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Nothing is more worth reporting than this right now. I’ll be publishing more analytical work soon: meanwhile, make sure you note down Thursday’s protest on your calendar.

This protest symbolises more than the country’s thirst for democratic freedoms. It goes beyond expressing how we’ve had enough of dirty politics. It goes even beyond the most basic calls for justice and accountability in the face of grand larceny.

For the hundreds of individuals who have contributed their time to civil society in Malta, it is the culmination of years of unpaid work, personal sacrifices, and round-the-clock vigilance against the mafia state. This is exactly the kind of groundswell moment that can make or break a country’s history. It is a fork in the road that, in terms of its significance, can only be compared to the moment we heard of that fateful car bomb in Bidnija on 16 October, 2017.

When disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat finally resigned in January 2020, many of us made the mistake of giving his successor, Robert Abela, the benefit of the doubt. Four years later, we are once again in a perilous situation at the hands of the same band of thieves which Muscat once led. The only difference is that Abela has become an even more dangerous version of Muscat – an unstable, paranoid dictator who refuses to engage with reality and lives in a parallel universe composed of shadowy establishments and palace intrigue.

After the COVID pandemic completely drained all the momentum from the massive protests we had organised in late 2019, we were forced to hope Abela would lead the country forward, only to be made to watch in horror as he catapulted us backwards. We watched him fail to rise to the occasion, crisis after crisis.

We watched high-ranking members of his government commit crimes with impunity, appointing their under-qualified canvassers to sensitive positions within the civil service, spending millions of euros on irregular contracts, literally destroying the fabric of our towns with their incompetence. We watched Abela defend them, refuse to sack them, promote them, even. We saw them unleash the worst of the worst they have among their ranks to launch slanderous attacks on our journalists, our activists, our people.

Whatever they may tell you, this is not just the background music of an ongoing election campaign. This is a war for what remains of the democratic liberty we have at our disposal. This is a crisis that threatens the state, the bureaucratic machine that runs your electricity grid, resurfaces (or doesn’t) your roads, enforces (or fails to) your laws, collects and spends your taxes, pays the thousands of nurses, teachers, clerks, doctors, and other skilled professionals that make up the bulk of its payroll.

This is a moment which will define the years to come. Not just in the local political scene, but in everything that we do as a nation. The world is watching closely to see what fate holds in store for this god-awful island in the Mediterranean that can’t seem to get its house in order to save its life. If you think that’s unfair, well, too bad. It’s how the international community sees us, and from their perspective, it’s hard to convince them otherwise.

Here we are in the middle of a climate crisis and several major armed conflicts which threaten established international relations, witnessing our government commit legislative suicide by trying to choke the judiciary with its bare hands in broad daylight. They are willing and able to take all of us down with them if it means skimming a few years off the inevitable personal consequences of their own actions.

Dear Malta, it is time for you to stand up and fight again.

The future demands it.

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