The person behind the name - Clayton Bartolo (PL)
As Election Day looms closer we’ll bring you short interviews with those at the centre of the ballots – the candidates themselves.
The three political parties were sent the same questions to pass on to their respective candidates. To date the Nationalist party has sent no replies.
25 years old Accountant, Clayton Bartolo, from Mellieħa and is currently working towards obtaining the CPA warrant. Last March he got married to Jessica and has been involved in politics since the age of 15 years. At 20 he was elected as the youngest councillor to ever serve in the Mellieħa Local Council. He is contesting the general elections on District 12 (Mellieħa, Naxxar, Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, San Pawl il-Baħar, Burmarrad)
What attracted you to choose a political career?
I felt that a political career was the next natural step after having served for the past five years in the Mellieħa Local Council. The fact that you can be of service to the people is something which has always attracted me, and as such I took this opportunity to contest this general election. Also, I believe that I have a lot to offer to the country. Given my background in accounts and auditing vis-à-vis the financial situation and the issues highlighted by the NAO’s report in various sectors I think that we need more people of this profession in politics to increase accountability and the checks and balances which can increase transparency.
What makes you believe in your party?
The Labour Party is on the side of the people and the Maltese families. This is the first thing which makes me believe in the party. Being on the side of the people does not come easily to a number of politicians and this will be a building block towards building more bridges between the people and the politicians.
I also believe in my party due to the serious and honest governance which is being promoted as the right way to govern the country. There is also the issue of open governance which will bring the people to the forefront of decision-making. These issues should be the top-most priority for any party which aspires to govern a country.
Which party values and policies do you cherish most?
The Labour Party is not looking to plan its policies for five years only, but it is also planning for a number of years. This is serious politics and this is the new way that politics should be done. Governments should start planning for a number of years because the country does not live for five years and then start a new period. Political accountability and planning needs to be on a longer period, because in order for the country to move forward we need planning on a longer term basis to give more stability to local economy and also to improve Malta’s image on the international scale. The Labour Party holds these values high and thus continue to increase my beliefs in this party.
What can you offer to the electorate and if elected, are there any particular issues you will campaign for?
Having served in the Mellieħa Local Council for the past five years I have met and discussed a number of issues within the locality. This has given me a sound foundation in local politics and therefore I can serve the people from a closer perspective and understanding.
There are a number of issues which need serious consideration such as the maintenance of touristic areas, more incentives for SME’s and also more incentives for people to work. There also needs to be a serious drive on more civil rights, including those rights which are missing for minorities.
PL is breaking away from its traditional image, while PN is slowly moving towards a more inclusive attitude. What are your views on both?
It’s true that the PL is breaking away from its traditional image; however, it has retained its core values which were always the foundation of the social democrat beliefs which the PL promoted over the years. The PL nowadays forms the basis for the movement of progressives and moderates whereby it is opening its doors to everyone and not just Labourites, and is not just the traditional party as people have known it to be. It doesn’t matter what the persons’ political beliefs were in the past, the door is open to everyone. Even if a person does not agree with the Labour Party, space will be provided for everyone to work and move forward in life.
On the other hand, I beg to differ about the PN’s attitude. The PN has actually become a clique of people and is not recognisable any more. I also do not agree that the PN is moving towards a more inclusive attitude. With its mud-slinging campaign, it has managed to degenerate this campaign in a negative one, and so it is up to the PL to continue being positive in these last few days of this longest electoral campaign in these last 25 years.
Given your background (career) what policies and bill/s will you lobby for?
The first thing that a new government needs to implement is the party financing bill. The political parties are the largest unregulated sector, and as such regulation needs to be implemented as soon as possible. This will increase transparency.
I will also lobby to increase the benefits for SME’s, and not just for start-ups. Although we hear a lot about the things which are done to help SME’s, this is not the case as very few actually see the benefit of these incentives. SME’s form the backbone of the Maltese economy, and have proved crucial during the financial crisis which the country has experienced. These SME’s should be helped more to continue increase their employment capacity through various schemes and also to increase their profitability which will lead to an increase in investment in their own business ventures.
What should the public expect from a new government?
