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In a recent leader artcile by Malta Today ‘Malta’s ‘amoral familism’ starts as follows:
“Much has been said of Malta’s problem of ‘amoral familism’: a term coined by Edward Banfield in his book on the Italian south, ‘The Moral Basis of a Backward Society’, and applied to Malta by the late anthropologist Jeremy Boissevain.
It describes the typical, self-interested, family-centric society where the State – or even the community’s better interest – is sacrificed on the altar of one’s own personal benefit. It is the gateway for nepotism; and in a liberal democracy commandeered by two parties, patronage is what feeds Malta’s dependence on the political class.”
And here is where the late Jeremy Bossevain’s application to the Maltese situation is flawed. Banfield’s book was published in 1958, so its application over 30 years later to the Maltese situation was grossly outdated. Moreover, at the time that Boissevain applied this theory to Malta, Italy had a multi-party system, and for years on end its divisive politics resulted in hung parliaments.
In fact, in direct contrast to Bossevain’s theory, Italian analyst and Senior correspondent at Thomson Reuters Silvia Aloisi had suggested back in 2008 that Italy may be moving closer to a two-party arrangement because this reduces proportional representation, and therefore prevents excessive government interference with the country’s economic policy. (Election pushes Italy towards two-party system).
It should be added that under normal situations, where unlike the current PN opposition, most parties act in a civil way and in accordance to their constitutional obligations, a two-party systems promotes centrism and encourages political parties to find common positions which appeal to most of the electorate and this can lead to political stability, which in turn encourages economic growth.
In fact, historian Patrick Allitt of the Teaching Company suggested that it is difficult to overestimate the long term economic benefits of political stability. Sometimes two-party systems have been seen as preferable to multi-party systems because they are simpler to govern, with less fractiousness and greater harmony, since it discourages radical minor parties, while multi-party systems can sometimes lead to hung parliaments.
The current PN/PN situation of a ‘Coalition of Confusion’ is tangible proof that minority parties driven by self interest of individuals can create a situation of uncertainty that has since its inception by Marlene Farragia and Simon Busuttil weakened the PN’s foundation to quasi-irrelevance.