There must have been circumstances where we had to choose between drinking Coca-Cola or Pepsi Cola. The difference between the two could be in the taste even though both seem to have the same flavor and are mostly made from the same ingredients.
Given the choice between the two, we can decide to consume one over the other based on how sweet or mild it is. This choice between two drinks promoted by a global brand promotional campaign can perhaps serve as an analogy to the choice we face when it comes to political parties.
This analogy starts from the premise that, in this post-industrial scenario, the right/left divide that traditionally structured political thought and allegiance to one party rather than the other has become non-existent. Alfred Sant, former Prime Minister of Malta, on his blog in Malta Independent recently stated that Malta’s two main political parties are competing for the political centre, with one leaning to the ‘left’ and the other to the ‘right’.
Because of this convergence towards the center, there seems to be little or no room for questions that radically differentiate one part from the other. Indeed, Sant affirms that “the program promoted by one could have been proposed by the other”.
I would add that this convergence is also visible in the slogans that the two major parties chose for their respective electoral campaigns at the beginning of this year. Labour’s ‘Malta Flimkien’ (Malta Together) evokes the cooperative spirit and the principles that guide our behavior in various aspects of life. On the other hand, the ‘Miegħek. Għal Malta’ (With you. For Malta) appeals to the principles of solidarity that bind members of society.
This convergence implies that political ideology, which has been the engine of social and political behavior, has lost its charm. Simply put, the great humanist ideologies have lost their relevance because they are no longer used as a means of motivating people and mobilizing them to action.
Given this absence of radical differentiation between the beliefs conveyed by the political parties, one can wonder on what basis the elections are won or lost. The analogy about choosing between Pepsi Cola and Coca-Cola may be relevant to answering this question. The preference for choosing one drink over another may be based on flavor and which of the two is milder. In the same way, an election could be won by the party that succeeds in making its flavor more savory by giving itself a progressive image and by adopting an avant-garde posture in the policies it proposes and the options it presents. .
Political ideology, which has driven social and political behavior, has lost its charm– Savior Rizzo
Avant-garde involves a critical stance towards conventionalism by showing a passion for the new and a disdain for old traditional practices that can impede progress and stifle personal development and initiative.
This saying fits very well with the notion of the “third way” as proclaimed by the British sociologist Anthony Giddens, who asserts that the appointments of policies by political parties must be implemented in the context of the demands and the continuous changes that are taking place. produce in this position. -industrial and digital economy.
The political process of this new economic reality demands that our anxieties be addressed or rather assuaged by people who have the vision to adjust their beliefs and actions to the imperatives or demands of a postmodern society. In other words, citizens need to be reassured that their political leaders are able to deal with the vicissitudes of political and economic life and that they are alert to changing circumstances, especially those that are unwelcome and unpleasant.
As Giddens argues, the digital revolution has broadened people’s horizons and spawned a new kind of political consciousness that induces a higher level of consciousness. Indeed, modernism has produced a more responsive and reflective citizen. It is the new political consciousness that makes the political center mobile rather than fixed or static.
Of course, this centrist ideology has its detractors who mainly come from extreme right or radical left movements on the political spectrum. In a society dominated by consumerist values, the parties of the radical left can hardly aspire to obtain an absolute majority of the votes at the ballot box. If or when they manage to gain substantial support from the electorate, they must still share power with other parties of different color and political persuasion.
On the other hand, rightists tend to morph into extreme conservative movements that may espouse the political beliefs that prevailed in Germany and Italy during the pre-World War II period. In some countries like Hungary, a political movement embracing these far-right beliefs has succeeded in taking power with the support of an absolute majority.
The strong polarization that exists between the mindsets of supporters and loyalists who back and support Malta’s two main political parties that have dominated the political scenario for the past 70 years has resulted in an entrenched politics that makes constitutional change difficult to implement. .
This polarization, by design or by default, has tacitly created a kind of political mindset that has acted as a natural barrier to the growth and sustenance of political movements that tend to militate on the far left or right of the political spectrum and, therefore, cannot be an integral part of the center stage.
For better or for worse, the similar choice between Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola is very likely to prevail in the Maltese political scenario for many years to come.
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