Putting yourself out there as an election candidate is difficult on a good day. Doing it within Malta’s current political scenario is basically madness.
If you candidature yourself with Labour, you’re automatically accused of justifying corruption, enabling the rape of our environment and helping turn Malta into a one-party state. If you choose PN, you’re immediately blamed for the party’s past mistakes, its current organisational incompetence and aiding a leader who should have resigned months ago.
And whereas in the past you could have found some idealistic redemption in joining one of the smaller parties, even that can’t be argued anymore. Both PD and AD have imploded throughout this campaign, proving they can barely agree with themselves, let alone attract decent levels of support. Even blatant Nazism is polling better.
Yet, despite the abysmal state of Malta’s political parties, there are several decent candidates across all parties who have taken the plunge and they deserve our consideration. Here’s why.
Malta has six seats in the European Parliament, which is where most laws that really affect us originate. It is a crucial platform on which Malta worked extremely hard to earn its place.
These six MEPs are the people you will turn to if you experience an injustice that cannot be remedied in Malta. They’re the people who will represent Malta when important discussions take place, such as whether Malta should be forced to change its tax regime or whether roaming should be abolished. They’re the people who will be your voice on an international stage when war breaks out or when climate change impacts us closely.
They will be lobbied by big business and NGOs. They will have the ability to propose new laws. They will be given lots of media coverage and lots of resources – much more resources than our MPs have on a local level.
They can do a lot of good with their seats. Or they can squander our money away doing nothing.
Regardless of whether you will vote on Saturday, Malta will elect these six MEPs. By not voting, you are letting that decision be taken by someone else.
And don’t fool yourself into thinking all candidates are equal or stand for the same things. There are some radical differences, even between candidates of the same parties.
When Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says this election is about him and Adrian Delia, he is doing a disservice to all the candidates who have put themselves out there. This is not about him, even though he wants it to be since it’s supposedly the last election he will head.
These elections are not even a referendum about abortion, despite what PN leader Adrian Delia says, even though that may be one issue which helps you determine the candidates you choose.
These elections are simply about choosing the six best people for the job and the ones you trust most to represent your ideals.
Sure, your Number One will have an impact on how these elections are analysed and which party gets most seats. So take your time to see which party to choose first.
If you really disapprove of Joseph Muscat, perhaps you should refrain from giving Labour your first vote. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore all the other candidates, many of whom have a proven track record. Remember Muscat should be leaving after this election, so he won’t even be able to puppeteer his MEPs.
And if you really want Delia to go, you might want to avoid giving a PN candidate your first vote. Or else, you could work hard to make sure there’s a new leadership candidate ready to put themselves out there when he eventually gives up. Hopefully he will come to the conclusion Simon Busuttil should have come to when he lost the MEP elections badly: that he simply does not have what it takes to turnaround his party’s fortunes.
Quite frankly, whatever the outcome of Saturday’s election, anyone half-competent can unseat Delia today as long as they have the balls to put themselves out there.
And that’s just it, right? Whoever has submitted themselves to this election (or any election for that matter) has done something the rest of us are afraid to do.
We may bitch and complain about the quality of candidates and our parties, but that’s not going to change anything.
Your vote, however, can change the outcome. It can help put the right people in those six seats. And it can encourage even better candidates to step forward next time.
The least our candidates deserve is for us to take 10 minutes of our day and choose the ones who have appealed to us most and who we trust to do a decent job. If you’re really lost as to who that may be, just speak to someone you know who is fair, objective and paying attention. I’m sure they could suggest a few names.
And if not, take the time to visit the Facebook pages of the candidates and learn what they each stand for. Whatever you do, don’t blame these hardworking candidates for the mistakes of their parties. In fact, probably the best thing to do is to vote across parties and send a message that this election is not about partisanship but about choosing Malta’s six seats.