by Thomas Cassar Ruggier
In the dynamic world of politics, it is a common characteristic that in a democracy there will be opposing parties that would brand themselves as the greater alternative to lead the country’s institutions than their political adversaries.
In the years before the general election of 9th March 2013, when the country was undergoing a period of economic stagnation, an unstable Nationalist government was riddled with internal rivalries and administrative fiascos and aggravated by the corruption that took place. The Labour Party, at the time in Opposition, propagated themselves as a movement that would do politics differently and bring positive change to the Maltese. This led to the absolute (and for many, satisfying) humiliation to the Nationalist Party that to this day still plagues the party and threatens its relevance and existence in the political sphere.
Fast-forward five years after the historic change in 2013 and we find ourselves in 2018, with the country led by the “progressive” Labour movement which still continuously sells itself as the incorruptible party of the people.
But how does our ‘l-Aqwa Żmien’ government show that it is totally different from past administrations? It appoints the President of the Development Lobby, Sandro Chetcuti, on the public pay to act as a consultant, influencing Planning and Property Market policy;.
The appointment of the king of development is just too much to bear and is symbolic in many ways; he is an individual who is the epitome of what is wrong with the country’s economic model.
Firstly, it symbolises the stance of our great and considerate Joseph Muscat, in that the need for intelligent environmental management and proper regulation of the rental market is total nonsense to him. How can we expect the government to follow through with these areas when it has given a consultancy role on planning and property to an individual who sees it against the interests of the lobby to regulate a market which they profit from?
How can we expect the Government to follow through when it consults the head of a lobby with conflicting interests in these areas? The Government will not change the rules if its friends are making great profits from rising rents and environmental mismanagement.
This suggests that previous statements the Prime Minister himself made about the mentioned issues are just meaningless words used to boost his public image.
The second and more significant symbolism is the appointment itself. That this government is in bed with the economic elite shows the position of direct influence over policy initiation and the decision-making process of the lobby group. This is different to giving the lobbyists a run for their money through the normal process, as it should be done in a proper and serious democracy. One cannot be more pro-establishment than that.
It is both ironic and funny at the same. It is ironic because our grande Joseph once tweeted that his party is anti-establishment during the US Presidential elections of 2016. It is funny because youths part of the ‘well-minded’ Labour Movement are strong believers in real socialism and critics of Trump, who is open to lobbyism, which once again brings in irony into the situation since their Joseph does the exact same thing.
The closeness of Sandro Chetcuti is one among many gestures indicating that Muscat’s Labour Movement brought no change to a system of greed and opportunism. It seems that politics is not being done differently, and is instead moving towards further political degeneration.