Saturday, January 7

Franco Debono and the Free Vote

What, with the impending Eurozone collapse and the Yellowstone caldera cracking the planet in half, don’t we have enough to fret about this year? Enter Franco Debono.

The current administration has been a train crash from the get-go, but Debono’s antics have stood out. He seems intent on going down in the history books one way or another, and from the looks of it bringing down the government is fair game. Though the anarchist in me is grinning, I’ve kind of grown tired of this whole scorpion-and-the-frog scenario by now. Just because one has the nuclear codes doesn’t mean he has to constantly threaten to press the button. I can understand those who criticise him and his actions - he has indeed been behaving like a honey badger on acid.

My main peeve though is with the Nationalist MPs who are also lambasting the free vote concept per se. They would have us believe that all those who don’t toe the party line are evil. Nonsense. The free vote itself can be very beneficial for a country. If it brings instability it's either because the government:

1) can't agree on issues - in which case it’s pathetic and has it coming, or

2) doesn't have a big enough parliamentary seat advantage - and for that nobody but the party in power is to blame for not winning enough people over at the last elections.

Having said that, I’m afraid the free vote has no place in Malta at the moment.

For years I’ve wanted a third party with a seat in parliament; someone who could steal a bit of the Big Two’s thunder. We now have someone within a big party acting as if he were a third party. That makes it sound like a parasite, and parasitic it is because nobody voted for this third party.

Surely if Debono got elected it means people voted for him, didn’t they? Maltese people don’t vote for people, they vote for a colour. They get the ballot sheet, scroll down to the colour they want, and vote for the doctor who cured them when they had gonorrhoea. Those who ticked Debono’s box didn’t do so for his ideologies. They voted because they liked PN’s electoral program. Scratch that, they voted for PN and that’s it, because that’s what they’re programmed to do. Different kind of program, you see.

Just look at the USA. While their system is different, they only have two big parties, like Malta. But they aren’t tribal about it. Legislators are free to vote as they wish. I don't even want to think of what their congress would be like without outspoken people such as Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul. Here’s the difference: the voters want them in congress regardless of which party they belong to.

I’m all for the free vote when we learn to vote for the individuals we want.

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