In 1811 French philosopher Joseph de Maistre had famously stated that “every country has the government it deserves.” In our case this will be decided this Saturday when the electorate will be called to choose a new government for the next five years.

The legislature coming to an end stands out as being the most tumultuous in decades.

It started off with the brutal assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and reached its climax two years later with a full-blown political crisis which forced Joseph Muscat to resign. His successor, Robert Abela was elected on the pledge of continuity. In real terms, the last two years were dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the FATF’s decision to put Malta on the grey list. These two issues were at the root of all major decisions and controversies since then.

Last year an EY survey concluded that 60% of Maltese youths see no future here. Anybody who has been brought up in a culture of clientelism, whereby the road to success is based on political links, the power of incumbency, and double standards, might not be taken completely by surprise.

The bottom line is that in Malta elections are rarely won on the strength of the common good or long-term goals. On the other hand, a significant chunk give their first preference exclusively on the strength of their personal gain regardless of what repercussions could be in store for others. The €70 million government cheques bonanza epitomises all this. Announced at the start of February, when the election could have potentially been up to six months away, the cash injection ‘scheme’ was delayed by weeks so that it was rolled out by the caretaker government a fortnight before polling day. Cleary, the timing was strategically chosen in an attempt to garner as much electoral support. No party would have resorted to such ploy were it not convinced it would reap dividends.

Meanwhile, claims of large number of white goods being delivered in certain constituencies are not to be dismissed. There was no break either when it came to development permits issued by the planning or rather permits authority as some have called it.

The only exception seems to have been pending collective agreements whereby talks were abruptly halted, on the grounds that a caretaker government cannot take certain commitments. Surreal is not it, when you think what is going on! Holier than the pope when it comes to workers!

Saturday’s election presents an opportunity to convey a strong message in favour of justice, meritocracy and good governance. This opportunity is there to be taken. Anybody abstaining will only be fooling himself. Whatever the turnout, the result will be binding. Hence, there is no point in staying at home and when the verdict is out, it has to be respected.  Ultimately, every nation gets the government it deserves.