TMIS Editorial: The country needs a strong opposition

For decades, Independence Day has been associated with the Nationalist Party.

When, in 1964, then Prime Minister George Borg Olivier waved the documents to cheering crowds in Floriana, a new chapter for Malta had begun.

A decade later, it was under the Labor Party that Malta became a republic, sparking a debate over which of the two was more important – to become independent or to become a republic? There was more fuel thrown into the fire with the departure of British troops in 1979, which became known as Freedom Day.

The PN has always insisted that what happened in 1974 and 1979 could only take place as a consequence of the first big step taken in 1964. But Labor did not listen and even withdrew for a while. some time on independence day from the list of national holidays.

This prompted nationalists to organize activities in the week leading up to September 21 on the attics of Floriana. These political events gained momentum in the years when the Labor Party governed the country without obtaining a majority of votes. Episodes of violence in the first two-thirds of the 1980s were not uncommon.

With the coming to power of the PN in 1987, Independence Day was reinstated as a national holiday and the PN continued to use the third week of September to show its strength; the events culminated in a much-anticipated mass meeting the day before.

Everything changed from 2013. After the electoral defeat of that year, with the PN in disarray, even the Independence Day activities lost their rhythm and flavor. Attendance began to dwindle and despite efforts to revitalize them, such as moving them to another location, pre-Independence Day PN activities have not returned to their glory days.

The Covid-19 pandemic canceled events for two years, but now that it is again possible to organize mass activities, the PN has opted for a watered down program this year. There will be two “political meetings” with the Leader of the Opposition, which will be held today and tomorrow. But there will be no mass meeting this time.

What PN supporters are invited to do on the eve of Independence Day is to “gather around” the monument which celebrates the historic day, where Bernard Grech will be addressed to them. The monument is located in a public square much smaller than the neighboring granaries, so the PN apparently does not expect too many people to respond to its invitation.

This is the unfortunate situation the PN finds itself in these days. It’s mostly his fault, as years of internal conflict have shattered the party and a divided organization is not seen in its best light. The PN also failed to renew itself because the progressive wave swept it away.

And yet, as much as a strong opposition was needed – and there was a strong opposition – in the 1980s, when Malta was under a dangerous and violent socialist regime, today a strong opposition is needed to counter a government which must be mastered. Fortunately, there is no physical violence these days, but the government hurts people of good will in many other ways.

There was a time when Labor described the Nationalists, then in government, as arrogant. But Labor has taken haughtiness to new heights over the past 10 years, bolstered by public support for it in elections, which has grown despite all the scandals that have rocked the country since 2013.

The majority of Labor rose because many have personally benefited and choose to ignore the bigger picture because of their own selfishness. They turn a blind eye when disgraced people walk away with impunity or are even given new dates. For them, bribery is OK as long as they have obtained the required permit.

The Labor majority also increased because the Nationalist Party did not present itself as an alternative. Going back to the years when Independence Day was not on the calendar of national holidays, the PN had then been strong enough to withstand the onslaught, rally public support and win the 1987 election despite everything. what was thrown at him. For long months, the PN regularly filled the Granaries and filled them a little more during Independence week.

It’s a different story today. The PN feels so weak that it cannot bring itself to call a mass meeting, fearing to be ridiculed for lack of presence. His voice is ineffective in the grand scheme of things. And the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away.

Just when the country needs an energetic, tough and inspiring opposition to stand up to a loose government.

Toya J. Bell