MaltaToday | 03 Feb 2008 | The electorate
OPINION | Sunday, 03 February 2008

The electorate


We have been in election mode for some months now – too long.
It looks that the Prime Minister will be announcing the fatal date within days.  Then, expectation will turn into action and the party machines that have been revving and tuning over the past months will accelerate into fast speed.
Candidates will shift their attention, eying apprehensively their party colleagues, rather than the candidates listed on the opposite tickets. At the district level it will be a hunt for votes. I hope that the debate at the national level will be a profound focus on issues.
The electorate needs to be respected. The electorate needs to show that it will not be treated as a gullible pack, but that it has the analytical power to assess and measure the words that will come out from the mouth of politicians over the next weeks.
The electorate will be hit by a lot of populist statements. Proposals that are doable and proposals that are so phantasmagorical that they are outright undoable. Promises that can be fulfilled and promises that will never be fulfilled.  There will be promises that are made because they sound good, but which in the interest of the country should not be fulfilled.
The electorate should remove its emotional cap and put on its thinking cap.  It should wade through all this verbiage, assess every utterance and decide who is nearest to achieve what the electorate would like to see this country achieve. 
The emphasis is on COUNTRY.
I have been through many election campaigns and I have experienced the siege that every politician is subjected to by some of the electorate who see the election period as a market to trade votes (or promises of votes) for favours (or promises of favours). In some instance voters see this period as the time when they can have the highest level of leverage in their quest for justice denied in the past.
It is a fact though that a high percentage of the electorate is not in this category.  However they may still be tempted to base their decision on some incident or some situation which is very transient in nature but which may be having an affect on them. It is a pity that some will yield to this temptation and make their decisions on momentary issues rather than the long term interest.
Voting in any election, but especially in a general election, is a decision that affects our lives on the long term. The assessments leading to such a decision should be based on long term issues.
The electorate will also be faced with a gallery of faces vying for its favour. It is vital to go beyond the faces and mine into the track record. Judgement should be passed on integrity, competence, and results. The electorate must remember that his vote will put people in the executive of this country. These people will have to plan the future and will set the structures on which the lives of this generation and of future generations will be built.
How do these politicians score on respect for democratic values and processes, for the right of each and every citizen to think for himself and to act in full freedom? How do they score on objective analysis and action that benefit the community rather than a group? How do they score on the ability of getting things done? How do they score on vision of where they would want to see this country going?
This is an important decision. For those who want to act in a responsible way, it is not an easy decision. But it is a decision that needs to be made and I pray that it is made well. This is a decision on which the future of our country and our families will depend.

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