This article is an analysis of a future electoral result. Aside from early voters and interdicted criminals, the bulk of the electorate is still to cast its vote and yet we can already read what the 2022 election will tell us.
We can already draw, with near certainty, on a number of signs that this election tells us about the state of our nation, of the people and of their aspirant representatives.
Much has happened since 2017, foremost among which was the brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. A public inquiry found that the government had a role to play in creating an atmosphere of impunity.
Abela’s ‘continuity’ was rocked by scandal after scandal while the country was greylisted into financial pariah status. By all accounts, 2022 should be the moment of reckoning – judgment day for a government whose days of abuse of power were surely counted.
Yet. Labour will be confirmed in government again. A fluctuating gap in the polls has never been more than a faint flicker of hope that somehow the electorate would decide otherwise than confirming Abela’s tenure in Castille. The power of incumbency has been milked to the maximum. Add to that the multimillion-euro propaganda campaign, and the walkover was guaranteed.
Make no mistake – this is no ideological victory. It is a victory by brute force carried by a wave of greed and egoism. It is a vote for cheques in the mail and for blind belief in more distribution of public monies through the unmeritocratic chain originated under Joseph Muscat and perfected under Robert Abela. It remains to be seen which barons in government will emerge from the bloody fratricidal battles over their respective fiefdoms.
The majority vote does teach us that a large swathe of the population will be unimpressed by proof of corruption. A prime minister who so blatantly milked the system from his days as the President’s dauphin to the grey area concerning his property dealing (whether renting or purchasing) is hailed as a hero. With many variables pointing to multiple possibilities for a potential future crisis such as oil and food price hikes, the vast majority prefers to follow the Pied Piper playing the tune of propagandistic prosperity. So long as there is a piece of the pie to nibble at. Or so they are promised.
The Opposition might lick its wounds. It might pitch its new tent in the No Man’s Land of ‘I told you so’. After all, it has run an election based on the new aspiration of damage limitation. A decade or so ago, the PN would pitch the sale of ‘we are the least damaging alternative’. This is no longer enough. The new mantra is ‘vote for us to avoid a crippling two-third majority for Labour’.
This election result is yet another indictment of an Opposition that refuses to accept the need for radical change and insists on playing the game. Its latest leader had dragged its disparate parts to the polling stations with the faint hope of a new beginning of sorts. The pitch remained a pitch to save a Party, a pitch that was oblivious to the greater cause of saving a nation.
Throughout the campaign, the Opposition confused the Party good and the common good, confirming its inability to detach from a sick system that produces either failed or corrupt politicians. Will the post-election period renew the navel gazing and desperate pleas to revive il-partit? Yes, probably the charade will go on.
Many chose not to vote. A larger number than we are used to. It is not possible to lump all abstainers into one basket to the extent that it would be premature to declare that they could potentially be a third Party that breaks the hegemony. Few in Malta exercised the blank ballot alternative that would give a clear signal no one on the ballot was worthy of a vote.
In 2022, the Maltese electorate was called to vote in a period of crisis. The state of the nation, the international scenario, the failing institutional structures and the vacuum in rule of law all begged for one logical outcome – a revolution that means a radical change and the birth of a new Republic.
The 2022 election result shows us that the people are not ready for a revolution. We lack the leaders who will inspire the call for that revolution. We lack the conviction that there can be a much better state than this. We have been sedated into thinking that there is still not an urgent need for such radical change. We have been duped into a false sense of security that everything will turn out to be right.
The strongest tool in our citizens’ arsenal was transformed into an act of complacent submission. We the people confirm the stranglehold that our false representatives have on us. It was, after all, a foregone conclusion.