A little less conversation… (Election Matters)

Posted on October 11, 2007 by

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Over the last week or so we have seen the political parties whinge and whine about the control that their counterparts seem to have over the media. Each of the parties dreams of having a hidden absolute control over all things mediatic in such a way as to be able to churn out soporiphic plaudits and taps on the back for itself while engaging in systematic  character assassinations vis-a-vis anyone else. The battle lines in the early phases of the electoral chess game are drawn along the boundaries of mediatic power.

I cannot say that the population is deeply engrossed in this matter and I don’t think it should be either. The MLPN machinery has been honed over the “modern” elections post-1990 when the substance of the electoral message became increasingly dwarfed by the paper in which it was wrapped and the constant barrage of negative propaganda aimed at the opposite party. AD is toying with entering the fray using this kind of politics that will not get them very far and risks cloning them into another MLPN-style party (minus the seats). “If you can’t beat them, join them” doesn’t always turn out to be the most handy of aphorisms though one can sympathise with the sense of desperation at AD headquarters following more than a quarter of a century of activity without tangible electoral results (policy results is another matter alltogether).

Lifting the confusing veil of insults and trumpet blowing could be a good exercise for contributors and readers of TMC alike. I would like to suggest a few areas of policy that could serve as litmus tests for the electorate to evaluate and as subjects of future discussion. Essentially the exercise will require identifying the subjects on which the electorate would like clear answers and then hopefully finding out what each party has to say on that.

An example would be [Transport].  There’s enough here for Joe Saliba to write an Encyclopaedia and not simply a 360 page document. Where to start? Roadworks – what will the next government’s policy be? Will the people be inconvenienced by sporadic planning and badly executed tenders? Will the magic baton of EU subsidised works continue to be waved? Parking. The PN government has encouragingly introduced the concept of P&R into our planning vocabulary. Will more similar projects be encouraged? What about residents vs visitors in various localities? Will collaboration/devolution with Local Councils be the solution?

Then there are the means of transport themselves. The Bus system, what with all the fanfare of the new buses remains underused and inefficient. Incredibly a small island of some 20 by 15 km is still unable to come up with a proper bus system that encourages people to rid of their cars. Will the taxis be allowed to continue to live in their own little kingdom? Will we continue to ignore the potential of a well-connected boat system of transport (at least in the Greater Harbour area – from St. Julian’s to Rinella)? Which party openly admits that the current failures of the overall transport system are at the root of a burgeoning, unsustainable private vehicle population?

Then there is the getting in and out of the country. How long before Ryanair begins to use these “popular” second-hand routes it has been given as leverage (blackmail) to obtain routes to destinations currently monopolised by Air Malta? Who is planning for the day when Ryanair decides to do a “Malpensa” and threaten total withdrawal unless it is afforded better routes (see Alitalia and Malpensa)?

And what about links to Gozo? How long will the Gozo Ferry monopoly continue to exist? What plans for liberalisation? Will it work? I’d love to read about a project to link Gozo’s towns with an electric tram for example. I’d love to find an electoral manifesto that has something more than “We believe in Gozo”…

And it’s not just Transport, it’s Energy, it’s Planning & Urban Development, it’s Culture and Entertainment, it’s Justice & Home Affairs.

A little less conversation… a little more action… pretty please….

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