In the modern governance of parliamentary democracies, regulatory agencies have been given a prominent role. Once the idea that economic affairs should be managed according to the principles of free trade became the prevailing opinion, there was also a growing recognition that there was a need to introduce mechanisms to ensure that these principles were correctly applied and not abused.
Politicians could hardly be responsible for safeguarding this process because their intervention would amount to a contradiction in terms, since the State would end up getting involved in the management of economic activity. Nor could the private sector take over since sooner or later the abuses would end up multiplying. Nor can the whole matter be left in the hands of the judiciary since the latter has no executive powers; neither should he. Thus, at these three levels of the scale of governance, a fourth has emerged, that of independent agencies responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of the economic apparatus as defined according to the “laws” of the free market.
For a small economy like that of Malta, it seems extremely difficult to find people of integrity, independence, competence and talent to manage the regulatory function consistently and correctly. But also to be clear, some argue that the real problem here is that the political and business establishment does not want and will not allow this function to be exercised as it should.
RULE OF LAW
Among European critics of Malta’s record of upholding the rule of law, some say abuse charges against high-profile politicians are taking too long to reach the courts for them to then be thrown out .
These reviews surprise me a bit because meanwhile they seem to ignore completely known cases in the biggest EU countries that they should be well aware of.
As for example, the case of the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy who during the 2007 presidential campaign had received millions of euros from Gaddafi’s Libya, which constitutes a criminal act according to French law. His case is still ongoing.
Or the case of the former Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who, when he was in government and before that, presided over a system by which, in his political party, hidden funds were poured in and distributed to his comrades as well as to him -same. Nothing was done about him.
HOW TO ABSTAIN AND FOR WHOM
Like others, I followed the case of the magistrate who did not abstain in a case before her. A Constitutional Court judge ruled she should have and removed her from the case, as her stepfather happens to be the lawyer for former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. If she had abstained, the judge said, it would have seemed that justice would also be served.
Now, I’m not well versed in legal concessions, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has made the following observation: by the same criterion set for this magistrate to abstain and by which she was removed from the case, shouldn’t the judge who rendered the decision also abstain from ruling on his situation? I remember him (and others no doubt) as an active militant and even a candidate for the Nationalist Party elections.