Representing diversity in a complex and dynamic world: the moderate and progressive vision of European democracy.
Posted by fcb on July 19, 2008
Copernicus, fractal art, Sven Geier, 2007 (image inverted by LiL team) [*]
The Prime Minister’s decision to set up a select committee of the House of Representatives, representing both parties equally, to discuss issues related to the strengthening of democracy is one of the first tangible results of Joseph Muscat’s leadership.
The committee’s agenda is impressive and almost daunting:
* Public broadcasting
* Electoral Law
* Public financing of political parties and party funding transparency
* Adequate resources for Parliament
* A reform of the Permanent Commission against Corruption
* Strengthening of the Office of the Ombudsman
* Regulation of parliamentary appointments
* Regulation of ministers’, parliamentary secretaries’, and MPs’ conflict of interest
We feel that Lawrence Gonzi and Joseph Muscat have both understood the great opportunity offered by the present exceptionally favourable political circumstances to take Malta a step closer to the standards of governance expected of a European country today. One hopes that all of the MPs chosen to sit on this historic committee (Tonio Borg, Anglu Farrugia, Austin Gatt, Charles Mangion, Karmenu Vella and Francis Zammit Dimech) will live up to the considerable responsibility they have been entrusted with by their respective leaders.
Joseph’s insistence that civil society should be given the opportunity to have its say before any decision are taken, including the trade unions, the constituted bodies, Alternattiva Demokratika (the only organisation he specifically named) and the NGOs, should not be underestimated. Parliament is the highest expression of our democracy but does not, cannot, comprehend and express the complexity, diversity and dynamism of the galaxy of interests, aspirations and preoccupations that characterise Maltese society close to the end of the first decade of the 21st century.
The latter is an issue that needs to be seriously engaged by the political parties. Malta’s consistently high electoral participation rates hide the fact that in between elections an increasing number of Maltese and Gozitans feel alienated from ‘the political class’. Voting Labour or Nationalist at elections today does not mean that one identifies completely with the culture of the party one has voted for. Indeed, one wonders why so many thinking citizens continue to vote for so many candidates whose ignorance is surpassed only by their arrogance. And we are not thinking of the marginal cranks, oddballs and black sheep that occasionally jump onto the stage. We are thinking of the average candidate’s ability to read and appreciate the signs of the times and to ‘represent’ these in the House of Representatives.
The problems of political representation of diversity in a complex and changing society is one of the main issues that Labour in labour intends to pursue. It is central to any discussion of democracy in the contemporary world and, more emphatically, of the vision of democracy of European moderates and progressives.
[*] See Caaretaker’s note below.