19 MARCH 2003

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Toon this week: Ladder to success

War on our doorstep

War is looming in Iraq and as the whole world preoccupies itself with the implications, in Malta we remain oblivious to the impending military action.
As George Bush and Tony Blair make impassioned pleas for war, we Maltese are subjected to unbearable televised press conferences from the leaders of our political parties.
In a highly charged environment, Malta is revving up to an electrifying electoral campaign dominated by spark and colour on one side and more of the same on the other.
It is no understatement to state that this week the Nationalist party has failed to galvanise steel to its image.
The Malta Labour Party, on the other hand, is full of so called Franciscan vigour and bright ideas! The party led by Alfred Sant is also trying hard to look younger and more dynamic.
The Labour party was certainly the first off the block and has captured attention – how much substance is behind the sparkle remains debatable, but the PN has a bit of catching up to do.
If Alfred Sant wants to win votes, he will have to do better than sparkle and shine. The Labour Party will have to find a way of convincing the electorate that it can deliver where the PN has failed. This will be no easy job given the MLP’s track record and its unwillingness to change its tack on the EU.
This newspaper has no ill feelings about the natural democratic transition of power from one political party to another. However, it does have very serious reservations about the misgivings and opposition to EU accession.
The latest referendum results confirmed everyone’s worst fears: that although the electorate voted in favour of accession, the outcome could not be interpreted and translated into a binding result.
More so with the unbelievable interpretation presented by Dr Alfred Sant who declared victory when he should have heralded defeat.
The suggestions made in the past that the referendum and election should have been held on the same day seem to be more palatable, albeit too late in the day.
The next few weeks are crucial weeks for the campaign for Europe. It is a sad and sorry situation where the affirmation of whether we should become members of the European Union, or not, depends on a vote for the PN or for AD.
This debasement of politics and democracy is a result of the polarisation that has overtaken our social fabric making every issue a debatable, controversial and confrontational one.
There is an air of ‘sureness’ in the PN camp, which is shocking and scary.
Scenes from 1996 return to haunt, with the PN camp talking of a sweeping victory.
The tone is indicative of the over-confidence and cockiness in some segments of the PN camp.
Of one thing we are sure.
Not that Labour will not be elected, but rather that denying Malta entry into the European Union will lead to a slowdown in our development, whether it be in business, investment, opportunities, education, or in the widening of our scope in the cultural, political and social sense.
It will undoubtedly send the wrong message to the European Union, leaving Malta in a rather awkward and embarrassing situation.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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