The referendum held in Malta on the 8th March 2003 to determine whether Malta should take up EU membership on the basis of the terms and conditions negotiated by the Government provided a clear result. A massive 91% of the registered electorate turned out to vote and 54% of the electorate voted in favour of EU membership. The Labour Party has typically chosen to interpret the results of the referendum to suit itself. Its interpretation reflects the manner in which it bends the truth to suit itself. The leaders of the Malta Labour Party, Dr. Sant slyly argues that since he gave his followers three alternative courses of action prior to the referendum, i.e. vote no, invalidate the vote or do not vote, then all the abstentions and the invalid votes reflect the will of his followers in fulfilling his instructions. What absolute rubbish! The reality is that those individuals who invalidated the vote or did not turn up to vote did not carry their responsibilities as Maltese citizens. They demonstrated their inability to deal with an issue of national concern in a mature and reasonable manner by expressing their opinion for or against the issue. The Labour Party has been able to trample on the democratic rights of the people so often in the past and seems intent to do this yet again by ignoring the results of the referendum. It still does not get the picture - democracy is about exercising the will of the people, even when this is not convenient to the Party.
The Labour Party has appealed to the losers in this country, and it seems that there is no shortage of these around. They have appealed to those spongers that cannot survive in a competitive market, they have appealed to all those who rely on a bloated and ineffective public sector for their personal future, they have appealed to those who believe that they cannot compete with any Europeans. It is sad that so many Maltese seem to have so little faith in themselves. We are a people that may not be particularly strong in discipline or sense of civic duty, but we certainly have proved our selves as competent and hard workers. All we need is the opportunities. Looking inwards into the microscopic market we call Malta is hardly going to provide much of a future.
The MLP have made empty promises of a special arrangement with the EU that would give Malta all the benefits of membership without the responsibilities of full membership. There is no shred of any evidence that the EU is interested in developing such a unique and one sided arrangement. Unbelievably, the Labour supporters have swallowed this ruse hook line and sinker. Is it so very difficult for adults to question what their political leaders dish out to them. The Labour Party has a tradition of treating its followers like mushrooms. It revels in the fact that its followers have a blind devotion to their Party and are not willing or capable of thinking for themselves. They are only too happy to soak up any nonsense thrown at them by their leaders. The more absurd and unrealistic the allegation, the easier it seems to be for them to accept.
Yet, of the 123,628 individuals who voted "No" to EU membership, there must be individuals who can question the validity of the MLP's hollow promises! Let us for the sake of argument assume that of the whole Maltese electorate, there is a fanatical fifty per cent that will vote Labour or Nationalist regardless of the issue. Let us further assume that this mass of blind loyalists is evenly spread in both camps. That leaves fifty per cent of the electorate that should be voting on the basis of some form of logic or rationale. In today's global economy, what logic can be used to justify the inward looking policies of isolationism and protectionism?
I must admit my own personal bias towards EU membership. I believe in the underlying strategic goals and principles of the EU and in my opinion, EU membership should not be reduced a mere quantification of the amount of funds we can or cannot get. Lets face it, our politicians have demonstrated a common unwillingness to deal with tough problems of our country. We are living beyond our means and we know it. What are we going to do about it? We are caught in a political environment where each Government is intent on embarking on projects that can be closed in the course of their legislature. Their focus is on political survival - don't rock the boat, postpone major problems and give short term results. We the electorate have encouraged them and supported them to get away with it for so long because it suited us. EU membership is about the introduction of a set of values and standards that are geared towards long term sustainable prosperity. It is focused on providing opportunities to those citizens that want to invest in developing their competencies and capabilities. It provides a future for those who believe in themselves and have the determination to invest in themselves. It provides the frameworks and structures to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to prosper. But of course the individual must help himself or herself. The future is not about what one party or politician can give you out of the public coffers. It is about what you can do improve your prospects in a large and diverse EU where mobility and open borders ensure opportunities for all that want and are prepared to work to succeed.
Regrettably, the Malta Labour Party does not have the vision to see Malta's prosperity within the EU, and the forthcoming election is no longer about voting for one party or another. It is about voting for a future as an integral part of Europe with the recognised standards and opting for an uncertain future as a quasi-European state.