Marriages of convenience are, to say the least, strange beasts. But if we introduce divorce in Malta they could always be dissolved by a Maltese court. And hurrah to that I say, to the echoing agreement of Maltese liberals and other assorted folk.
So what am I on about?
Jeffrey Orlando Pullicino and Evarist Bartolo recently, figuratively and conveniently, got together to launch the Iva (yes) To Divorce movement. It’s a pity they didn’t name it the Iva For Divorce Organisation as then it could have been shortened to I DO. No harm in the marriage between the two at all. In fact, I hope it will be a start to further cooperation between the two giant parties and their individual components who could find a lot of common ground if only they, and we, their followers, change their, and our, mindset.
Let me immediately state I agree that divorce should be introduced in this fair land of ours. I cannot see how divorce can harm the family as an institution. Hasn’t that institution been harmed enough with broken marriages through separation and marriage breakdowns? Will children born out of a second marriage contracted after divorce be any worse than the ones born to parents still legally married but are in what is now fashionably called a partnership?
Back to marriages of convenience: Mr Bartolo marrying Dr Pullicino Orlando sounds as if it’s made in heaven. It’s like a Hindu in India marrying a Moslem and fostering a Catholic. We should all sing our praise heavenwards and say a few words of thanks to Shiva, Allah and, maybe, put in a few secret words to our own Alla. But, God permitting, I still have a few problems with this marriage regarding the Yes To Divorce movement.
Even their name seemed to be made in hell. The Iva For Europe was a movement that asked for unity not divorce. And much as I like the idea of yet another yes movement, couldn’t these two important and prominent politicians come up with a new name? Maybe they should have found something more in tune with division like Disunity Rules or something even pithier like the Le movement.
I don’t think a movement or a slogan can be patented but I would have expected the Iva For Europe campaigners to stop the usurpation of their movement’s name. At least to give our land a bit of fun and games and the courts some more work to be postponed sine die.
I cannot imagine stranger bedfellows than Dr Pullicino Orlando and Mr Bartolo. They both have a winning smile and are both very media-savvy. But beneath their endearing demeanour lies something worrying. I have nothing but admiration for the two politicians and I know they are both honourable men. However, I am inclined to believe they had more than the nation’s well-being in mind when they agreed to cohabit in their pro-divorce stand. Both have a political life verging on the peripheral. Both need a new impetus to get back on the national radar. Both must have thought some maverick tactics could get them noticed and their pasts, whether murky or contentious, conveniently filed under the carpet. Mr Bartolo fought for some leadership post he didn’t get and he doesn’t seem to be the most beloved of the new Labour leader.
Dr Pullicino Orlando, well, the whole galaxy knows about this man. Before the last election, he was the galaxy’s champion for anything environmental. All the while he was being touted as Malta’s green messiah, he was somehow, directly or indirectly, involved in some grand design to turn, or have his land turned, into some flashing disco. So from messiah to pariah in two easy steps was the name of the game for him. He now plays around with his vote in Parliament and so the Prime Minister has his hands tightly tied to keeping said Dr Pullicino Orlando quiet and good. As all legislatures come to an end after five years even without a maverick MP voting the government out of office, Dr Pullicino Orlando needed to find another cause célèbre to make him an electable politico. So it was decreed, by the heavens above, that he and Mr Bartolo espouse divorce.
As I said, I am all for unity between diverse factions and I also am all for divorce. I do object strongly when these movements/organisations/think tanks, which always claim to be liberal, start acting in illiberal ways themselves. If the Church says anything about divorce the intelligentsia accuses it and its spokesmen of blasphemy against democracy or of corrupt practices even before the election or the referendum are announced. And if Eddie Fenech Adami talks about marriage and divorce the Iva movement comes out against him and drags his children’s marital situation into the public domain. Isn’t that the most illiberal and despicable of actions?
The strange name of Iva to divorce and division should get another of our stalwarts into sloganeering mode. Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici who is, strangely enough, still screaming and ranting, should launch another of his crusades and movements and give birth to another Iva organisation: the Iva to Divorce from Europe Movement (yes idem: and more of the same).
Marriages, the gurus tell us, fail if they are not based on love. Clerics add that failure is assured if the marriage partners do not pray together. I hope and pray the marriage between Dr Pullicino Orlando and Mr Bartolo is not just for their selfish ends and they will prove me wrong in my analysis of the situation and remain happily united forever and ever.
This article first appeared in The Times January 8 2011