Two young politicians – Joe Azzopardi

The measure of a man is what he does with power – Plato


Roberta Metsola and Joseph Muscat are two of the most well-known of a new generation of young politicians.

From 2016 to 2017, Roberta Metsola was part of the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion, which investigated the Panama Papers revelations, and other tax avoidance schemes more broadly and more in detail.

In December 2019, a fact-finding European Parliament delegation, including members from Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee, was in Malta for two days of meetings.

Roberta Metsola was part of the delegation. The delegation met disgraced Joseph Muscat still at Castille a few days before his official resignation. When the delegation came out of the meeting, all MEPs looked quite disappointed.

Except for one of them, Roberta Metsola, who was representing the EPP as its rule of law spokesperson. Outside Castille, she described Muscat as adamant against calls for his immediate resignation.

But her words were accompanied by one defiant act – refusing to shake the disgraced prime minister’s hand.

As Joseph Muscat walked into the room and approached her to shake hands before the meeting started, Metsola turned her head the other way and refused to shake his hand.  “If he thinks he can try to brush off responsibility, he is sorely mistaken. Get out now, before you do irreparable damage to the country,” she wrote.

The photo went viral on social media.  It was one of the most iconic photos of the year, and it still is. Some time has passed since that particular moment.

Since then, Muscat resigned in shame and has been replaced at the helm of the Labour Party and government by Robert Abela. He has also resigned from being a Member of Parliament.

His political career was over, in disgrace.

Roberta Metsola’s political career has meanwhile advanced remarkably. She became the First Vice-President of the European Parliament, being the first Maltese to ever occupy that position. In November 2021, she was chosen as the EPP’s candidate for the European Parliament’s presidential election after the early demise of Italian Davide Sassoli. EPP Group Chairman Manfred Weber told the media soon after the vote that Metsola would be the youngest president in the history of the European Parliament.

He referred to Metsola as “a very convincing candidate for the other groups”.

On her 43rd birthday, 18 January 2022, Roberta was elected as President of the European Parliament in the first round of voting, getting an absolute majority of 458 votes out of 690 cast. On her election, Metsola became the youngest-ever EP President and the first Maltese politician to hold such an esteemed office.

Since her appointment as EP President Roberta Metsola has received a number of prestigious awards.

She was presented with the Donne a Innovazione Award by TuttiMedia an institution dealing with communications and changes brought by new technology. She was also awarded the King David Award by the European Jewish Association in recognition of her support to the Jewish Community in Europe.

Last January, Metsola received the Woman of The Year Award by Nadia Calvino, the Deputy Prime Minister of Spain. The award, honouring ‘extraordinary and inspirational women,’ was presented to President Metsola for the work she carried out while leading the European Parliament, particularly for her actions regarding the war in Ukraine, for her commitment to the fight against corruption and for her fierce defence of European values.

And on the other hand, there is Joseph Muscat

Despite his vehement opposition to Malta’s entry into the European Union, Joseph Muscat contested and was elected as MEP to the European Parliament in the 2004 European Parliament election.

Apart from sitting on some committees, his contribution to the European Parliament was scarce, apart from a scene he made when there was no Maltese translator present. Muscat stamped his feet and did not deliver his two-minute speech.

Joseph Muscat was elected leader of the Labour Party in March 2008 after the resignation of Alfred Sant after yet another Labour defeat at the elections.

Later, in June, he addressed a mass rally at the PL headquarters where a number of former Labour Members of Parliament were present. Among them were Salvu Sant, Lino Debono, Bertu Pace, Joe Brincat, Joe Micallef Stafrace, Joe Grima, Reno Calleja and Philip Muscat.

Muscat resigned from the European Parliament in September 2008 to take his seat in the Maltese Parliament as Leader of the Opposition.

In 2013, after a millionaire electoral campaign, Labour was elected to power, and Joseph Muscat was sworn in as prime minister. What happened during his tenure is known to all, not only in Malta.

One journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, uncovered all the sleaze that was going on and started publishing her blog ‘Running Commentary.’ Her daily blog was read by hundreds of thousands, both locally and abroad.

This irked Joseph and friends, and they started systematic personal attacks by a number of state-paid trolls. She was followed and hounded by ‘tagħna lkollers’.

Ministers and pro-government ‘journalists’ joined the fray by instituting a number of libel cases against her. Still, she did not stop even when Chris Cardona froze her assets after she reported his “ħaqq alla kemm hu kiesaħ l-ilma” visit to the FKK Acapulco brothel in Verbert, Germany while on official business.

