The Nationalist Party is hardly having the best of times in attracting youths to its cause, with surveys consistently showing the Labour Party now enjoys more than double its support among them.
Yet there are a group of teenagers who are raging against the dying of the light, some of whom have even joined the Team Start Council, a new PN branch set up for 14-18 year olds. Given a platform at last month’s General Council, they used their brief speaking time to flag this country’s problems, with property prices, education and the environment chief among them.
Malta, meet your future politicians.
Thomas De Martino (Team Start president)
“The role of youths within the party is no longer a commodity but a necessity, because the government has forgotten us. You don’t help youths by giving us a bonus at the start of the year while then creating a crisis in the housing sector which prevents us from renting, let alone purchasing, property.”
“It’s useless having free public transport if buses are always full, and its pointless boasting about civil liberties when critical people are labelled as traitors or silenced forever. We must present policies of hope, policies of the people in the face of a government of numbers."
"We must represent that young man who comes from a family of farmers but cannot fulfill his wish to follow in their footsteps because the government is killing off this sector. We must represent that young girl who wants to find a bit of open space to relax in after a long day at school but who can only find tall blocks of apartments, because the government doesn’t care about the environment or open spaces so long as it fattens the pockets of its clique.”
“We must represent those Gozitan youths who want to study at the University of Malta but who have to practically beg to find a place to rent and still cannot, because rents have more than doubled in recent years and the government has no intention of remedying it.”
Kristina Sant Sinagra
“To be honest, I didn’t used to care that much about politics but when I took a good look around me, I realised how Malta is regressing.”
“How can you not enter politics when Malta is ranked 4th in the world with regards bad air quality, when the environment is deteriorating, when we can see people sleeping on the streets and when the government is allowing rents to explode as they have?”
“Just look at how PL councillor Mark Grech had posted on social media that the economy is doing well, but that a person paying €600 rent shouldn’t suddenly be told to pay €1,000 before the contract is even up. The government is keeping its hands in its pockets, and even youths themselves must work to at least buy an apartment and the government treats it all as a joke.”
“Let’s not waste the opportunity presented to us by Vot16 and let’s show that the PN truly cares about us youths. As Adrian Delia recently said: ‘Stand up to be counted’. Starting with myself, I was the type of girl who was always listening to music on my headphones or messaging people on Instagram, but now I must unplug this headphones from my ears and start listening to other youths."
"I must use social media to understand what youths want and I must meet youths to discuss these issues and not lock myself up in my room. As Rachel Platten said in her song ‘Fight Song’, I might only have one match but I can make an explosion. Listen to this song, thats how we can truly change our future.”
Eve Borg Bonello
“The government expects me to praise it for giving me a vote [at 16] and a voice, but then God forbid I use that voice to criticise it because I’ll be branded a traitor who should be ashamed of herself.”
“Malta is currently going through an interesting spin. The economy is growing like a rose in springtime but there are people who don’t have a roof over their heads in the middle of winter. Skyscrapers are being built but youths cannot even afford to rent a garage to sleep in, let alone the castles of the few. We are building new roads but polluting our air, to the point where it is the most polluted in Europe.”
“More students are graduating from university but Malta has one of the highest rate of students who drop out at 16 years old. We gave youths a vote, but these same youths, along with their educators, are victims of a broken system which only sees numbers and not ideas and people.”
“We boast about feminism but we teach women that the only way they can get elected is by tampering with democracy instead of striving for a more inclusive society. The government keeps saying it is liberal but there's nothing liberal in Daphne’s murder, in the murder of freedom of expression. There's nothing liberal in a government that's becoming autocratic and which doesn’t admit its mistake. No one is perfect but we’ll never progress as a strong democracy if we keep ignoring our defects.”
“It would be convenient for me if I were to do nothing and not get involved and I were to focus more on the so-called best years of my life, but I cannot remain silent when I see the atrocious state my country is in.”
“Our education system is failing students. We have the highest rate of students who don’t proceed to tertiary education in all of Europe, and we recently heard of students who were given the same exam as the previous year.”
“Malta has a shortage of teachers and some children are now being taught in containers. The education system is depleting the passion youths have for life and country. Students are losing heart and those who graduate, after long years of sacrifice, are paid as though they hadn’t got their qualifications in the first place. Youths have been forgotten.”
Jean Paul Barbara
“Unfortunately, many youths tell me they are scared to enter politics because they or their relatives could end up victims of a vindictive transfer. Have heart though. Many youths are joining the PN because they don’t fear this government and because they know the party stands four-square behind them.”
“Adrian Delia has opened the doors to everyone and spends his days meeting people to feel the public pulse. The PN’s genuine interest in people is evident whenever people come to Dar Centrali for a revision of their water and electricity bills and when Adrian Delia took the Vitals case in hand so that the Maltese can get their hospitals back.”
“Meanwhile, the government has forgotten how many people have ended up without a roof over their heads, who are living in garages and who cannot afford to pay high rents.”
“While the few are lapping it up in unbridled luxury, the many are suffering poverty in silence. In the so-called best of times, all types of poverty are popping up all around us and we can see people who must choose between feeding their children and paying off their increasingly expensive rent.”
“We are also witnessing poverty in education. The PN government built a state of the art school every year during a period of global recession, but the government is placing students in containers.”
"I agreed to contest the Birkirkara local council elections because I always wanted to improve my locality and its residents. I am conducting frequent house visits and many residents have told me of the state of dilapidation in the town and of the lack of cleanliness and parking in the streets.”
“Residents deserve high-quality streets that are built after a long-term plan has been implemented. It’s useless for government to say it will spend €700 million to fix the roads when it is doing absolutely nothing in terms of long-term planning.”
“When Malta joined the EU, there were those who warned that foreigners would take our jobs and who said we should aspire to become a Switzerland in the Mediterranean instead. However, the Maltese people overcame this fear, stuck with Eddie Fenech Adami and voted in favour of the EU. Nowadays we are Maltese, European and proud, and many youths have seized the opportunity to pursue their studies abroad.”
“The PN brought several industries to Malta, that’s when we were truly in the best of times, but now others have destroyed the reputation we built up as a country because they only care about themselves. PN governments had built a school every year but we now have containers instead not schools. PN governments invested in Mater Dei and the Gozo Hospital, but the people currently running the Gozo Hospital don’t even have the necessary experience in health.”