Elections should be a natural democratic process in a free society where citizens, affiliatively organized in political parties, compete with alternative programs of government to attract the approval of the majority of their fellow citizens.
In a highly polarized, practically bi-partisan, society as ours, election day has become D-Day. Nerves are high, parties are at each other’s neck, and the grassroots are mobilized. Each hour counts, every vote is chased. Every Euro of the big thousands spent is considered worth it. The message is to get across so that the 50%+1 target is reached so that the government is secured in the hands of the party!
In a war, the first casualty is the truth! This could apply to an election campaign. You get a feeling of surrealism when parties accuse the each other of bringing the country to almost insolvency and then without battering an eye propose a complete list of project, programs, benefits, and what not. Good governance has nothing to do with appeasement and handouts, but requires the responsible use of resources, a just redistribution of the generated wealth, and a fair and equitable treatment of each citizen and person forming part of society.
The Bishops in their pastoral letter have appealed to all citizens “so that the electoral campaign may proceed in a spirit of respect towards the truth and towards one another”. They have also emphasized four aspects that need to be given due importance by parties in their programs: the family; the younger generation; the poor and those who are suffering; and the environment. The parties have not taken much heed of the Bishop’s letter, so much so that nobody took up the issues of drugs among the youth, or have commented on the defense of the family.
Nonetheless, the Auxiliary Bishop, Mgr Scicluna, in an interview has advised that no one should shy away from doing his duty of freely expressing his democratic choice. We, the citizens, should, therefore, have a discerning heart when not everything is being told as is.
I suggest that as believers we should not vote simply on party lines but by answering in conscience a number of questions:
- What are the values being proposed in the programs?
- Who has the most respect for the truth and authentic freedom?
- What are the means and the methods by which the message is being conveyed?
- Who is showing the greatest competence and statesmanship?
- Which party is defending the dignity of man the most?
- Who respects most the national identity and is capable of leading an evolving society in a wise manner?
Ulimately, come the 10th of March, all should respect the free choice of the people and get on with life. The people gets the government it deserves, as the saying goes.