos.
But we are sadly not living in a normal country.
Some need your vote to evade justice, to get away with murdering a journalist, to carry on living off the wealth garnered from corruption, and to continue making millions by obliterating our environment.
The Labour Party needs your vote to continue where it left off, destroying the very institutions that are meant to protect us all.
In the old days, the Labour Party did this by resorting to violence. Today it is garnishing votes by other illicit means, such as by sending out cheques on the eve of an election and handing out public sector jobs to constituents.
Voters might be inclined to say who cares about the country so long as I get what I want or need?
The expression “I am all right, duck you, Jack” comes to mind.
It is like Chelsea Football Club winning all those trophies without bothering about the source of funds undermining their success.
I am sure that many among us do not care where the money to fund those cheques came from. So what if the national debt has now exceeded €9 billion?
Who cares if Robert Abela’s government has overspent by €3.7 million a day since getting into office?
Perhaps these people think the debt is the government’s responsibility, not theirs. These same people might also believe there is no harm if our state institutions fail so long as they are a phone call away from a minister.
Who needs a strong planning authority when a minister can get you a permit to build a tower? Or who needs a strong police force if a prime minister can decide who gets to be investigated or not investigated?
Malta has become a Hamlet country where the prime minister and his ministers get to decide matters such as whether to be or not to be investigated, to be or not to be promoted, to be or not to be employed, to be or not to be allowed to build, to be or not to be operated on. And the list goes on.
They do so because the electorate has removed the most basic insurance against political abuse: consequence.
Sadly, in Malta today, the correlation between doing wrong and paying the price for that wrongdoing no longer exists.
A word of caution to those thinking there is no price for destroying democracy. You will miss it when it’s gone- Mario de Marco
This is partly because the state institutions are not carrying out their functions as they should by investigating or, where necessary, sanctioning the wrongdoers.
I highlight the National Audit Office, the Ombudsman, the Commissioner for Standards in Public Office, and generally the courts and inquiring magistrates as notable exceptions to this general malice.
This failure is also due in part to the willingness of the electorate to close the proverbial eye to the politicians’ abuses.
I hope against hope that we are still in time as a country to return to normality where right triumphs over wrong.
I hope our people will find it in their hearts and minds to look beyond this government’s glitz and see the rot beneath.
I hope that the voters of this country can use their most effective weapon against corruption by voting out this government that lives and thrives on all that is wrong in politics.
Malta is part of an international community, a league of nations, most of which are decent, law-abiding countries. Over the past nine years, we has sadly departed from this list and moved to the list of countries that hover in the grey area where laws and regulations are flouted in pursuit of economic gains.
This fact has not gone unnoticed, and as a country, we are starting to pay a heavy price.
Our election coincides with the time when the good countries of the world are coming together to fight a rising evil. As we sit around the table with these countries, some ask whether we should be there. They are asking whether we can make the right decisions even at a personal sacrifice.
The answer to this question starts with you, me and everyone who will be casting his vote in the upcoming election. We have a choice to make: between seeking once again the path to normality and true democracy over the course of screwing up whatever is left of our democratic credentials and reputation for personal gain.
This is a word of caution to those thinking that there is no price for destroying or taking democracy for granted. You will miss it when it’s gone.
Also, a word of hope to those who, like me, want a better Malta for this and future generations. Together we can do it.