A young female candidate planning to contest the next election on the Nationalist Party’s ticket has explained why she didn’t exactly feel at home within the party, and had to leave it.
Tiffany Abela-Wadge had hoped to put issues relating to women’s rights – such as access to basic contraception and reproductive rights – on the PN’s agenda. However, she quickly discovered that she might be following a long and difficult path.
Abela-Wadge spoke to Lovin Malta about why she decided to leave the PN.
Though it may be surprising to some, Abela-Wadge, who is the wife of former Msida coucillor Alan Abela-Wadge, had hoped to combine traditional PN values with more modern values that, she feels, are important to a large swathe of the Maltese electorate.
But it didn’t exactly go down like she planned.
“The party seem to want to steer clear of my way of politics, which is about being here and now, and not stuck in the ’80s,” she told Lovin Malta.
“It seems like they were just repeating what already happened with issues like divorce and gay marriage,” she continued. “First, the party opposes everything, then all of a sudden it’s OK down the line; I’d like a party to choose a stand and stick to it, even if it’s not something I personally believe in. If you decide on a no, stick to the no.”
Though she was only part of the PN for a few months, Abela-Wadge felt like she was beginning to understand how they worked internally – and it wasn’t exactly matching with her modern perspective.
When asked if she believed the PN was still in favour of internal discussions, she replied ambiguously.
“To be fair, they are not really open to even listening to your views, let alone discussing,” she said clearly. “I’m the type of person that if you don’t agree with me, you can try to convince me and I’ll still listen to you. But I wasn’t never given much chance to talk, it was more like a lecture in there. And when it comes from a man from a certain age, it’s like: ‘these issues have never affected you, or will ever affect you…”
Since leaving, a couple of prominent women within the PN had reached out to her, expressing sympathy and agreeing with her that female voices continue to be in the minority in the PN. Though she appreciated their honesty, she still feels distant from the party now.
Abela-Wadge recounted one particular incident that left a very bad taste in her mouth
“I had done an interview with an online portal, very lowkey, and I spoke about tubal ligation, when a female ties her tubes. I’m just married, in my early 30s, I’m living it, and I can tell you, it takes so long to find a doctor who would agree to do it, and when you do, all they do is ask you to bring your husband over to sign a consent form…”
After raising the issue and finishing the interview, the party called her up.
“After all that, they told me off, saying the topics I raised were not on the agenda… I didn’t even say anything special, I was talking about access to basic contraception, it’s not like I walked into a church and shouted that I wanted abortion!”
“They told me: ‘You should have informed the party before, and then maybe the party would have suggested someone else to attend the interview’. At the end of the day, I am a woman living this personally…”
Since leaving, Volt, Malta’s newest and most liberal party, contacted her to see if she wanted to join.
“I’m happy they reached out to me as well, but I’m not sure about joining them just yet, I need to see more, but it looks hopeful for a liberal party in Malta,” she said.
Looking back at her time within the PN, Abela-Wadge is wistful.
“Honestly, I only met (party leader) Bernard Grech once, and it was after I resigned, so I never really met him, and he didn’t really give me the impression that these things were coming from him, though I could be mistaken.”
“Honestly though,” she ended,” there’s too many people in that party that have been there defeat after defeat. And they keep getting more and more important roles… and I think it’s them that really pull the strings.”
What do you make of Abela-Wadge’s perspective?