It was the first case of a Maltese politician attempting to use SLAPP against a journalist in order to silence her.  Chris Cardona conceded the libel case after Daphne Caruana Galizia obtained triangulation data which was about to show his exact position on the date in question.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated in a car bomb attack in October 2017.

Around the 2019 European Parliament elections, Joseph Muscat was touted for a European Union post, possibly as the successor to Donald Tusk as head of the European Council.

Kurt Farrugia, his communications manager, was sure that he was going to make it. He was wrong, quite wrong.

Joseph Muscat’s bid failed miserably because his image had been ruined by the Caruana Galizia murder and the large number of reports of European institutions warning about the wearing away of the rule of law in Malta.

In late November 2019, Muscat’s premiership was rocked by the arrest of prominent businessman Yorgen Fenech and the implication of Muscat’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, in relation to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Towards the end of November 2019, after a six-hour cabinet meeting, Muscat informed the President of Malta George Vella that he would soon be resigning his duties as Prime Minister.

It was around this time that Joseph Muscat hit his political rock bottom.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project named Muscat “Man of the Year in Organized Crime and Corruption” for 2019.

That was the only award conferred to Joseph Muscat. That is his legacy, and that is how he is going to be remembered in the history of Maltese politics.

Yet, even now, four years after his resignation, his name, and that of his closest sidekicks, still crops up whenever there is a whiff of corruption in Malta.

The OCCRP together with The Shift and The Times of Malta, have analysed Muscat’s income declarations in a corruption inquiry related to the Vitals and Steward hospital deal.

Another ‘strange’ consultancy given to Joseph Muscat surfaced last Sunday. It was revealed that Joseph was handed a rewarding €11,800 monthly ‘parrot’ consultancy for a loss-making exotic bird company owned by casino tycoon Johann Schembri.

Strangely, this happened a few months after he masterminded a ‘disgraceful’ government deal involving the extension of the property lease for the Dragonara Casino by 64 years without the issue of a public tender. The deal saved the Dragonara Casino millions of euros.

According to financial experts, consultancy agreements are frequently used as a tool to hide the real reasons behind certain transactions.

Assuming that he still reigns supreme as emperor of our fair island, Muscat has unleashed an unprecedented attack on the judiciary in particular on the magistrate investigating him.

Joseph Muscat also requested that she recuse herself. She flatly refused, putting him in his place.

But his charade continues, maybe also comforted by the fact that Emmanuel Cuschieri is standing by his side.

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3 months ago

Imma Chowżeff tagħna jibqa’ l-Kink, hiii! Għax takom tkaxkira…etc., etc, etc!!! 😉

Last edited 3 months ago by Wenzu
Joe l ghasfur
Joe l ghasfur
3 months ago
Reply to  Wenzu

Hallina Wenz. Bil voti kollha li gab hexa pajjiz. Jien irid pajjizi fejn uliedi ghandom futur u jibqghu jghixu hawn bil kwiet. Mhux gab lil Malta il qahba tal Ewropa.

Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe l ghasfur

“Fejn huma l-provi?” kienu jistaqsu. Issa jistgħu jaqrawhom fi ktieb jew tnejn,

3 months ago
Reply to  Wenzu

Do you mean King of corruption? In that case you have said something right.

Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
3 months ago
Reply to  Wenzu

HipHIp Hurray!

3 months ago

A big thank you to Joe Azzopardi.
It has become no comparison between PL and PN.

Quite a lot of the ordinary voters were misled by the dark and hidden path of Joseph Muscat (who pretends to be a man of honor until today). 
Still lacking today is the deep and profoundly honest apology from the PL and the Govt for the shameful and slanderous misdeeds. 
(No wonder the foster child ROBBER Abela is too ashamed for a tribute to the great deeds of Daphne Capuana Galizia. Probably it is by far too late for that too. 

Every politician leaves a legacy. 

Great light I can see in Roberta Metsola. More and more every year.

In fact, more and more is coming to light from Joseph Muscat and his GovernGang. 
It seems that it is so blinding that this is causing more and more tears on so many faces here in Malta.

3 months ago

Another sad element of the history of the Muscat (and Abela) years is that both have not used the large majorities they received in elections, resulting in a massive seat advantage, to bring about the deep and serious changes that this country needs which have in the past been avoided by Governments with smaller majorities.

this has been a massive missed opportunity for the country which was traded in for the personal gain of the few.

charles cilia
charles cilia
3 months ago

Muscat a Court Jester, Artful Dodger and habitual Swindler who forages on Gahans.

