Consider this. In just one week three members of parliament from the government benches were embroiled in different scandals.
Ian Castaldi Paris will not run for the next election. Silvio Grixti has already resigned from parliament and, in the meantime, Justyne Caruana clings on unexpectedly to her ministerial post.
No matter where you look among the government benches there is more than a hint of corrupt activity. The examples of cronyism have been chronicled for posterity, but the clinging to power of the Labour establishment defies all logic and principles of democratic government.
Public procurement is a sham. It is hard even to identify one public policy that is not determined by private interests linked to the network of cronyism that fuels the party in government. As I have mentioned before any form of accountability is mired in procedural acrobatics and a palpable unwillingness of the institutions to act where they should.
The Opposition seems to place high hopes on the “silent votes” speaking up when it counts. This would mean that huge numbers of people who have not expressed themselves in the surveys will be prepared to vote the Labour Party out of power. There is, in this reasoning, the tiny conundrum that it does not only require the silent voters to desist from voting Labour but also that they find the Opposition sufficiently convincing to attract their vote.
I do not speak as a pessimist here, but I do harbour serious doubts whether enough is being done by the Opposition for it to become the leader of the wave of change that is needed. In any case, many might disagree with its assumptions on the direction the votes will go. In fact, it has been posited that the electorate’s will could serve as a healing power – purging all the sins with which the last two governments have been stained.
The preposterous theory being peddled relies on the basic notion that, no matter what a party in government may do to deserve condemnation, should it win re-election all its sins are absolved. This is not stated in some moralistic metaphor but rather with the firm belief that all legal responsibility for actions of the government is expunged once the resounding vote ushers it back into the seat of power.
This strange measure of democratic accountability turns the enfranchised electorate into much more than the demos that elects its representatives and governors. The people also become judge and jury, displacing the instruments upon which a well-oiled State relies to ensure the proper functioning in accordance with the rule of law.
Even the prime minister, notwithstanding his legal credentials, has taken to peddling absurd weights and measures when it comes to the accountability of his Cabinet colleagues for their actions.
In the latest absurdity spouted from the Castille resident’s mouth, we heard that the cases concerning Rosianne Cutajar and Justyne Caruana merit different treatment because one was in contact with Yorgen Fenech and the other was not.
It sounds a bit like the joke about the English breakfast – the chicken was involved but the pig was committed. That Abela and his like can get away with literally bullshitting the country with their ridiculous excuses is not half as worrying as what lies ahead when, come election day, the divine absolution by the majority will possibly elect a bunch of unprincipled corruption-enablers to power again.
Sadly, this is the kind of measure to which we are beholden. It is enough to sow doubt as to whether any valid level of opposition could be attained. In the words of the poet though, “our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
It behoves us to keep trying. Meanwhile, I wish a warm Christmas to all readers of this column and The Shift.