The death of a journalist


A forensics expert walks in a field after a powerful bomb blew up a car (Rear) killing investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Bidnija, Malta, October 16, 2017. PHOTO/Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Assassinated writer Daphne Caruana Galizia was a victim of the offshore economy she defended in life.

The assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia drew the attention of both the local and international media.

Most reporters connected the murder to her work, though they highlighted different aspects of it. The BBC, Economist, Guardian, and Washington Post recognized the global significance of her reporting, agreeing with Politico‘s description of the journalist as “a one-woman WikiLeaks, crusading against untransparency, and corruption.”

La Repubblica and Zeit Online echoed this line, pointing out that the murder could have been orchestrated by organized crime, which has established links in Malta. Local newspapers described the assassination as “an attack on freedom of expression” and implied that Malta’s political class had a direct interest in silencing the journalist.

Both major political parties in Malta have exploited her death to reinforce their perpetual rivalry. The opposition Nationalist Party (PN) blamed the Labour Party (PL) administration for the “collapse of the rule of law” and called on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to resign. In response, Muscat hinted at the opposition’s interests in silencing Caruana Galizia and called for “national unity.” Local business representatives expressed their concern that the assassination would negatively effect the economy.

The Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament also suggested that Muscat step down because “such incidents bring to mind Putin’s Russia, not the European Union.” A representative of the Socialists & Democrats asked Europol to investigate the murder, claiming that Maltese authorities cannot be trusted. She further criticized the country for facilitating money laundering and tax evasion, which attract organized crime.

Though we still do not know who was behind the murder, we can assess Caruana Galizia’s legacy and analyze whose interests the assassination served. Her beliefs, influence on Malta’s politics, and her country’s role in the global economy all complicate the story of a crusading journalist cut down by political opponents.

Between Two Parties

Ever since its 1964 independence from Britain, Malta has been held hostage by just two parties: the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party. Observers usually characterize the PL as social-democratic and the PN as conservative, but these labels do not reflect the parties’ true political coordinates.

In the 1960s and the 1970s, the rivalry between the two groups was rooted in politics: the PL had connections to Third World independence and socialist movements and was committed to maintaining the welfare state. These policies set it on a collision course with the PN and the Maltese Catholic Church, the conservative party’s close ally.

The PN’s rejection of Labour’s economic policies and the results of the 1981 general elections sparked a political crisis, followed by violent clashes between the parties’ supporters.

But, as in other countries, the parties have since met in the neoliberal middle. Today, so-called social issues — like divorce, LGBT rights, and IVF — are all that separate them.

Indeed, since returning to power in 2013, the PL has pursued a Third Way economic policy, privatizing public assets and attracting global capital. That is, it has largely followed the course set by its predecessor, the PN.

However, this lack of political differences has not ended the rivalry.

Jacobin for more

Comments are closed.