3 months ago

A good summary in hindsight of the political developments during the past two decades.

I have been following these developments in Malta from November 2019 to January 2020 and I only remember that the protesters on the streets and places, almost on a daily basis, demanded Joseph Muscat to resign from office. What they did not demand was a snap GE in order to give the electorate to vote on a new government. I have no idea why this part was simply omitted. Some might say that this might have got more to do with the PN and its infights, lack of leadership within the party and so on. Still, the PN itself wasn’t that much at the forefront of this development. In fact it was the NGO Repubblika that came to the fore and did most of the actions. But alas, the perception and the impression of those months can differ on a personal level.

Whether the Muscat cabinet had given in to demands of a snap GE remains questionable because it cannot be answered. I regard this as a missed chance when the civil society movement was still in full swing and had the backing of a huge amount of people.

This review of recent developments show that it takes some time to organise mass protests and thus gain the back up from at least some part of the whole people in Malta. What in my view has put a full stop to this, as I like to call it, ‘small revolution’ was the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and all the measures taken by the government. Since then, it looks rather hard to revive the spirit of November 2019 and resume with where the small revolution has stopped.

This Covid-19 pandemic was in hindsight like ‘a gift from above’ for the PL govt, and to the civil society movement in Malta like a strike of bad fate. The PL was using all efforts during this pandemic to show the people that the government cares for their needs and tried to have the people forget about the recent scandals and to rather become indifferent to the new scandals revealed ever since. The fact that the PL had it again to win by a landslide in the 2022 GE is in my view also a result of the circumstances during the pandemic years, and the effects it had on the population.

The civil society movement in Malta missed the chance to call for a snap GE while demanding the resignation of Joseph Muscat when the pressure was still doing its work. Two years later, the electorate in its majority once again voted for the PL and confirmed them in power. Things are developing to the worst since then and I think that one hasn’t seen the end of it yet.

Now, in 2024 there is the next chance to pay the PL back for their corruption. Next year there are local council elections in Malta and the EP elections. If the electorate in Malta votes in its majority against the PL and theoretically reduces their number of seats in the EP, it would be at least some signal sent to them. If the PL loses more votes in the local council elections in Malta, it’ll certainly have some impact on the PL because that is what they cannot ignore.

I don’t think that the career of Ms Metsola has reached its peak yet. She is handled as the next candidate for becoming the President of the EU Commission, a more powerful office in compare to what she currently holds. If she makes it to become President of the EU Commission, she would have the means to put more pressure on the PL govt. That is also some important aspect which the PL cannot ignore. More so, because the PL cannot fool Ms Metsola and they know that perfectly well.

There are less then four years to go until the next GE in Malta and those chances, even when seen remotely or indirectly, could be taken in order to weaken the PL’s power. Otherwise, they will only see themselves as being on the right track and becoming more excessive in many ways, worse than during the past couple of years.

The best way to achieve something is to have a cross-party and societal opposition to the present government and if the months from November 2019 to January 2020 haven’t shown how successful one can be by the back up of many people, I don’t know what else has come to pass yet to make the people think and get together and vote for a change in government.

If these chances aren’t used to at least make a point and send a message to the high ranking PLers ‘acting on behalf’ of Joseph Muscat, one is doomed to sit here in four years to come and write articles about the chances missed. Not taken or ignored, but still left to complain about the PL being confirmed in power for another five years. That would guarantee them their ruling until 2032. That’s not quite the best prospect isn’t it?

The civil society has won with the resignation of Joseph Muscat, but apart form some NGOs, Repubblika respectively which is always at the forefront, but it lost time because of not preparing enough for a switch in votes at the last GE. If the years ahead are not taken for preparation, the civil society will find itself on the losing end once again.

That is my conclusion from the developments of the past couple of years and frankly, it isn’t enough to have ‘a strong leader’, a leader also has to have the ability to convince people and show them that there is a reliable alternative to vote for. But undermining the leadership of the present PN leader is just a means to demonstrate the split within the opposition and I think that Dr Grech can be a person to persuade or convince people to vote for a change, but he also needs the back up from within his own party, unless there is another alternative like Repubblika to vote for. But at the present, that is not the case.

It is easy to say that ‘Malta deserves better’, but for that one has to take efforts to bring about the change needed by forming a united opposition. That is the more tricky thing in all this. It is a tricky thing because it appears to me that vanity fair still prevails underneath the surface of the various groups of NGOs and parties in Malta.

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