On the 6 June 2009, the electorate in Malta and Gozo will join another 500 million citizens across Europe to select those persons whom they consider to possess the right attributes that will ensure a better quality of life and opportunities from EU membership.
Through this democratic process we all have the duty and the right to weigh up and measure performance against promises. As a tourism journalist, I consider these elections to be crucial for the enhancement and continued competitiveness of the European Tourism Industry, particularly so for Malta and Gozo which depend on this socio-economic activity for 25 per cent of the National GDP. The one thing that concerns me is the attitude we have taken to voting in these islands. I suppose this seems to be endemic in many other countries in Europe when one looks at the average turnout over the last years. This attitude confuses local issues, which many a time can be easily solved through consumer organisations and customer care units, with national and international issues. The phrase I hear plenty of on radio, television and in the papers, is “I feel hurt” – and this always perplexes me since it is usually a very sweeping statement without much basis for argument or substance because it revolves around the issue that people are not getting the attention they wants. But we need to look into wider reasons when voting – the environment, economy and social issues – all themes we have heard about over the last five years in relation to the European Un ion, all issues that have benefitted from funding assistance as well as from directives which we have transposed into our own legislation. I look on the European Un ion as the opportunity to do the things we always wanted to do but lacked the financial resources and the discipline to implement. We need direction, we need people who are drivers and champions to introduce new processes and policies that conflict with our traditional and more “laid back” way of doing things.
What we don’t need are opportunists who look on the European Union elections as a cash cow and a means of making a quick buck by earning a sizeable pay packet. If I had to consider what qualities I will be looking for in those persons I would vote for on the 6 June they will have to be:
Committed: This means those candidates who are elected will have to be convinced that, through EU membership the Maltese Islands can make a contribution in the legislative decisions that govern our lifestyle and improve our environment. The MEPs will be there to take decisive action and not dither in their votes on crucial issues. We need people who are action-oriented and not passengers.
Apolitical: The MEPs in Brussels need to put Malta first and foremost, above the allegiance to their political party. They need to work with all members in the EP, irrespective of the politics. Most of all, the five (and later six) MEPs from Malta need to support each other and their government to ensure unity and clear vision.
Basic issues: The MEPs need to believe they can make a difference to three basic issues – Economy, Environment and Social Policy. A healthy society is the basic requirement for a contented and strong community that will take up all the opportunities to improve and enhance its quality of life and well being.
The decision to find those candidates who possess the qualities I have listed above means that our tourism industry will benefit from more innovation and creativity that form the second stage in Maslow’s Heirarchy of needs, since a contented society looks for more scope to satisfaction beyond simple job security and lifestyle.