I’m back with a new post! I hope you’re all doing well I know that this is very off-brand for this website (which will be going through its own changes soon), but I wanted to publish my feelings about being a political candidate for one of Malta’s political parties – Volt Malta.
Malta’s General Election is over, and like many, I was left exhausted and partly disillusioned by the whole experience and the local electoral process. Everyone has been anticipating this election since October of last year – so it was only a matter of time.
The opportunity to be a political candidate has been a great honour, and I believe that reflecting on experiences will help others understand and empathize on the effects of politics in our society, and how we can all make a change.
So, let’s begin!
What led me to become a candidate?
I know that my candidacy was surprising to many – and if you told me this time a year ago that I’d be a candidate for Volt Malta in the General Election, I most likely would not have believed you!
However, a lot has changed since Volt Malta was in the midst of being registered (our anniversary is April 30th) – my idea of what it meant to be politically involved has also changed. I had just started a new job, and was generally still trying to find my footing as a young adult out of university and experiencing life as a working writer. I felt untethered to the roles I had to juggle, as well as unsteady in my capabilities to juggle them well.
But something changed in October 2021. The annual Volt Europa General Assembly was in Lisbon, and my partner/fellow Co-President and I went there together. I met many of the other executive Volters from the different chapters around Europe in person for the first time, and it was like a weight was lifted from my chest. I wasn’t the only one in this position and experiencing roadblocks and challenges – we were all volunteers who wanted to take part in creating a better future and doing politics differently.
And whilst imposter syndrome still managed to creep up on me from time to time, I left Lisbon feeling a lot more grounded and sure of myself and my future in politics – I managed to reconnect with my WHYs. Why I joined, why I helped build Volt Malta and why I wanted to get more involved in politics.
A few months later, I began to wonder – what if I put myself out there as a candidate? Would I have the backing? Would I be able to juggle everything with work? Am I ready for this kind of spotlight on me?
Unfortunately, I had to sit on this as other commitments got in the way – but as these things go, one by one, everything that “stopped” me seemed to slip away. By the time I was ready, the election had been called. This sprung me into action, and I knew then that I was ready, come what may. Fast-forward a few days later and getting the members’ go-ahead – and then it was announced to the press!
The campaign – highs, lows, etc.
The whole election – mine and Kass’ campaigns, Volt Malta’s campaign – was a very enjoyable experience, in spite of all the stress and anxiety that came with it. It was a month of sleeping past midnight, ordering in a lot of food, and consistently pushing myself outside of comfort zone with new feelings and experiences.
I had to learn how to put myself out there more, the importance of self-presentation, and being more available to new opportunities. I debated other people for the first time, had a really fun IG Live interview, and learnt a lot more about the local political scene in general. Experiencing it from the outside vs from the inside are two very different things – they’re both intense, but different kinds of intense. Especially from being a general newcomer and a newcomer party, it was a very eye-opening experience.
The idea of being in the spotlight was something that I had to get used to, but this actually was not as bad as I thought it would be. There were some nasty comments and naysayers, of course, but I was expecting worse. People were overall very supportive, and knowing that this opportunity to represent something new and radical was welcomed this way was simultaneously empowering, heart-warming, and humbling.
Being able to be present something new and radical, however, was the best part of the whole campaign. Both Kass and I wanted to show that politics belongs to everyone, and that the voices of young and underrepresented people cannot be ignored. Politics is a serious field, and should be treated like one, but it should also be something that anyone can get into (or at least more involved in) because it does affect every person living in and from Malta. Politics touches everyone, and this should be reflected more in our political structures moving forward.
I underestimated myself greatly, but I am glad that I was mistaken. I had to face a lot of old insecurities and outdated ideas about my own capabilities/interests, as well as reflect on how I can contribute to the community in a new way whilst respecting my individuality.
It should be noted, however, that the competitive feeling can get toxic quickly; but I would boil this down to the way the two main parties tend to run their campaigns and the intensity of animosity between PN and PL supporters. It’s easy to get lost in it sometimes.
The reactions from other parties about Volt and my candidacy were also quite interesting – but it was nice to know that there is still some sort of camaraderie left, especially across parties.
Reflections & Next Steps
This experience as a candidate for a progressive third party is one that I will not forget, and always cherish. I learnt so much about myself and have no regrets putting my name on the ballot sheet.
Knowing how much it helped Volt Malta made the experience even better; I have no doubt that this is only the first step in the party’s bright and prosperous future.
I can honestly say that I am both sad and relieved that this experience is over. I miss feeling the exhilaration and adrenaline that came with the build-up towards voting day – the late nights scouring through social media and keeping up to date on all the happenings, and getting to talk about Volt’s vision for Malta – but I am also excited to start this new chapter, in both Volt Malta and my personal life.
I hope that I can build on this experience and help more people see that Maltese politics can be better – in terms of representation, culture, and capabilities. Nothing is as clear-cut as we expect it to be, and we need to find a way to live within these grey spaces in a healthy and constructive manner. Electoral reform is the next step to achieving that. The political duopoly is getter weaker – and with the numbers of this last election, these reforms are no longer a matter of “if” they will happen, but “when” they will happen.
If there is one thing that I want you, the reader, to take away from this is that you should never underestimate yourself, especially if you are doing something differently. There are others out there that will not only see you, but support your ideas and goals. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it!
Also, this is only the beginning for me and Volt Malta. We are going to continue being the lovable misfits you know us to be, so don’t count us out anytime soon.
Written by: Alexia DeBono
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