I am often asked what it is like to be a new candidate for the next general election. The truth is that there is no guidebook or manual that tells you what to expect and what it really is like to contest.
It has now been two years since my candidacy was announced and I still remember thinking whether I should actually accept and contest, or just let it go. Deep down I knew that to accept was the right thing to do; to an extent it was something that had been coming for quite a while.
My life path was such that getting into politics was in fact no big surprise for my family and close friends.
So what is it like?
In the early days I remember being rather passive and took my time to get my bearings. It was all new to me – I came from the ‘outside’ and was never in the inner circles of the Nationalist Party. Then I remember feeling overwhelmed and constantly asking myself ‘where to start from?’
The first and rather challenging issue was that of having to constantly explain, or even justify, my decision.
A few people tried to dissuade me; they asked what on earth had possessed me. This only made me more determined and confident in my decision.
Eventually I got more involved in the party and this helped me build my confidence. I know who to turn to when I need assistance or guidance.
I strongly believe that politicians should go beyond working for their party, their district and their campaign. In fact, I consider my biggest and most important role to be working for the people – rolling up my sleeves and doing what needs to be done when needed.
I started getting really involved and in touch when I created my blog and started to make better use of social media. I always knew how effective this medium could be, but I was still surprised to find out just how effective it actually is.
It has really helped me to engage with a lot of people and, though sometimes there’s a negative feedback, on the whole, it has helped me raise my profile and put my thoughts and my views in black on white. What has also been important is the engagement with people and listening to what they have to say or what they think about certain issues.
As a candidate, it is important that people know who I am and what I stand for. For example, I have made it clear that I am against hunting and all for animal welfare, that I am against the development in Wied Għomor and that I have serious concerns on various legal issues – namely the breach of our Constitution by this government to appoint its chosen people as magistrates.
Another issue that I find hard to forget and one which is close to my heart is that work in the Industrial Tribunal has been paralysed and, until today, in my view, the necessary amendments to make it work as it should, are still not in place.
Being a candidate comes with a lot of sacrifices and time away from the family and friends is probably the hardest.
There is always an activity to attend to, house visits that need to be made, articles to write, media invites to honour, people to meet, talks to give and, very importantly ensuring that I am constantly updated with what is going on.
It is a lot of work – a lot of hard work. By way of example, it has been a great opportunity for me to participate in one of the conferences organised by Solidarjetà Ħaddiema Partit Nazzjonalista regarding precarious work and the need to eliminate it once and for all.
I also participated in the workshops (known as Btalks). These are organised by the PN forum representing small- to medium-sized companies, and it is where I shared knowledge on employment law.
I have to say that the one speech I’m sure I’ll always look back on is the first time I addressed the general council of the party. I had spoken about the importance of healthy industrial relations and the rights and obligations of both workers and employers. I openly admitted that I was feeling rather excited about giving my first speech at such an event.
Admittedly, I am loving this ride. It’s proving to me that hard work truly does pay off. I have been blessed to meet with a lot of people who are often a big wake-up call to the realities that we live in. They make me feel fortunate, that in my little ways, I am contributing.
An event that has stays with me to this day is when I had a meeting with a person with disability. Finding a coffee shop which was accessible for us to sit and talk turned out to be a complete nightmare – this is a reality many live with every single day.
I have also met numerous people who are looking for work or who have been discriminated against because of the political views they embrace.
But while I’ve met some great people along the way, sometimes it gets lonely (yes, being in politics can get pretty lonely) or really tough, however, at times like these I know that I can call another candidate to discuss things, or just to vent.
I am not in a position to say what it takes to get elected, as I have not gotten that far yet. All I can say at this point is that being a candidate is the right path for me. I like being there for people, to make a difference and, to make myself available for everyone, no matter what party they support.
Yes, I am a candidate running on the PN ticket but,as an individual, I can assure you that I am working to get elected to represent the people, irrespective of the party they support.
This may sound like lip service, but it is truly the way I feel. If they make sense to me, I have no qualms about supporting ideas coming from either side, and I have no issue with questioning ideas coming from my own party, if I have concerns.
That’s how I’ve always lived my life. It’s practically who I am at the core and, luckily, changing that is not possible, not even if I were to try.
Roselyn Borg is a Nationalist Party general election candidate.