Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Times: Don't take Alternattiva for granted - new party chief

Sunday, 1st November 2009 by Cynthia Busuttil

Michael Briguglio. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

The new head of Alternattiva Demokratika, Michael Briguglio, has warned against taking his party for granted.

"Our vote is small but it is very important," he said, soon after he was confirmed as AD's new chairman in an uncontested election.

The 34-year-old sociologist - who is the youngest leader of a local political party - said AD still had a number of supporters who could determine the outcome of a general election.
He said AD's 4,000 votes in last year's general election was more than double the difference between both parties.

Mr Briguglio said the party had four priorities - social and ecological justice, civil rights and the economy.

"We believe in sustainable development which balances all these. We believe that to have economic progress you must have social progress. It does not make sense to have a strong economy and poor people, or pollution everywhere," he said.

He explained that AD should work in favour of strengthening the welfare state and a social Europe.

"We believe in decent and accessible public services, inclusive education and healthcare. These need strong financing and therefore, unlike other opportunists, we cannot be in favour of politics which remove progressive taxes," he said.

Speaking to a roomful of people at Juliani Hotel in St Julian's, Mr Briguglio said the party should open up to more people. "We need to have horizontal structures so that all those who want to work within the party will find a place," he said.

Moreover, the party needed to be better organised. "We have to be present in people's everyday lives and continuously network. In that way we can build relationships of trust with more people," he said.

Mr Briguglio said the party should create alliances with organisations and individuals who were prepared to work with AD despite not being its members.

However, he emphasised that AD was "an independent and autonomous party". He said unlike other parties which just paid lip service to divorce and the rights of homosexuals, without inserting them in their political manifestos, for AD these would be key issues.

Mr Briguglio is not the first politician in his family - his father, economist Lino Briguglio, had set up the Democratic Party in the 1980s, which many considered as a precursor of AD, while his mother was one of Malta's first feminists.

"My father never tried to influence me with any ideas whatsoever, but ironically he was the biggest influence because I grew up with an open mind and was never afraid to read various books and network with different people," he said.

The other members of the new AD council are Stephen Cachia as deputy chairman, general secretary Ralph Cassar, deputy general secretary Henrik Piski, treasurer Simon Galea and international secretary Arnold Cassola.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

[See video interview and more comments here.]

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