Serving in Parliament since 2004, Roderick Galdes is not only one of Malta’s most veteran MPs but has spearheaded some important housing reforms as Social Accommodation Minister.
Lovin Malta sat down with Galdes to get his view on the Maltese political system, including the notorious personal pjaċiri and whether the electoral system needs to change.
This is what we learned.
1. He believes it is easy to keep a clean and honest reputation
Some people argue that politics will eventually smear even the best-intentioned of politicians, someway somehow, but Galdes disagrees.
“It is easy [to keep a clean and honest reputation] as you have to look at that person’s values and principles,” he said. “If those are the pillars you base your politics on, then you shouldn’t have a problem because those principles never die.”
2. He is proud of the social aspect of his politics
With this in mind, it makes sense that he views the “social element” of his style of politics as his strongest political trait.
“It’s politics based on social values; understand that times are changing but at the same time foster the same principles you held throughout by implementing reforms,” Galdes explained.
In contrast, his biggest disappointment is that a lot of the work he’s done has been overshadowed by bad news about the government.
“The bad news probably pales in comparison to all the good that’s been done, but it will still get more attention,” he said.
3. Rent reform is his biggest political achievement so far
As the minister responsible for housing, Galdes has been put in charge of some extremely hot potatoes, with Malta’s past experience showing that policy decisions on the housing market can shape a generation.
He spearheaded the 2019 reform of the private rental market, Malta’s first attempt in decades to regulate the sector in the wake of booming prices.
More recently, Galdes presented a reform to the notorious pre-1995 rental agreements, an attempt to strike a delicate balance between the rights of people to their own property and the rights of mostly-elderly tenants not to end up homeless.
“My style of politics has always been that of consulting and researching, which was what we did in these two reforms,” he said. “It was a heated issue that took months of discussion but we reached a solution in the end.”
4. He believes it’s time to update the electoral system
The Labour Party has called for a national discussion on the future of Malta’s electoral system, which is based on proportional representation via the Single Transferrable Vote, and Galdes is one of those who believes the system needs to be updated.
“I think our electoral system has served us well for decades, but a change is still needed,” he explained. “We need to create a system that will guarantee the full representation of everyone, but at the same time ensure we’re kept updated with the times. Ultimately, our system is based very much on the English model.”
5. His view on political favours changed over time
Galdes admitted that when he started out in politics, he used to believe that politicians needed to promise personal favours (pjaċiri) to constituents in order to get elected. However, over time, he said such favours aren’t as important to politicians as some people think they are.
“In reality, there are many, many people who have never asked anything of politicians but vote anyway. I meet these people and I’m convinced that many of the electorate which votes for us are people who never asked politicians for anything.”
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that our politics is based on that type of political narrative.”
6. He views post-pandemic inflation as one of Malta’s greatest challenges
Asked what he thinks Malta’s most important issue is, Galdes warned that countries now seeking to economically recover from the pandemic have found out that there isn’t enough supply to meet the demand, including for energy.
“If you look at transport expenses and the cost of certain goods… this isn’t only going to affect us but the whole world.”
“On the other hand, we’ve seen people become more environmentally conscious post-pandemic. People are in favour of a better quality of life and of conserving nature. A little virus has totally changed our lifestyle.”
7. He thinks Malta’s biggest weakness is its political polarisation
Galdes believes that while Malta’s biggest strength lies in its organisational advantage by virtue of being a small island state, its greatest weakness resides in its political polarisation.
“Unfortunately, colonisation divided us on many issues and I think it’s a weakness when it comes to issues we need to unite on but don’t because our culture has divided us. We don’t need to agree on political issues but why take it personally and speak of issues solely in terms of red and blue?”
This article was paid for by Roderick Galdes MP. It is a sponsored article that forms part of a Lovin Malta series ‘Meet Your MP’ offered to MPs who intend to contest the next general election.
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