Sunday morning broke with the news that Robert Abela is to be the new prime minister. Thanks to a majority among the 17,000 eligible tesserati (party members), Abela is the new Mexxej (leader). Analysts were out in full force trying to understand how Abela got here. Others were busy calculating the odds of Abela being the right person to bring on the much-desired change.
I did read a few interesting angles and truths such as the one that said that Abela’s campaign, unlike Chris Fearne’s, was to lead Labour, not to run a country. His message rang strongest with the Party die-hards.
It should no longer amaze me that so many are prepared to give new leaders from within the partisan fold some kind of “chance”. Let’s call it the benefit of the doubt. It is after all part of the sickness of the system that forces it to continue to delude itself of its capability of churning out leaders and projects for the nation.
So here we were somehow mourning a lost chance of greater change with Fearne. Here we were somehow placing our hope in a newly elected 42-year-old backbencher whose claim to fame is to have conned successive governments to allow him to suckle at the teat of public procurement practically from the day he graduated.
Continuity. That is Abela’s buzzword. In that buzzword, you have the key to why Abela is not the answer to anything we might have been looking for. It is continuity from the Muscat regime that spent the last weekend basking in its own perceived splendour in conclusion of the dragged-out resignation.
It was a weekend of adulation complete with a biopic of the outgoing prime minister who was pictured in the tried-and-tested Labour rhetoric of Salvatur (Saviour) of the nation.
Muscat’s resignation has been made to seem a natural process chosen by himself and all references to the disastrous situation which he has bequeathed to the country have vanished. Muscat has much to answer for and should not be going anywhere.
Together with the other two members of the triumvirate of rule of law backslide, his place is at the dock of justice answering for his deeds.
“We do not have any tragedy in our country”. Abela’s words addressing the crowd in Kordin on Sunday included a huge effort to brush off any sense of crisis in the country.
“Leave us govern” was a veiled threat to the protests that he had described as a “provocation” in the run-up to his leadership campaign.
Continuity and normality are what Abela wants to sell us. We can get lost in the petty calculations of backdoor deals and whether Abela chooses to surround himself with a new Cabinet or to continue with the old or a mix of both. The bottom line has already been handed to us – as early as the 1 December.
The bottom line is business as usual. More rhetoric of wealth distribution, more rhetoric of cosmetic tinkering with the laws that bind us to silence the vocal criticism from outside the country, more of the same.
The hordes of 21st century democracy have been beckoned to confirm what we knew all along – that the people do not want change no matter how much they need it. Abela is the new prophet of these reactionary populist movements. Yet another product of the partisan scheming has been catapulted at the helm of a nation.
I will not be the one holding my breath for any effective change coming out of this Labour corner. The Labour leadership, its core supporters and the beneficiaries of its politics have signed up to this program of continuity.
Minutes after Abela walked off the Kordin stage, photos of him hugging a beaming Konrad Mizzi were doing the rounds on social media. It’s a sorry picture. Tragic even.
If this is normal then the situation is still desperate and the crooks are still everywhere.