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Editorial • January 11 2004

Who should be the President of the Republic?

The Presidential countdown is on. In three months time, Malta will have a new President, elected by a simple majority in Parliament. Political analysts have thrown names into the presidential ring.
Eddie Fenech Adami’s name together with that of Anton Tabone the Speaker of the House of Representatives and of former Minister Michael Refalo have been the punters choice.
The common denominator with all three being years of political service to the country and their party. This is in keeping with the tradition used for each choice made in the last twenty years barring, that of the first incumbent Sir Anthony Mamo.
While believing that there should be no legal impediment prohibiting a politician from being eligible to the highest office of the land, as is the case with members of the judiciary, we believe that choosing yet another party politician is not a wise move.
Every politician carries political baggage, which effects perceptions and creates hurdles in the way of allowing the Presidency to be perceived as the very symbol of national unity.
The symbol of national unity is at the very heart of this prestigious office. Indeed former presidents have risen to the occasion and acted ‘super partes.’ This has none the less never changed the gut feeling among the electorate that the incumbent really still belongs, at least in spirit, to his former party.
Many a Nationalist die-hard trembled in former years at the very suggestion that Dom Mintoff could have been President. The very mention of the possibility left them shivering.
Do we really expect Labour sympathisers to feel any differently if Dr Fenech Adami were the next presidential choice?
There can be little doubt that the present Prime Minister has the credentials to fit the post. Will the whole country, however, rally behind him and perceive him to be the grand reconciliatory, the healer, the father of the entire nation.
We fear that enthusiasm for Fenech Adami would electrify half the population, leaving the other half dejected in the belief that the very same person who kept their party in Opposition for so long should now present himself as the symbol of national unity.
Political wisdom dictates a different path.
It is time to think differently and to break the mould of Maltese petty-minded politics. It is time to do politics differently, concretely and not verbally. What better way than to start by making a non party-political choice.
It is time to change the parliamentary mindset of electing ‘one of us.’ It is time to choose a person who while smart and wise, carries little party political baggage. The search must be on for a person who is acceptable to all, irrespective of party political leanings.
We disagree with the Mintoffian theory that the only independent thinking persons in the land lie at rest in the Adolorrata cemetery.
The next President of Malta should be an independent thinking person, free from past party political service with a sense of fair play and integrity. It may sound like a tall order, yet we are certain that it is not impossible to identify the right person.
‘A person who can walk with kings yet feel at one with the common man.’ Will the Prime Minister rise to the occasion?

Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta