My father always advocated that one should vote for individuals rather than the political parties they are affiliated to.

I’ve often wondered if my father was right in reasoning the way he did and, now, in view of recent developments, the question seems even more pertinent.

I can certainly see where my father’s logic comes from but I still firmly believe in the importance of voting for a party that represents our values regardless of the individual candidates within it.

It is fundamental that we choose which party to vote for based on what it is planning to offer the Maltese and Gozitans.

To vote intelligently one would need to assess various aspects of administration – from health to education, from the economy to employment and much more.

At the core of any plans there needs to be a concrete basis or, shall I say, the beating soul of the party. This party’s overall objective has to be proven and it is the party’s representatives that have to work wholeheartedly towards this mission.

I will go a step further and say that anyone who gets involved in politics, in whatever role, should equally work with the same mission.

The responsibility to choose the best representatives and the best party falls squarely on each and every one of us and this starts with the basic responsibility to cast our vote in the first place. If we don’t vote, we don’t make a choice, which, by default, means letting others choose for us when their choice may not, in fact, be the right one and, inevitably, consequences will follow.

If we don’t vote, we don’t make a choice- Roselyn Borg Knight

Then comes the question of whom to vote for. I am so tired of seeing candidates being elected just because they are known. Sadly, with our electoral system, popularity seems to be the only route to success and while I am not saying that being popular automatically means that an individual is not fit to lead, we really need to know our candidates more before voting for them.

Ask around, look out for their past experiences, what they’ve achieved or failed to achieve and, most importantly, what they stand for.

We need to be represented by people who have the common good at heart and by people who can truly contribute in policy, in making our beautiful island better and not bringing it into disrepute.

Rotten apples have no place in politics and, yet, they keep lurking around because they keep being elected. This is what discourages people from entering politics.

Rotten apples, with their individualistic and selfish motives, not only damage the country but also do a disservice to genuine politicians who would really want to make a difference in bettering people’s lives.

And, finally, the way we vote should not be a one issue decision, no matter how strongly we might feel about a certain matter. I vividly recall the way the divorce issue was handled by the Nationalist Party and how strongly I felt against the party’s position. At the time, I was not a politician but, as a citizen with a vote in hand, I was so annoyed about this one issue that I truly questioned whether I should cast my vote for the PN or not. In the end, I did because I looked at the whole party message, the whole ‘package’ and what the party stood for.

So, yes, dad was right about the importance of choosing the right individual to vote for but the choice of party should also remain at the core of our decision.

I truly believe that what has happened recently has shaken us all to the core. But we need to stay alert and not fall into apathy or disinterest – this is the worst time to disengage.

We need to stand together and use our strength to help each other recover from this very difficult time and bring back our country to the place it deserves to be.

Roselyn Borg Knight is PN international secretary and election candidate.

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