The Malta Independent 15 December 2017, Friday

New PN leader should be a woman

Stephen Calleja Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 09:30 Last update: about 6 months ago

The new Nationalist Party leader should be a woman.

The Labour Party has historically always been ahead of the PN in this regard.

It was under a Labour government that women were granted the right to vote, soon after the end of the Second World War.

It was Labour that elected the first woman in Parliament, and then appointed her as the first woman minister, and later as the first woman President of the Republic.

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Labour appointed three Presidents since Malta became a Republic, and two of them were women. The PN appointed five Presidents, and all of them were men.

Labour also had the first woman contesting for the post of party leader, although Marie Louise Coleiro Preca did not make it. Coleiro Preca had also been the first woman to serve as a secretary general to a political party, and it was for Labour.

Labour can now break new ground by electing a woman as a party deputy leader, with Helena Dalli contesting for the post in next week’s election with Edward Scicluna and Chris Fearne.

If Helena Dalli makes it, there will be only one way for the PN to surpass this achievement – and this will be the election of a woman as party leader.

With Miriam Dalli in line as one of the favourites to replace Joseph Muscat when he leaves Maltese politics some time during this legislature – if he keeps his promise to resign before the next election – then the PN must elect its first woman leader now.

My suggestion, of course, is not only based on this historical background and near future possibilities.

It is built on the premise that the PN needs a drastic change after two successive electoral defeats, and the election of a woman at the top will be one giant step in this direction. The PN needs a complete overhaul in the way it thinks, acts and plans, and only a woman can bring about this revolution.

It is also built on the fact that the contenders for the post – at least the two who have gone public so far – are not convincing.

It would be too much of a risk for the party to appoint Adrian Delia, who has very little experience in politics. By jumping into the fray out of nowhere I get the impression that he is contesting more for personal ambition rather than to be of service to the party, and the country. Politics is a different ball-game than football, and Delia will be swallowed by the political sharks on the other side.

On the other hand, Chris Said formed part of the PN government which was heavily defeated in 2013, and was an integral part of the PN which lost by the same 35,000 margin last month. He spent the first two years of the past legislature as secretary general and was later sent to Gozo to serve as the PN’s shadow minister for the island. His appointment was specifically aimed for him to “focus on Gozo”, but under his watch, the PN lost the majority on the island for the first time in decades. He is an integral part of recent history the party would do well to forget. Saying that he will welcome back those people who hurt the party is also not very comforting to the grassroots.

My suggestion to have a woman as a leader is also based on the argument that there are women in the PN who are capable of taking over the running of the party, but have as yet taken a cautious approach in the current vacuum the PN found itself in with Simon Busuttil’s announced resignation.

The impression being given is that the PN is an exclusive club for men when it comes to leadership, and this adds to the PN’s current woes.

It is time for the PN to move into a new era.

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