Malta is a country where politics is very much ingrained in the fabric of our identity. Political affiliations are normally associated with one of the two main big parties in Malta, either Labour or the Nationalists.
A significant number of people would subscribe to the beliefs of one particular party and will find it difficult to steer away from its ideology. Such people would also be sceptical towards the idea of a third party gaining power since they believe that the equation should just include the Nationalist and Labour parties.
The fact that we have grown accustomed to two main political parties over a large number of years does not help to reduce the element of partisan politics. Many people in Malta follow their political parties and respective leaders blindly without question. They automatically adopt the mantra communicated by their preferred political party, irrespective of whether it is good for the country or themselves individually. This indeed is a very dangerous approach as it leaves no space for critical thinking, allowing politicians to get away with actions which may not be in the common interest.
This also becomes a big issue once a political leader gains significant levels of support from partisan followers. This brings about a certain degree of political immunity, where one party is placed on a superior pedestal. So what is the reason that there is such political partisanship in Malta?
In Malta, we are brought up with the mentality of us versus them. When it comes to politics, for a lot of people, it is either being of Nationalist or Labourite ideology. There is no middle ground and you would need to identify which party you would subscribe to from a relatively early stage in life.
Those who study Maltese political history will appreciate that there is a certain degree of sensitivity due to strong division, violence and also, on certain occasions, murders. Such episodes have fuelled a certain political divide where some people feel stronger about their party.
For some families, politics is not a matter of opinion or trends. It is something related to identity and a sense of belonging. The pride of the family would sometimes revolve around the loyalty to the party. Shifting allegiance to the opposing party would be deemed close to a sacrilege!
What do you think about political partisanship in Malta? Is it just a Malta phenomenon? Let us know in the comments section below.