The Maltese Dream of piracy and easy money is alive and well in the Reign of the Kickback King.
Malta won’t be losing Joseph Muscat anytime soon — not because he chose to stay, but because he has nowhere else to go.
Muscat rejected European values long ago, and now the EU has firmly rejected him for any of the top jobs he coveted so openly.
Asked how he feels about this embarrassing defeat, Muscat tried to shrug it off as though he hadn’t really been chasing it. “I will continue as Prime Minister with more vigour,” he said.
I’m not sure what that means, exactly. Has he been performing at half-vigour or quarter-vigour up until now?
Whatever the Prime Minister’s Vigour Setting, he has been remarkably successful at home.
Perhaps more than any politician of his generation, Muscat understands the character of the people he governs. He knows moral right and wrong don’t matter to the citizens who voted him in with a massive majority. What matters is each voter’s price. Amoral familism opts for short term personal gain every time.
People vote for a corrupt politician in Malta because they see him as someone they can work with.
Perhaps you wanted a few crumbs from the table, and so you shrugged, said, “I don’t care what he does, as long as I have money in my pocket.” But don’t look up. While you’re busy sweeping those crumbs off the tiles, Muscat, Mizzi and Schembri are disassembling your kitchen and selling it out the back door.
Perhaps you were frustrated by the Planning Authority, and by having to obtain permission to build, and so you voted for a leader who was unapologetically pro-development.
No stretch of ODZ land is too sacred for another fuel station, another hotel, or another generic high rise to match those cut-rate Dubai dreams.
Besides, this is all part of a cunning plan. You’ll need fuel stations within easy reach so you can keep the air conditioner running when Transport Malta finally achieves its dream of total gridlock.
Maybe you wanted a pro-business administration, and so you voted for a leader whose pro-business sympathies start with the funny business of his own closest associates.
We can be forgiven for thinking that Kasco and Henley & Partners are the most important businesses in the land. But of course, any personal protection extended by Castille is entirely selfless.
Lord Hearnville and Lord Tillgate may be getting kickbacks, but the mysterious Lord Egrant wants you to know that he never does. A very large report was commissioned to prove Lord Egrant isn’t Muscat – and nobody’s seen it, except those with the most to lose.
But maybe your ambitions weren’t so grand as all that. Maybe you just wanted a nice little non-job for yourself in exchange for your vote. Nothing too difficult, ta. Just punch the clock and slip out the back door, or settle in for a Night Watchman’s Nap.
And so you voted for a leader who displays the virtue of true friendship. He’ll go through any number of contortions to keep Neville Gafa on the public purse. In fact, he’s so loyal to his friends he’ll jeopardise the entire economy and risk EU sanctions to protect Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi. Is that the sound of BOV gurgling down the drain?
This is also a leader who believes in family values — at least as far as giving valuable jobs to Helena Dalli’s entire family.
But maybe those issues didn’t hit close enough to home for your precious vote.
Perhaps you just wanted a strong leader, someone who would make a mark on the world stage. Okay, so far he’s made a stain. But Malta is now highly respected in the community of nations. Look how eager Azerbaijan and Viktor Orban’s Hungary are to stand up for Malta.
Or perhaps the most partisan among you were motivated by pure spite. You wanted a Labour “king” to put those Blue jerks in their place, and so you voted for the brash arrogance of the village square, the strutting little man who rejects European values and thumbs his nose at EU institutions while soaking as much money as he can get out of them.
Not to be outdone by her consort when it comes to basking in the limelight, the glamorous First Lady of Kickbackistan does her best to give you a sort of Mediterranean Imelda Marcos that you can look up to, complete with outfits and shoes. But we know she’s selflessly devoted to her charity work because of all those awards her husband’s government keeps giving her.
All of these actions play very well domestically and make Joseph Muscat endlessly electable. But where Maltese voters see a politician who eagerly embraces clientelism as someone they can work with, the rest of Europe sees a lot of dodgy dealing in a place where all roads lead to Castille.
Europe rejected Joseph Muscat for a top position, regardless of how hard he begged, grovelled and pushed for one because they’ve finally begun to realise that the tiny kleptocracy on their southern border is a threat to the rest of the bloc.
Malta is no longer the brave little island that stood up to Ottoman fleets and Nazi bombers. In the eyes of Europe and the world, it’s now the greedy little microstate that sells EU passports for personal gain, bravely undercutting its allies anytime it can get a commission.
The philosopher Joseph de Maistre said, “Every nation gets the government it deserves”.
Even the EU recognised that Muscat’s place is firmly in Malta. He’s exactly what Malta deserves.