The first thing that the public should expect is a change in the direction that the present government has embarked on. A new government needs to side with the people and the businesses and not be on the side of bureaucracy and cliques which unfortunately have taken over our country.
Also, a new government needs to address a number of serious issues such as the energy sector which was neglected over the past years to go for cleaner energy systems at cheaper prices. Also, we need to increase the female participation in the labour market, which unfortunately is in the lower bracket within the EU. A new government needs to hit the ground running and start working for the benefit of all the families and businesses from day one and not just during the last few months before a general election is held.
How do you rate the current electoral campaign and the proposals launched so far?
The electoral campaign has been a very active one. Both on the ground and also in the online fora, with the social media networks being heavily used by candidates and supporters alike to get their message across. There are also a number of blogs which have sprung up and also give their opinion. Unfortunately, there are those who use these blogs for no good reason except to attack people on a personal basis. Although I believe in freedom of speech, I do not agree that politics should be used as an excuse to attack people on a personal basis. We have also seen a billboard battle take place, which has been going on for a number of months now, an my opinion is that these have played a major role during this campaign.
Regarding the proposals, I am sorry to say that the PN is going for auction politics. This is definitely not the way to go. It’s not about the amount you spend but how you spend it. A new government needs to get the real value for money spent as otherwise it will continue putting the country’s finances in jeopardy. The PL’s proposals are forward looking and positive, which will bring about a real change in people’s lives. The best certificate that any government can have is that given by its people when talking about how their lives have improved, something which unfortunately is not on the PN’s agenda.
‘Fil-Parlament ma jikbrux fjuri’ – How do you plan to be effective in Parliament?
I plan to be the people’s voice in Parliament. This is what representation means. The politicians are elected by the people and for the people, and so they need to enact what is right for the country and not what is right for the small clique of people who are running the party. As I have done in the past five years on a local council level, I will keep the best interests of the people in mind when looking to take a decision which will undoubtedly affect the Maltese and Gozitans.
There must also be a clear definition between the party and the government. They are not one and the same. This means that if elected in Parliament I will work within this new government to ensure transparency, accountability and effectiveness on a governmental level. On a party level, I will continue with the work assigned to me, however, this will be a totally separate issue from the work done in Parliament.
PL has been in the Opposition for years. Is the party ready to govern? Why?
Yes it is ready to govern because it has been in contact with the stakeholders in our society and this is what the road map being presented during this electoral campaign is all about. Also, the PL will be looking to put the country’s finances on a sound footing and address the energy problems which the country is facing.
The most important thing is that the people will be at the centre of all decisions taken, and as such one of the major proposals is that studies will be undertaken to determine the effect of major projects on society in general. This should be the way forward, as a government is elected by the people and for the people.
A new government led by Joseph Muscat will also be an open government, and it will advocate active citizenship. This means that the people will not simply be spectators, but their opinion will be sought in a number of manners including via online media. These changes are needed in today’s society, and a lot of work needs to be done to re-build the trust of the people in the politicians.
Why should people vote in new blood over serving MPs? In a parliamentary structure shrouded in allegations and lack of accountability, why do you want to get involved?
I believe that the country needs a mix of serving and new MPs. This is the way forward whereby the serving MPs will use their experience to offer guidance to energetic new MPs to do the work in Parliament. However, new MPs tend to come up with different solutions than those which would have previously been thought about, and in my opinion Maltese politics need fresh new faces to really and truly give it a breath of fresh air. Also, by voting new MPs in Parliament the people will be creating a new breed of politicians which will pull up its socks and start working from day one to deliver results and not just during the last few months before the general election.
The allegations and lack of accountability should not hinder anyone from running for Parliament. If anything, they spur me on to change things. I know that there is a lot to be done to re-build the bridged between the politicians and the people. And let’s be clear about this, it is not the people’s fault that a lot of them have lost their trust in the political class. The blame lies on those politicians who have lost touch with the people who elected them. A new government led by Joseph Muscat will work to once again enhance this trust in the politicians, and also to clean up politics from these allegations once and for all. I am ready to work in this new government, and the people really and truly deserve such a government. The people deserve a better government than the one that governed Malta in the past 5 years.