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Opinion: Your Vote Carries More Weight Than You Think – The Dangerous Rise Of Right-Wing Populism In Malta

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While we consume the political atmosphere of the upcoming Local Council and European elections, there is a very much-needed dose of independent and third-party runners, which is healthy in any state to combat the pluralism of politics – especially in Malta, where there is still a tribalist approach to political affiliation through a carefully maintained binary system of choice and political mentality.

Third and independent parties do not give the illusion of choice but combat the disillusioned mentality of “vot moħli” if you were to vote for anyone but a contender from the two major political parties – a trend we see on the rise on a national level from the last general election, with the number of people who abstained from voting and those that voted for a third party doubling, while recording an increased interest from independent candidates in the Local Council elections.

In as much as people are rightly discontent at the two-party system within the current political landscape, in the hopes of disrupting the political current status quo, we have blind-sighted ourselves in a forgiving manner by becoming complacent in the rise of a popular and threatening third-party contending the elections. As people showed their frustration, poked fun, and made memes on seeing Norman Lowell’s campaign video instead of an anticipated Love Island Malta episode a few days back, perhaps the symbolism and imagery of the neo-nazi populist movement was not felt in its urgency.

Self-prescribed or not, Imperium Europa and its cult-of-personality party leader Normal Lowell is a far-right, racist (or racialist as they self-prescribe), neo-fascist, anti-semitic, islamophobic, homophobic, anti-immigrant (unless the immigrant happens to be European), nativist, xenophobic, and white-nationalist movement. Norman Lowell is running for MEP, and he is the most popular (as of writing) third-party candidate running in the upcoming MEP elections. Read that again. If this doesn’t raise concern, it certainly should.

Unfortunately, for some, the issues we might take offense to are ones that apply to our communities and us directly, issues we can relate to or empathize with.

So, if for some reason, you are not concerned, offended, or bothered by the plethora of adjectives above used to describe Imperium Europa and party leader Norman Lowell, then maybe you might find offense to the fact that he is a supporter that babies born with disabilities should be killed. Norman Lowell has also made openly degrading and misogynistic comments about Maltese women very recently in an interview with Leħnek, and he has a history of doing so in the past by also adding a segregationist racial hatred in the mix by identifying which ethnicities Maltese women should “breed” with.

We shouldn’t take these comments above as the only reason to be disgusted by him or to raise concern – his whole hate-driven politics is dangerous for society and dangerous for democracy.

Norman Lowell has carved a separate label for himself and the party, calling themselves racialists as opposed to racist, which is more akin to and has a grave parallel to colonial-era scientific racism and white supremacy.

Ironically, Imperium Europa echoes the same sentiments of white supremacy and racialization adopted by the British Empire, in which Maltese were put outside the periphery of whiteness to justify our colonization and oppression, in the same manner that Imperium Europa wants to adopt it on a pan-European stage.

However, this doesn’t change the fact that since the European Parliamentary elections in 2004, Norman’s popularity has increased every time over every election cycle, meaning people are increasingly voting for him. I want to preface that I do not think that people who are thinking of voting or have voted for Imperium Europa are all fascists – at least, I hope not. However, the fact that his popularity is continuously growing is both worrying and telling of the current anxieties facing Maltese society.

The truth of the matter is that Norman Lowell leverages populist discourse and demagoguery through his hate speech and racial animosity to rile up people discontent with an aspect of Maltese society, in which he uses immigrants and minorities as scapegoats. You don’t have to look further from his political campaign to identify this strategy, or his manifesto, or his eccentric speeches which are littered with inconsistencies, ironies, and contradictions. What makes Lowell’s point palatable for those who support him amidst the ridiculous supremacist, fascist, and racist ideology is the fact that he points to problems facing the country that people are dealing with.

Yet, as mentioned, he frames issues the country is facing, such as environmental degradation, overpopulation, low birth rate, quality of education, high living cost, brain drain, and preservation of language, by misdirecting and appealing to the simplest and lowest form of right-wing populist discourse through a saviour aura which more or less can be boiled down to “blame everything on the foreigners, I know best, we are the last line of defense, only I can deliver you to greatness, the Holocaust never happened” (yes he actually said the last part).

I started this article by stating that we clinically need the role of third parties and independent runners to foster a healthier democracy, which was for a reason – I don’t want this opinion piece to be misconstrued to favor the current polarized way we do politics in Malta. If anything, this shows that third parties have the capacity to be contenders and disrupt the blue and red-dominated field of politics. However – if we are not careful with whom we’re fueling to be the disruptor, it can just as well backfire in the worst way possible. The collective power of voting is in our hands – we can decide if we want it used to further democratize and disseminate partisan politics or to give a stage, a voice, a vote, and a presence to fascism in Europe. Again.

Ryder’s slogan is comically “We’ve had worse.” With the current trajectory of Imperium Ewropa in the upcoming MEP elections, perhaps it’s only right to end this with a reality check. It can get a hell of a lot worse.

Lovin Malta is open to interesting, compelling guest posts from third parties. These opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of the company. Submit your piece at [email protected]

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