One of the things that I’ve learnt over the past few years is how little we should actually rely on our political leaders. When Joseph Muscat first appeared on the scene many thought he’d do great things; when Adrian Delia promised a new way, I too hoped he would bring about some much-needed change. How badly mistaken we were.
And, yet, since the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the biggest change to Malta’s political climate hasn’t come from a political party or a political leader, but from a group of people who were dedicated enough to withstand personal attacks, lawsuits, and bad weather to prove their point through protest.
A galvanised civil society has completely reshaped the way we do politics in this country.
It has seen one of the most popular prime ministers in our history resign in disgrace; it has seen the people rise against injustice; it has made a government with a vast majority stop in its tracks and listen against its will, and all this when the opposition had become practically redundant. In other words, the past few years have taken a lot of power away from the government and the opposition and put it back where it has always belonged: the people.
As the Nationalist Party rallies around Bernard Grech, who, by all means, seems to be a decent candidate, there is one thing I genuinely hope for. While a good leader is, inevitably, an important rallying point, and having someone who is wise, clean and charismatic is crucial, we all need to start taking more responsibility for what happens in our country. We need to keep in mind that we should stand for our beliefs whether there are good leaders or not. We need to fight for justice whether those in power think it is worthwhile or not. And we need to remind our political representatives where their status comes from and why.
The alternative is very bleak, particularly as so much is swept under rugs in this country.
It has been almost three years since Daphne was murdered, six months since Miriam Pace was killed in her own home, and many months since the ex-Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff was popularly linked to the assassination of a journalist. And things, while they seemingly go on, are crumbling around us.
Ultimately, good leaders should be welcomed with open arms – goodness knows we need many of them – but we shouldn’t wait around for them to get here. On top of our vote, our voice and our convictions can be enough to change things. We should use every opportunity we have to remind those in power that they are answerable to us (and not for pjaċiri), and that no one must be forgotten, regardless of who has the reins of the country.