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Politics shapes everything around us. It is not a fundamental force embedded within the laws of the universe: it is not cut from the same conceptual cloth as gravity, space, or time. It is a man-made, complex, and extremely fragile hierarchy of power which we use to organise everything we do, and like any other human system, if someone builds a gateway, someone else will eventually find a work-around.

It is those work-arounds, those systemic abuses which undermine democratic structures and cement the power wielded by hidden financial interests, which are worth paying the closest attention to. Those work-arounds are the reason why refugees are arbitrarily and illegally held in detention, why the roadworks outside your house take longer than it took to build the whole neighbourhood, why our natural environment keeps getting eroded at the behest of the same people digging up your street with heavy machinery.

This is, of course, my understanding of how it works. I’m aware that for a significant chunk of the electoral population, the traditional voter base of each major political party, it is different. Their understanding remains firmly rooted in the idea that a political party is relevant to you as an individual insofar as it manages to secure the advancement of what you perceive as your interests.

However, I also think it is premature and somewhat dangerous to assume that a trend which was established in the past will hold equally true in the future, especially with something which is as subject to human whims as politics is.

A look at Times of Malta’s big Sunday poll makes for exasperating reading. The headline – which predicts a 33,800 vote margin in favour of the Labour Party – is derived from an assumption made by the surveying firm’s machine learning model, which assumes undecided voters’ intentions based on past voting trends and a subsequent analysis of those trends. The newspaper expresses a measure of confidence in the accuracy of this method, pointing out that it predicted the results of the 2022 general elections almost perfectly.

The only problem with this is that, in reality, 33% of respondents suggested that they are not likely to vote. While past elections have indicated that this demographic is set to shrink as the election approaches, the fact that a third of respondents suggested that they do not wish to vote is significant and aligns with findings of other periodical surveys conducted by MaltaToday.

The Times of Malta poll further indicates that there are far more disgruntled Labour voters than Nationalist voters, and that 40% of people aged between 25 and 34 remain undecided, with a staggering 46% of all voters indicating that they haven’t even picked a favourite candidate for the MEP elections.

I will certainly not imply that my ability to predict what will happen based on past trends could ever hope to compete with the combined processing power of artificial intelligence and professional analysts. But I will go out on a limb and state that 33% of your respondents indicating that they do not wish to vote should be outlined for what it clearly is: a sign of a country in crisis. To say that I’ve been harping on about this point for ages would be an understatement at this point.

More importantly, a 33% margin of uncertainty means that your assumption – even if it is an assumption that is buttressed by the predictive capability of the machine gods – is extremely wide, and therefore, subject to far more unpredictability than such a headline might let on.

Think about it. The only surefire bets within the pool of candidates for the MEP elections are the safest ones. Roberta Metsola, whose profile as a politician has soared to unprecedented heights following her election as president of the European Parliament, and Alex Agius Saliba, the Labour Party’s go-to bulldog in the European Parliament. Both of them have, in very different ways, managed to successfully utilise the power of their incumbency to exert an evident amount of influence on the electorate. The others are barely a blip on the radar.

So, what we have is this: a situation in which a third of the electorate, a huge segment which becomes even more pronounced within younger demographics, finds itself either unable to commit to either party or even indicate who their preferred choices for MEPs would be.

In other words, the zeitgeist of the upcoming elections seems like it bears the same kind of energy one would reserve for those persistent purveyors of unwanted pamphlets in your mailbox: it’s more of a ‘fuck off, I’m not interested’ survey than it is another surefire electoral heist orchestrated by the Labour Party. It also signals a worrying lurch towards the far-right, given that the percentage of voters who seem to be willing to subject the rest of society to the formalisation of their racist prejudices seems larger than the one which is willing to consider alternatives like Sandra Gauci’s ADPD.

What is really worrying is that in spite of the clear signals of distrust in both major political parties, Maltese voters are still in the process of hedging their bets on either one or the other, as if it were normal to even consider voting for the Labour Party that has single-handedly plunged Malta into previously unknown abysses of corruption, as if it were normal to even consider voting for the Nationalist Party that has failed to successfully capitalise on the government’s disastrous record with the rule of law and spent most of its time wallowing in its own misery instead.

At this stage, both parties deserve an electoral drubbing, and the only clean way to deliver such a drubbing is to vote for the only alternative parties there are – that is, ADPD and Volt Malta – which have decent ideas, do not have any of the baggage that either major party has, and are not fomenting hatred and racism like Imperium Europa does. And before you think of this as an endorsement, understand first and foremost that this is an objective assessment based on a sobering truth: neither the Labour Party nor the Nationalist Party are fit to represent the country in any forum.

Not voting simply means that the pool of decision-makers is going to shrink, concentrating the power to determine who will sit on the country’s local councils and MEP seats in the hands of those who are generally either loyal to one major party or the other or are otherwise considering far nastier options like that scumbag Norman Lowell.

While I firmly believe that one must go beyond voting to contribute to a nation’s democracy, the fact is that such a vote is one of the only officially recognised tools a citizen has at their disposal.

If we do not use this vote to actively tell both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party that they are always just one fuck-up away from sinking into further irrelevance, a sentiment which is already clearly visible in the hesitation displayed by survey respondents, then there will be nobody to blame for our continued subservience to these parties except for ourselves.

We are no longer in a position where we can afford to hedge our bets on one party or the other in the hopes that we will be granted favours in return for our support. It is time to stop weighing out our decisions in terms of how they might improve our status in the short term and start thinking of the long term.

It is time for this country to grow up and, for once, show an inkling of interest in the future as a collective dream we all have a claim to rather than a nightmare which we all dread.


  • Robert Pace Bonello says:

    The one argument that makes sense. Needs courage to abandon either one of the preferred majors.
    Perhaps this will be a defining moment.

    • Julian Delia says:

      Indeed, there is no other viable political option that makes sense and respects the basic sovereignty of fundamental human rights. It will also serve a more important function, which is reminding both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party that they are not the be all and end all of the universe.

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