On the 23rd May 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the world’s largest election with a landslide victory, being re-elected as the PM of the biggest democratic nation in the world for the second consecutive term. Just three days later, his Maltese counterpart Joseph Muscat’s Labour party won the MEP elections with another massive margin… but the comparisons don’t stop there.
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) May 26, 2019
Following the bilateral meeting between the two which happened last January at Gujarat, the Indian and Maltese leaders have discussed endless possibilities about commercial ties regarding IT, pharma and better airline connections. Both Muscat and Modi also vowed to cooperate in harnessing solar energy to its full potential.
Dr. Joseph Muscat welcomed India’s potential sectors to Malta as the entrance gates for the European and African markets, also inviting India’s advanced technological input in Malta’s booming areas like AI & Blockchain.
But beyond meeting face to face and both accomplishing massive victories, it seems like there’s a deeper channel of similarity between the two.
Here are some of the common (and not-so-common) ways how the ‘M’ factor has played a major part in both India and Malta’s democracies in the last decade.
1. Different ideologies but the same approach
Modi has been labelled as a Hindu Nationalist who follows the ideology of favouring Hindu identity in India. Dr. Muscat has been known to diversify the culture and open Malta’s gates to different communities, exposing the islands to a much larger picture.
Muscat and Modi may follow different mindsets for their respective nations, but their approach towards their citizens is very similar; always pushing for developmental growth with a flair for cultural movement.
2. Lack of opposition
Opposition plays an integral part in any democracy, and the lack of it is the nightmare of any nation. India and Malta have seen the continuous growth of a single party over the last 10 years, but what drives the popularity of these parties even further is the lack of a united opposition.
Where India is suffering from a ‘legacy-driven’ Congress party, Malta’s very own once-huge PN doesn’t show too different of a picture. Adrian Delia’s election campaign and philosophies have mostly failed to hit their mark, missing out on single agendas major opposition parties ought to pick and sometimes even dividing those who oppose Muscat even further.
3. Social media engagement
Social media has obviously drastically changed the level of communication between citizens and politicians, with the public being given a sneak peek into the lives of their leaders, where they are… and even what they’re eating.
Usage of social media – especially during election times – has changed the whole scenario of the campaigns. Political parties are now opting for online marketing campaigns rather than the traditional approaches.
Modi is the most talked about leader in social media right now, with more than 47 million followers on Twitter and 43 million on Facebook. You could in fact say his general election victory was the most successful online campaign in history.
His counterpart Muscat also follows the same regime. Very popular in a wide array of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Muscat has a die-hard fan following of over 94K people on Facebook and approximately 75K on Twitter. Beyond a vast following, however, Muscat is also famously active on certain social media, clearly understanding how important it is to always stay ahead of the game.
In fact, beyond their sheer number of followers, both leaders also push for a high level of engagement with their thousands of followers.
4. Double is not the trouble
Dr. Joseph Muscat is currently serving his second term as PM while his Indian “doppelgänger” is set to yet again take oath to get his second term started. A leader serving two terms back-to-back quickly becomes the prevalent tone of the country.
The ‘M’ factor played a major part in the promotion and rise of both Muscat and Modi within their respective parties and countries, as the two put themselves at the very forefront of the elections… even if Malta’s election last weekend was actually about MEPs and Local Councils.
5. International popularity
Narendra Modi and Joseph Muscat have a strong foot in the international domain and are liked by many diplomacies due to their wide narrative and populist ideologies.
Modi’s international visits have always been a key highlight of his last tenure as PM, and although it has been highly criticised by the opposition, it resulted in high goodwill for Indian nationals among the world.
The story is not so different here in Malta, as Muscat is highly regarded within the EU commission. His gestures and words towards British people on the whole Brexit fiasco have also been appraised all around, and he’s even gone out of his way to strengthen ties with European leaders like France’s Emanuel Macron.
6. Economical ties… and their implications
Modi has been accused of putting religion and community over the country’s long-term goals, while Muscat is regularly blamed of accentuating socio-economic movements over some of the country’s more traditionally-held beliefs.
Again, while the two leaders’ endgames are quite different, the ways in which they get there – or are criticised for trying to do so – are more similar than you might think.
BONUS: Love for Indian food
Though it will be obvious for the Indian PM, even Muscat loves Indian food and has a strong appetite for traditional Indian cuisine and flavour.
And if that isn’t perfect proof of strong similarities between the two, then what is?
Whether politically or culturally (or both), both Modi and Muscat have emerged as strong leaders
They are highly talked about in international territories and within their own walls, and have pushed great strives in development. At the same time, though, both India and Malta are going through a rough phase of divisive politics. Even after insisting on a ‘Unity in Diversity’ policy, Muscat has still been ineffective in uniting Malta as one.
However, it does seem like, hate it or love it, the ‘M’ factor in India and Malta is working efficiently for a whole lot of people.