Writing in the Malta Independent Today, Daphne Caruana Galizia takes another (well deserved) dig at Alex Sciberras Trigona and rightly points out the blatant incongruence of AST’s “democratic” arguments. It’s not just that AST has the barefaced cheek of calling the present situation undemocratic but also that he has got the basic constitutional principles wrong – as J’accuse has explained time and again, this government is legitimate so long as it does not lose a confidence vote in parliament. Daphne mentions the efforts of the Labour party to “rewrite history” and a quick look at the J’accuse archives points to how this effort at propagandist revisionism was predictable some time back (see The J’accuse 2011 Tag Cloud under “History Manipulation”).
The trouble (or one of the troubles) with Labour is that in their effort to counter the PN “30-years Back” propaganda they are coming up with the most brazenly offensive bits of propaganda with regard to the present government in an effort to picture its tenure as some dictatorial, non-law abiding clique in the style of an Army Coup in some tin pot democracy. Labour’s propaganda technique is simple: repeat a lie so many times that it begins to sound like the truth. We are not talking of legal nitpicking on some moot point that could go both ways but about a simple constitutional principle that yells in your face. A government is a government so long as it does not lose its support in parliament. The only way to gauge that support is by votes in parliament – not by declarations in MaltaToday or interpretations in MaltaStar or status updates on facebook. Simple.
Or it should be simple. Right beneath Daphne’s article (on the Indy Online) lies an article by Labour’s spokesman for Gozo Anton Refalo. The man’s reputation among legal circles is of an efficient lawyer – efficient does not translate to good and believe you me in this case good is very far from efficient. You see the laws of the land also include procedural elements and ethical components with regard to the functioning of a lawyer in assisting his clients. By abiding by these laws and procedures, lawyers form part of a wider system that does its best to mete out justice for all: blindly, impartially and equally. The rules of representation and chinese walls between lawyer and client in particular are very important for this functioning. I harbour strong doubts whether Anton Refalo, Gozo’s aspiring Minister even has a clue about how these should really work.
He gave us an example of his grasp of constitutional politics in today’s article. The bottom line is simple… the laws are just there for your aesthetic convenience. Follow the “social contract” (which one Anton? Should we have an Alfred Sant-like stunt every election with the Dear Leader signing some “social contract” for the fun of the people complete with Notary in attendance?) and forget the law.
The GonziPN can twist and spin the story beyond reasonable boundaries but the bottom line remains the same: That is, that the PN has lost the working majority in the House. Even if the Constitution still gives the PN the legal rights to remain in power, morally and politically it might not. There is no other way but to put an end to this situation by giving the people the right to express their view.
By refusing to take this step, the Prime Minister is putting himself in a situation where his legitimacy is being eroded. The Prime Minister must realise that ultimately any democratically-elected sovereign derives his legitimacy more from an unwritten social contract than from the written laws.
Well Anton. A democratically elected sovereign will go to the polls once it is clear that he has lost the working majority of the house. He does so when a vote of confidence is called in the house (as has been done over the past year) and when that vote of confidence is lost (as has not happened yet). In the meantime all the talk about legitimacy and undemocratic regimes is just a load of hot air, talk and bravado. It may work elsewhere Anton, but so long as the law is to be abided and so long as we have a modicum of decency in the application of that law then you’ll have to wait for the inevitable vote of confidence that will crop up in the last semester of this year.
The law Anton, we are all servants of the law so that we may be free.